How To Mark An Association Milestone Or Special Occasion With The Help Of Social Media

Associations are no strangers to special occasions. They put on big events, celebrate the achievements of members and are often in the thick of things when something big happens in their respective industries.

However, while association’s are great at showcasing the greatness of others, they often lack this same zeal in marking their own milestones. Many associations have a rich history of improving their industry, providing services and helping members excel and celebrating this heritage is important to pursuing future success. This is an example of a huge milestone, but associations don’t need a 25th or 50th anniversary to make a hoopla over themselves, they just need a small victory, or even just a memory of one, to highlight its achievements and its value to its members.

Marking an association milestone is important, but your organization can’t organize a big event or call all its members every time it does something interesting or memorable. That’s why social media platforms are the perfect tools to mark these milestone. Here are a few ways you can celebrate some common association achievements using social media:

A Major Anniversary

Whether your association has been around for 10 years, 50 years or 100 years, an anniversary is a cause to celebrate. It’s an occasion not to only to mark the successes and loyalty of your members, but also the accomplishments and lasting value of the organization itself.

The great thing about an anniversary is that you have a fairly large period of time to work with. You can develop a strategy to roll out over a whole year, which means you can incorporate many different ways to mark this milestone. Creating YouTube videos to mark the history of the association is a great place to start. Make a video that interviews influential members from each decade your association has existed or a series of Heritage-Moment-like videos to showcase the history of your association. Profile key members, such as the founders, award winners and trailblazers, and other important moments in your association’s history through a blog, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. At the end of the year, create an online “Hall of Fame” for your association by taking these profiles, videos and posts and putting them all in one place, such as a dedicated Pinterest board or Facebook photo album.

A Great New Partnership

Partnerships are often a huge deal for associations and mark a turning point in an organization’s quest to provide better service, improve credibility, develop a stronger lobbying influence or attain another advantage. Marking this milestone is an important step in letting members know the association is stronger than ever before and consistently looking for ways to help them excel in their careers and in life.

Social media can help you mark a great new partnership in two main ways; by spreading the word and showcasing the advantage of your association teaming up with one or several other organizations. There are three words to help you spread the word of a new alliance through social media; share, share and share! Tweet about it, post it to Facebook, share through Instagram, write about it on your blog and put it up on LinkedIn. Your members don’t just want to know that the partnership is happening, they want to know how it’ll help them. Create an infographic blog post showing the direct value the partnership will have for members and share it to Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Host a Twitter chat and have representatives from the partnering organizations field questions from members or create a YouTube video where a member interviews these representatives and asks questions about the member value of the alliance.

A Government Relations Victory

Associations can lobby the government for years about one issue, so when the organization scores a victory, you’ll probably want to make the most of it, especially because it usually means big things and big changes to the way members go about their work.

Changes in government policy or legislation because of an organization’s lobbying efforts usually affects an association’s members in a quantifiable way. Use social media to highlight these positive effects and underline the association’s milestone. Use an infographic on your blog or create a video to take the milestone and turn the victory rhetoric your association uses into cold, hard numbers and facts that your members can relate to and use in their jobs. Go a bit further and profile a member, charting the ways in which a government relations victory will help him/her in the present and into the future. Share little, shareable facts, quotes and 140-character stories of the victory through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Lastly, don’t worry if you haven’t won a government relations victory in a while; celebrate the achievements of the past by creating a timeline-type blog post about previous lobbying milestones or mark the occasion by using the popular Throwback Thursday hashtag on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to share the anniversary of a monumental government relations victory.

Four Ways Your Association Can Better Recognize Members Using Social Media

Everyone likes a pat on the pack for a job well done, which is one of the primary reasons associations have been so successful across the decades.

Let us explain; an association’s mission is to help their members excel in their industry and careers. Being recognized by a legitimate, well-known and well-respected organization is one way people can set themselves apart from the pack, which can lead to a job, a promotion, better salary, improved working conditions or any number of different benefits. This is why association services like award programs, professional designations and committees are popular. They give members a chance to be recognized and gain prestige.

So, if recognition is valuable to your members, and thus for your association, incorporating the concept into other areas of your organization can yield some great results. Fortunately, recognizing members on social media is fairly easy to do. Here are some ideas for how your association can shine the spotlight on members through online platforms, from simple to out-of-the-box.

Give Them A Shout Out

Recognizing members on social media can be as simple as mentioning them and their accomplishments on your association’s platforms. Make sure to keep track of the achievements of members, big or small, and highlight them. For example, if a member has cut their carbon footprint, congratulate them and their success with a tweet. If a member published a book or an article in a professional journal or was invited to talk at the local post-secondary school, include this information in a Facebook post.

Singling these members out for the small achievements they earn will not only make them feel appreciated, but will also go a long way to helping them show the world how accomplished they how much dedication they have for their job, which helps them in their careers. Giving your members a quick shout out on social media allows your association to give them this valuable exposure while saving resources to highlight the major accomplishments members attain.

Publish An Interview With Them

Conducting an in-depth interview with a member and incorporating it into your association’s social media is a great way to draw attention to your organization’s brand ambassador’s and their achievements. Their will always be special members, those ones who have been loyal to the association and have made a name for themselves in the industry. These are the members who win awards or get other major accolades. Recognize them by filming an interview and posting it to your YouTube channel or create a blog post featuring your discussion with this member.

The members who you are likely to focus on with this strategy are those who are either very experienced, are trailblazers or obviously stand out from their peers. Regardless of the reason for their success, they are role models for the rest in the industry. This is why profiling them in such a prominent way will not only make it obvious that your association appreciates them, but will let others in the industry know that part of being successful is being an active member of the association.

Create An Online Hall Of Fame

One of the highest honour athletes can receive is to be inducted into their sport’s hall of fame. Incorporating this concept into your association’s social media strategy can have the same effect on members. Create a “Hall of Fame” board on your association’s Pinterest account and profile a different member weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. Use Instagram to accomplish the same thing, profiling a new member every so often and including a photo and description of their accomplishment, such as being one of the organization’s longest-serving members.

Other than having the moniker “Hall of Fame” next to their name, members will appreciate the relative permanence of this strategy. They are in elite company and will be able to enjoy that exclusivity for a while. This is particularly relevant on Pinterest where boards are featured prominently at all times, whereas tweets drift out of the public eye as time goes on.

Let Them Be Social Media Moderator For A Day

With great accomplishments come great power. This is what you’re saying to members who have achieved something great when you make them a social media moderator for a day. They can give their own insights, expertise and perspective when in charge of social media accounts, which boosts awareness of their own personal brand among those in the industry. For example, recruit your major award winner to lead a Twitter chat from your association’s account or take over your association’s Instagram account for the day to document a ‘day in the life’ of an award winner.

Not only does this strategy encourage engagement between members and one of their high-profile colleagues, but it also rewards a member who has done something extraordinary with the power to highlight the things that make them exceptional. In the era of increased personalization, this is a unique way to give members a chance to recognize themselves in their own way. This is truly something they can point to as not only an exciting experience, but one that raised their stock in the eyes of others.

What The 2015 Pan Am Games Can Teach Us About Social Media

The 2015 Pan Am Games officially closed last Sunday in Toronto and although the city still has the Para Pan Am Games to look forward to, this occasion gave the city and the entire country a chance to reflect on the achievement of its athletes and the process of hosting a major multi-sport event.

The lessons were plentiful and the opinions of experts and the general public alike shifted slowly from the opening ceremonies to the closing ceremonies. At the end of the day, the event was deemed a success by a vast majority of the commentators. Here at Incline Marketing, we always like to learn from successful organizations and events, so after examining what the Pan Am Games did right, we came up with four lessons from the event that can be applied to building a successful social media strategy. Here they are:

Plan For The Worst And You’ll Get The Best

Negativity reigned supreme among a majority of the local media and among the public before the Games started. The traffic was going to be absolutely, insanely horrible, no one was going to show up to the events and the newly built venues would be white elephants for decades to come. The Pan Am organizers heard these dire prophecies and worked hard at creating strategies to combat them. In the end, everything worked out as close to perfect as they could have, thanks in large part to the preparation of the organizers and volunteers.

A lot of people like to spout worst-case scenarios about social media too. For example, people fear that it opens them up to too much criticism or that the money/time spent on social media efforts is a giant waste. However, if you can plan effectively, you can take much of the sting out of these nay-sayers. Draw up a plan to deal with negative comments or sudden crisis on your social media platforms. Have guidelines that you and other staff should follow when posting to the organization’s Twitter account, Facebook page, etc. Develop strategies to measure your return on investment and achieve your goals. Having these plans in place will ensure that you’re prepared for the worst, but will most likely achieve the best.

Exclusivity Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

Part of the success of the 2015 Pan Am Games was its high level of accessibility. Tickets were relatively cheap and plentiful. Events were spread out across southern Ontario so people from different regions could take part. Open events, such as concerts, were held almost every day of the Games in popular spots. These are just some examples of how the organizers made the event inclusive and drew the attention of thousands of people that critics said would remain apathetic and disengaged.

There are many organizations that tout exclusivity as the ultimate reason for not only their success, but their very existence. In rare circumstances this may be true, but using wide-reaching exclusivity to draw an increased customer/membership base is generally an out-dated concept. When your organization makes content easily accessible through its social media channels, it is being inclusive. This inclusiveness gives people a sense of belonging, increases engagement and builds a community that people want to be part of. This is nothing but a win-win for your organization and its target audience.

Pride Is Powerful

Every single day throughout the course of the 2015 Games, Canadian athletes would say they performed at their very best because of the home crowd. When thousands of people are cheering you one and celebrating your every victory, no matter how big or small, it’s natural to want to work as hard as you can and give back to your supporters. The athletes were greeted by a wave of national pride and they rewarded Canadians with a record number of Pan Am medals.

Shining the spotlight on people’s accomplishments has a hugely positive effect on them outside of athletics too. Social media is a great vehicle for recognizing people in your community or a member/customer who has done something special. Highlighting their achievement in such a public way is an opportunity to show appreciation for the people who help make your organization a possibility. Just like support from fans, recognition in other industries is a two-way street. If your organization recognizes how hard you’ve worked to accomplishment something, you’re going to be more likely to renew membership, volunteer on a committee, subscribe to a newsletter or attend their next event.

Engagement Begets Engagement

By the time of 2015 Pan Am Games were winding down last week, the conversation was not about if the event was a success (there was no doubt it was), but if Toronto should host more international sporting competitions. People wrote about bringing the Track and Field World Championship or the FIBA World Championships to the city. And of course, the biggest clamour was for another bid on the Summer Olympics. This signalled a huge shift from the prevailing notion at the start of Games that Toronto was just too darn apathetic for a major multi-sport event to take off. But because the Pan Am organizers did such a good job at engaging the citizens of the city, Torontonians are wondering where they can get more.

Social media has these same addictive characteristics. The name of the game for a multi-platform strategy is engagement. The purpose of Twitter or Facebook or Instagram is to connect with your organization’s target audience and get them engaged and invested in the organization’s efforts, both online and offline. When engagement is fostered through social media, it becomes easier for your audience to see opportunities to get involved in other areas. That may be volunteering or attending events or simply referring your organization to their friend. The point is, engagement snowballs; when you make it easy to connect with your organization online, you open up your audience’s eyes to possibilities that exist in all areas.

Integrating Elements of Gamification Into Your Association’s Social Media Strategy

“The opposite of play isn’t work, it’s depression.”

The above quote served as the introduction to a presentation on using the science of play to create better association events by Julie King during the CSAE Trillium Chapter’s Summer Summit. King would go on to talk about how play can engage an association’s members and, in another presentation, how organization’s can use the elements of gamification to create a better member experience.

While gamification (the practice of applying the typical elements of game playing to other activities) is often associated with mobile apps, there’s no rule saying that it has to be restricted to the online world. In fact, during King’s presentation, several discussions among attendees resulted in ideas for how associations can use gamification in all areas of their operation.

Having said that, gamification is a perfect fit for association’s looking to boost their social media efforts. By using some of the elements of game play in social media strategy, associations can engage members, promote their services and increase the value they add to peoples’ lives. Here are a few elements of gamification and some ideas on how to integrate them into your social media efforts.

Mystery

Nothing captures peoples’ attention like a good guessing game. Working towards a big discovery is a key part of game play and gives everyone an opportunity to not only focus on the end result, but on the experience and the process as well. Incorporating mystery into your association’s social media strategy every once in a while will give your members a chance to see what your organization has to offer from a different perspective while also giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Integrating mystery into social media can be as complex or as simple as your association wants to make the task. Achieving an air of mystery can be as simple as asking a trivia question about your organization or industry on Twitter or Facebook. For example, you can tweet the question, “Who was our first president?” or “What is the name of the article on page 12 of the latest issue of our magazine?” Racing to find the answer and be the first one to solve this ‘mystery’ provides an opportunity to engage with members, for members to achieve something and for you to drive traffic to areas of your association you want highlighted.

If you want to go a little more complex, social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat are ideal for creating mystery. Providing visual clues for members is a great way to get them engaged and invested in the outcome. For example, post a portion of a picture that defines the location of your next event and have your members guess where the annual conference will be next year. It’s a fun and engaging way to get your members thinking about an upcoming event and give them some stake in the outcome. You can even award a prize to the first person who guesses correctly, which brings us to the next element of gamification…

Reward

Everyone likes getting rewarded for their efforts against fierce competition, whether it’s a trophy for winning the big golf tournament or the accumulation of “money” in a video game. Rewarding your members for a job well-done on social media is a great way to engage members and recognize them for their efforts, which means they are getting more value out of your association.

Again, using a reward system on social media can be as small or as big as your association wants. For example, ask your members to submit ideas for topics they would like to see as a webinar or conference presentation. Collect them and pick a winner who could receive a discounted conference registration or free attendance at the webinar. You can even go a step further and take some of the best ideas and pit them against each other in a bracket-style showdown for the best one. Members can vote each day through Twitter and Facebook (and Instagram and Twitter and LinkedIn, etc.) and the person who submitted the top choice could receive a prize.

If you want to go for something even more creative, try a project like Twitter Bingo. Twitter Bingo works like normal Bingo, but instead of numbers for each of the squares, there are tasks that can only be completed through Twitter, such as retweeting the association, mentioning another member in a tweet and tweeting one fact about the association. You organization can send out the Bingo “card”, members would complete the tasks and send the card back with screen-shot proof and either receive a prize or be entered to win a big reward.

Narrative

Storytelling is one of the best ways to learn. That’s the reason children are taught important life lessons through fairy tales and nursery rhymes and why some of the most popular video games in the world have great story lines. Stories need a good narrative to be successful and there is no better place to get your association’s story out than through social media. By incorporating this element of gamification into your online efforts, your association can connect with members and help educate members about products, services and value in an engaging way.

Integrating a narrative into your association’s social media can be done in a multitude of ways, both big and small and at any point in between. Depending on the platform, the narrative is going to look different. For example, if you association is on YouTube and wants to create a narrative about its conference, you can follow a first-time conference goer around and film his/her experience, edit it together and tell the story of the event through the eyes of a newcomer. This allows you to highlight the event through a unique perspective and one that your members will value. You can also create a recap of your event on YouTube and Instagram or tell the story of an award winner, the organization’s lobbying efforts or its history through a blog or a Facebook post.

If you want to try something a little more complex with a narrative, you can create a Choose Your Adventure blog post to promote your next event. Create multiple scenarios around the story of attending your next event. Members will need to navigate through the scenarios to reach a successful end. This creates a situation in which members will subtly learn about the features of the conference while having fun and being engaged. It also incorporates the concepts of mystery and reward into one project, making this blog post an all-around gamification superstar.

CSAE Trillium Chapter Summer Summit Recap: Finding ROI in Social Media for Associations

Last Thursday, Incline Marketing’s president and founder Marc Cousineau travelled to the Canadian Society of Association Executive’s (Trillium Chapter) Summer Summit in Huntsville, Ontario, where he gave a presentation on calculating the ROI of social media for associations.

The presentation covered various aspects of an association’s social media strategy, from member value to data analysis, determining goals, writing progress reports and making conclusions on return on investment metrics. Although each and every association will have a different take on social media according to their specific strategy, goals and target audience, this presentation seeks to give a template that organizations can use to gauge the efficiency and effectiveness of their online platforms.

A huge thank you goes out to the CSAE Trillium Chapter for giving us the opportunity to share our insights and knowledge on social media and associations. Take a look at the presentation below and feel free to ask any questions or give some feedback in the comment section!

How To Treat Current Events And Trending News On Your Organization’s Social Media Platforms

Navigating the news on social media is a tricky business. Not only is there so much of it to wade through on a daily basis, but because of the 24-hour news cycle and the way we use technology, one story might be popular for what seems like a split-second before another takes it place.

The pace by which news is delivered these days is enough to make you throw up your hands in frustration and declare that you’re over it all. Not so fast! Capitalizing on current events and trending topics can be an important part of content marketing for your small business, association or non-profit. However, it has to be done right or your efforts will be in vain, or worse, backfire on you.

We’ve put together a list of newsy dos and do-nots to help you find your way among the maze of current event topics and use them to your advantage on social media:

DO keep tabs on current events and trending topics

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to get wrapped up in routine and miss something that your organization can comment on or use for its blog, Twitter account or Facebook page. Look at at least one national and one local newspaper a day and keep your eyes peeled for interesting pieces on the trending topic sections on Twitter and Facebook.

DO NOT post about a current event if it doesn’t relate to your organization at all

Your organization’s online community listens to you for a reason; you provide good quality content on topics that they are interested in. They find the information you put out valuable because it is information they can use or relate with. If you are posting about news simply because it’s popular, but it has no ties to your organization, it can leave your audience confused, disgruntled, frustrated and bored. You might get away with it once, but don’t make it a frequent practice.

DO set up a keyword alert on Google News

Google: The ultimate tool for newsies everywhere. The Google News tool is a great source for news from around the world. Setting up a keyword news alert will help you and your organization find articles to share and ideas for blog posts and videos. It will also keep you in the know about the latest trends and topics. As a bonus, the alerts can also help you find mentions of your organization in the news that can be shared or addressed.

DO NOT have a knee-jerk reaction to negative news on your organization/industry

The news you find online about your organization or your industry may not be all sunshine and rainbows. There will always be negative reviews or an opinion piece that throws criticism in your general area. Firing back right away is always the quickest way to create a PR nightmare. Instead, take some time to build a well-thought-out social media response and ensure everyone in the organization is on board with it. Don’t wait a long time to make your case, but have a strategy in place before you do.

DO be respectful when considering a social media post about a tragedy

Tragedies in the news are a sad reality and our first reaction is often to join the many others who are sending messages of support to victims on social media. However, many companies have seen a backlash against social media posts mentioning tragedies, such as 9/11. Before you post about a tragedy, think very hard about how appropriate the message is and its relevancy to your organization. Consider if a day of social media silence is better or if a post from your personal account would be more appropriate.

DO NOT wait too long to post about relevant news

In the sections above, we’ve mentioned that you should pause before posting about current events. However, this pause shouldn’t be too long. The 24-hour news cycle makes it easy for you to blink and miss a trending topic. Create a framework for dealing with breaking news on social media so that when it happens, you can cut down on the time you spend weighing the pros and cons of posting about it and get in on the action.

DO give a fresh perspective on a piece of news that has been trending for a while

There’s only so much of the same basic run-down of a news story that people can read. If there is a trending event that has been popular for more than a day, brainstorm a fresh way to cover it. Tackle it from a different perspective, find a different angle, make it relatable to a different audience and talk to people who no one has talked to before. Being fresh will give your audience a reason to read your material over the same old stuff.

DO NOT hesitate to break news yourself

There’s no rule saying you can’t make the news! If your organization has a newsworthy point of view, tidbit of information or an innovative new way of doing things, make it known to the world. Develop a strategy to market the news through social media, including which platforms you’re going to use, what your message is going to be, how you’re going to keep it fresh, which audience to target, how you’re going to make it newsworthy to the media and how you’re going to handle any potential criticism.

5 Places To Find The Best Content For Your Social Media Accounts

There’s a common phrase used to explain a basic principle of social media that says content is king. However, the platitude doesn’t mean a whole lot if the throne is empty. In other words, you have to find content first before you can think about how you’re going to use it to rule social media.

Finding good content to post to your organization’s social media accounts is often not an easy pursuit. It takes time, know-how and a keen eye. You also have to know where to look. With the mountain of information that is readily available online, finding the content that provides the right kind of value to your target audience can be like finding a needle in a haystack.

Luckily, we’ve taken some of that hay out of the equation by putting together some suggestions for where to look when searching for good content. Hopefully with these five tips, you can find that needle much quicker.

Hashtags

When you want to know the latest on a certain topic, issue or industry, a hashtag can go a long way. If you’re not familiar with the power of hashtags for finding content, it works sort of like this: Twitter is a huge ocean of information being put out by millions of people. If you try to go fishing in that ocean, the chances of catching a fish are slim. Hashtags are like the streams, rivers and ponds that flow from the ocean. They are smaller and more contained, meaning you’re more likely to find a fish if you go searching there.

Find a hashtag that relates to the sort of content you are looking for and explore the content that people are posting to that hashtag. For example, we like to monitor the Association Chat hashtag (#assnchat) for all the news and views on the association industry. People are always posting blogs, articles and expert opinion on this hashtag, the best of which we share with out followers. One of the best ways to find a hashtag that fits your purposes is use hashtagify.me, a site that allows you to type in one hashtag and discover the most popular hashtags associated with it.

Magazines, Newsletters and Other Publications

There is no shortage of specialized publications for the industry you are posting about. If you look hard enough, there are magazines and newsletters and just about everyone, from pet grooming to turfgrass management to hair styling and everything in between. These publications usually contain well-thought-out insights from experts and often include new studies, perspectives and opinions. Many of these publications have online editions as well as hard copies, meaning they can be a source of content for your social media channels.

These magazines, newsletters and other publications are not hard to find. Many trade associations publish their own magazines that they make available online as well. Check out the national or local association to see if you can get access to their publications. Businesses and bloggers often send out weekly or monthly newsletter that you can sign up for as well. Put together a list of publications that you can subscribe to and a list of others that you can check on a weekly basis. Combining the two lists will help keep your content cupboard stocked.

News and Trending Topics

Chances are, over the course of a week or month, there will be more than a few times the news and your organization’s interests intersect. That’s why it’s important to keep on top of current events. When you can share interesting news, whether it’s hard-hitting journalism or a human interest story, your audience can relate to or can use in some meaningful way, they will find both the information and your organization valuable.

There are a few great ways to keep tabs on current events. The first is to set up a Google News Alert. Set an alert that will notify you every time a certain word or phrase is found in the news. This can be more basic, such as “golf” if you are in the golfing industry, or more specific, like the name of your organization. Another way to keep up with the news is through the trending topic section on many social media platforms. For example, keep an eye on the Twitter trending topics. Over time, the trending topics are often configured to match up with the content of your tweets. By keeping an eye on these topics, you can see what everyone is talking about and get in on the action. This way, you won’t be lacking for content.

Your Staff, Board or Customers

Two heads are better than one, so imagine how great five, six or 20 heads would be for finding quality content! You have a lot of great resources at your disposal in the form of your colleagues, board of directors, customers, staff or others that you work with. Most of the time you’ll find that if you simply ask, people will be more than willing to brainstorm with you, point you in the direction of content or pass on some of their own ideas. These ideas are some of the best because they help you find a new perspective that might be lacking in your current content line up.

The best way to go about finding this type of content is to simply ask. Section off half an hour or an hour every week to gather your staff or colleagues together and brainstorm ideas or share content they found during the past week. Create a document on a program such as Google Docs that allow your board of directors to jot down ideas or share blogs, articles, opinions or other forms of content. Create an Idea Box at your store, office or headquarters where customers, members or volunteers can drop off suggestions on which content to cover. All these methods will help keep your content calendar full for a long time to come.

Make Your Own

Whether you have exhausted all your resources and are still lacking content or are just trying to supplement a full schedule with your own take on things, creating your own content is a great idea. Not only do you have full control of original content, this type of social sharing helps drive traffic to your website, increases awareness of your brand and lets you share information that is most valuable and most important to your target audience.

Creating your own content can come in many forms. You can start a blog, a YouTube channel, create infographics, post a Facebook album or make an Instagram account. The best part about using this method of content creation is that it offers the opportunity for so much variety. With a YouTube channel, you can share how-to videos on your Twitter account. With a blog, you can share an interview with a member or an infographic on your products on your Facebook page. There are countless chances to be creative and share great content by creating your own!