How To Turn A Negative Into A Positive When Someone Bashes A Conference Speaker On Social Media

If you’ve read any of our past posts on integrating social media into events and conferences, you’ll know that we’re big advocates of live tweeting/Facebooking/blogging/etc. Opening the door to different elements of your association’s event can help increase your reach, engagement and value among your target audience. For example, when the keynote speaker is talking to attendees, help those who couldn’t be there in person follow along by throwing out some key facts, stats or quotes on Twitter. It’s a great way to show the social media universe you care about them.

But what happens when you share a thought or two from a speaker and it doesn’t sit well with your online audience? We’ve seen it happen and it’s a reality of the game; when you open yourself up to engagement, feedback and adulation, you also open yourself up to criticism.

Conference speakers are almost always experts in their fields and are well-respected in the industry they are involved with. However not everyone is going to agree all the time and more outspoken users of social media will no doubt voice their opinion loud and clear when they disagree with a viewpoint. This can downgrade your efforts on social media, the event and the speaker and make it an unpleasant experience for all. Don’t let this potential scenario scare you away from using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any other platform at your event. In fact, there are a few ways you and your association can turn the tables on harsh critics and make this unfortunate situation a win-win.

The best way to turn a negative comment into a positive is to mould it into a learning experience, one that promotes meaningful conversation and dialogue. Instead of ignoring the comment or shutting down the person who is commenting, start a conversation with them. Thank them for their thoughts and ask them why they feel the way they do or what alternative view they could offer. Be polite and invite the person to express their views in a constructive manner, rather than an outright dismissal of the speaker’s ideas.

Nothing on social media every happens in a vacuum. Other people are likely to see the critical comment and jump in with their own thoughts, perhaps even the speaker themselves. Attempt to be a moderator without taking sides. Instead, attempt to foster positive discussion and help everyone involved realize that differing views can lead to a new perspective or solution on a problem. It’s also ideal to provide people with context to the discussion taking place. Someone who doesn’t have the full story of the discussion can end up saying something volatile because they don’t have all the facts. This can be done especially well on Twitter as the platform allows you to “quote” past tweets and attach them to one of your own, thereby tying the two messages together and providing context.

The process above is an ideal outcome to a negative comment about a presenter or speaker. Unfortunately, there are some who like to take their critiques too far. This happens when the person doing the critiquing makes it personal, uses offensive language, is uninterested in a constructive discussion or veers to another, less salient point in an attempt to keep the conversation negative. In this case, always stay polite and professional if you chose to respond. Your members, attendees, speakers and partners will see your professionalism and attempt to keep the situation civil and productive which will eliminate a negative perception of your organization or the event. Always put your best foot forward and the majority of your audience will respect you for it and realize a good customer service experience when they see it.

The Dos and Don’t of Scheduling Social Media Content for the Holidays

The holiday season looms and so too does the annual, end-of-year office shut-down. As the year draws to a close, you’re likely taking a few days off, whether it’s an organization-wide policy or a choice to spend a few days off to be with family and friends.

This rest and relaxation doesn’t usually come without a flurry of activity right around now, especially for marketers and communication personnel. You take time off from work, but your audience rarely takes a day off from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and so on. This means that you will most likely be scheduling posts to go out on social media ahead of time. If this is your first go-around or even your tenth, here are a few tips to keep in mind when scheduling social media posts during the holidays.

Do use Hootsuite 

Hootsuite is the go-to platform for managing all your social media accounts in one place. It lets you schedule dozens of posts ahead of time on Twitter, Facebook, your blog and Instagram. It’s easy to use and allows you to set specific dates and times of scheduled posts, suggests the best times to post based on your audience’s patterns of use and gives you the option of attaching images and tracking the success of your posts.

Don’t Hawk Your Products or Services

It’s the holiday season so relax a little bit. Your audience has just come off more than a month of intense marketing from all corners of their life leading up to Christmas and is probably looking forward to enjoying some lighter content on social media. It’s not wise to manipulate the message of the holidays in order to draw attention to a money-making opportunity for your organization. Read the room and save the subtle sales posts until after the season.

Do Be Festive and Fun

This is the flip-side to the previous point; everyone is having some fun and taking a day or two to get work out of their mind so you might as well join in. It can be as simple as wishing your audience a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. Schedule this message to go out with a cute picture or fun video greeting from your staff. Add some seasonal hashtags to the mix and keep it short and sweet. No one wants to spend all day on their phones during the holidays!

Don’t Talk About the Weather or Anything Subject to Change

It’s very tempting to schedule a post talking about a white Christmas or snow or cold temperatures, but try to hold yourself back. As we all know, the weather is temperamental so making any claims, as whimsical, fun or clever as they might be, will just look downright silly if the climate changes on you down the road. This goes for any element or even that could change. Stick to safe topics and put a creative spin on them if you want to go outside the box.

Do Check Back in Every so Often

We know, we know, it’s the holidays and you don’t want to think about work, which is why you’re scheduling posts in the first place. The reality is, being a social media manager is a 24/7 job. The Twitter account or Facebook page is often the only line of communication a member, client or customer has with your organization during the holidays. Check in with your accounts every so often, even if it’s once a day, to answer any questions and respond to interactions. This small effort will make your scheduling binge worth every bit of extra work.

Don’t Forget to Tell Them Where You Are

Your don’t need to tell your audience that the entire office is leaving to work on their tan in the Caribbean, but it’s always a good idea to let them know your holiday office hours. Schedule regular posts telling your audience when you will be closed, when their will be reduced hours, when you’ll open up again and how to contact someone in an emergency. People will appreciate having this knowledge as it will save them time and plenty of inconvenience.

What Associations Can Learn About Member Engagement From 3 Popular Facebook Pages

Humans of New York

HONY Blog Post Pic (2)

Why It’s Awesome

The Humans of New York (HONY) Facebook page tells the stories of “regular” New Yorkers using photos, quotes and short stories from the lives of the subjects. The page has over 16 million likes and has spawned best-selling books, speaking tours, massive philanthropic projects and more.

Each post tells the story of someone’s life from their perspective. The end product is content that is interesting and easy to relate to. Not only do people engage with the content, they also go a step further, offering words of support or a financial investment in some of the projects HONY is involved in. This is because the stories give the audience a stake in the outcome.

What Associations Can Learn:

The best lesson from the success of HONY’s Facebook page is that stories sell. The next time you want members to have a stake in the outcome, and therefore be more likely to engage and invest emotionally, financially or otherwise, tell a story. Profile a member, do an interview with a staff member, create a video about the associations history or create any other content that shows the value of your organization from an intimate, human perspective. Make numbers into a story or weave a tale around an announcement or press release. Words are transformed into emotion when they come from someone members can relate to.

Downtown Yonge BIA

DTY BIA Blog Post Pic (2)

Why It’s Awesome:

The Downtown Yonge BIA Facebook page promotes businesses in one of the busiest sections of Toronto. The page has over 3,500 likes, allows its audience to rate it (the current rating is 4.6 out of 5) and is constantly updated with content, photos, videos and more. It is the most successful Toronto BIA on Facebook in terms of engagement and page likes. The popularity of the Facebook page can be attributed, in large part, to its successful attempt to cater to both its members and the general public. The page posts about the successes of its members while managing to make it relevant and valuable to the general public. This strategy captures both target demographics and helps the organization thrive

What Associations Can Learn:

The most significant lesson associations can learn from the success of the Downtown Yonge BIA’s Facebook page is that highlighting members while providing practical, career-enhancing information is an effective strategy. As we mentioned in the HONY example, telling your members’ stories is always a great way to go and if they’ve accomplished something awesome, don’t hold back in telling their story and patting them on the back. It is also important to add some practical advice into your recognition of members. Find out how other members can achieve this same level of success or if there is a lesson that can be learned and implemented across the industry. This way, you are not only giving one member an added benefit, but also proving your value to many other important members of your target audience.

Major League Soccer (MLS)

MLS Blog Post Pic (2)

Why It’s Awesome:

The MLS is trying to promote soccer in a country where baseball, basketball, football and hockey are well-established an immensely popular sports. It’s been, for the most part, very successful in growing the game’s profile and the Facebook page is a big reason why. The page has over 1.9 million likes and routinely receives thousands of interactions on each post. The page does a fantastic job of using pictures and video to keep fans up to date and involved in the league’s activities. It posts interviews with players, recaps of games, great photo albums and short updates on games in progress. This all combines to provide a great experience for the audience and keeps them coming back again and again.

What Associations Can Learn:

The best takeaway for associations from MLS’s Facebook success is to create a great experience for its members. Dig under the surface of each piece of content you are posting and give members a VIP look at it. If you are posting an update on lobbying efforts, government relations or a new piece of legislation, create a video, make your trip to the government meetings into an album and post frequent updates. Capture your events on Facebook by posting short videos, daily recap posts and small ‘extras’ like a speaker answering additional questions a prize to the attendee who contributed the most on social media. This experience-driven content will keep members coming back and eager to see what’s next.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?: Analyzing a Benchmarking Report About Associations and Social Media

A new report detailing how associations use social media was released last week by Marketing General Inc. and the information was beautifully transformed into an infographic by MemberClicks.

The report gives all kinds of great numbers and is a useful source for associations that are wondering how their online communications game matches up with other member organizations.

There are a few conclusions from the report that strike us as, well, interesting. We took a long, hard look at the report’s findings and went a step further, making some discoveries of our own. Here they are, along with some helpful tips and advice for association marketers looking to fine-tune their social media strategy.

Blogs Are Being Under-Utilized

The reports gives a run-down of the social media platforms that are most frequently-used by associations and it’s no surprise that Facebook and Twitter rank as the two most popular sites. Facebook is used by 91% of respondents while Twitter is used by 87%.

However, it was a surprise to find that only 24% of associations maintain a blog. Yes, the Golden Age of blogs ended a while back, but blogging can still be a massively effective way to accomplish the goals associations usually set for themselves on social media. For example, the report also concluded that social media is most often used for event promotion, organizational awareness and association news. Blogs are an amazing way to do all three!

We could write a dozen blog posts about the value of blogging for associations, but we’ll try to condense our blogging love into one last paragraph. Blogging can come in so many different forms, from infographics, to transcribed interviews with members and just a straightforward editorial-type explainer. They can be used to recognize members, highlight certain aspects of your association or its initiatives/events and keep members knowledgeable about the latest developments in their industry. However, the biggest benefit of blogs for associations might just be their ability to drive traffic to the association’s website by sharing the posts on other social media platforms.

Likes, Followers, Fans, Etc Are Over-Glamorized

One of the most interesting pieces of data from the benchmarking report was that a whopping 79% of associations measure social media impact by number of followers, likes, fans, etc. that their accounts accrue.

This is, quite frankly, an unbelievable number and a troubling trend that will only serve to limit the effectiveness of social media for associations. Yes, followers, page likes, etc. are important, but they only skim the surface. Measuring the impact of social media efforts on this metric alone would be like a doctor looking at a patient’s outward appearance for five seconds before declaring them absolutely healthy, only to realize later that the patient has some terrible disease only visible upon further examination. Associations need to look for at least a dozen other metrics before they can get a sense of how well their social media channels are doing and what can be done to improve them.

Again, we can write thousands of words on which of the dozens of metrics are better than analyzing likes, followers, etc. but we’ll list only a few. Demographics are key. You might have 3,000 followers, but if only 100 of them are part of your target audience, then the large following is just a mirage and your message has much less impact. Reach/impressions are also crucial. Again, you may have 3,000 likes, but if no one is looking at your messages, you aren’t really that popular after all. Finally, engagement is a key stat. You don’t just want your members to give an obligatory ‘like’, you want them to share the status update, comment on the post you created and click on the link to your website.

Too Few Associations Are Effectively Posting On Facebook

Most associations are not really using Facebook effectively. Out of the associations that use Facebook, 35% post once a day and 33% post once a week. It is evident that associations have a Goldilocks Problem; one posting frequency is too often and the other is not often enough with too few organizations (31% or less) implementing a just-right option.

Admittedly, this is the most subjective conclusion we drew from the report. Although specific circumstances play a role in how often organizations should post to Facebook (their staffing levels, size of audience, etc.), we feel that there is a general rule-of-thumb that leads to a better return on resources for associations using the platform. For example, posting once a day requires a lot of time and effort to develop content and create a post while Facebook’s algorithms make it less-than-likely that the content will show up on people’s news feeds. Posting once a week or less just means your audience may tempted to relegate you to irrelevancy, meaning your efforts are for naught.

The ideal scenario would be to post to Facebook two to four times a week. This is generally an effective, efficient schedule that keeps your efforts consistent and produces the best quality of content. Because of these factors, this is also the content that has the greatest capacity to draw views and engagement, making the return on resources higher.

How Associations Can Turn Numbers Into A Story On Social Media

From membership numbers to operating budgets, conference registration and website traffic, numbers are important to your association’s success. So, it would stand to reason that your organization has numbers coming out its ears.

On the flip-side, stories are the material that make social media run. A good story will provide your audience with a reason to become emotionally connected with your association and thus make it valuable for them to engage and invest in your organization in the present and the future.

The real question is, how do you turn raw numbers into a great story for your social media accounts? Here’s a few ideas that can raise your online game to a new level:

Put A Face To The Numbers

Here’s the scenario: You have all these numbers floating around your office that show how much you’re helping members; how much members are saving on education each year, the salary increase members get from credential programs, how many members are becoming eco-friendly and so on and so forth. The problem is, you don’t know how to take these raw numbers and turn them into something that will entice members.

Presenting the numbers themselves, as is, can be effective, especially if they are rather impressive. However, singling out a member that is part of that data lets you create a story around their experiences and takes an impressive number and elevates it to pure value. For example, if a member who goes through your association’s credential program earned 25% more based on your salary survey, profile a member who has gone through this process. Give them a write-up on your blog, post a video of the interview on your YouTube channel, post a short version on Facebook and share all this on Twitter.

This takes a number and turns into concrete evidence that your association does help members and create value for them. It makes the numbers more relateable and easier to remember when they are deciding whether to join your association and participate in it.

Get Creative With the Numbers

Here’s the scenario: Your association is presenting their annual findings from its post-conference survey or its compensation survey or its AGM or any other business-as-usual data collection. The problem is, no one seems to be paying all that much attention and you’re wondering how to make people in the industry excited about your efforts again.

Your members see the same information year after year after year and even though the numbers are relevant to their careers and position in the association, they can’t help but let their eyes glaze over when they hear/see the stats. A good way to tell a story with these numbers is to have some fun with them by transforming them into relateable, bite-sized chucks of content. For example, instead of telling members how many hours of education your association provides, tell them how much money each minute at a particular seminar will save them on the job or compare the hours spent at a conference to some other, less valuable pursuits that take the same amount of time (ie. you can drive from Toronto to Winnipeg or you can learn about 8 different topics at our conference). Post these little tidbits to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or wherever!

This fresh perspective on numbers and how they relate to the lives of members tell a richer, more interesting story that simply reeling off stats. It will encourage members to see their investment in a different light and appreciate what the association does for them.

Turn The Numbers Into Visuals

Here’s the scenario: It’s the end of the year and you want to show members and non-members alike what your association has accomplished over the last 12 months. The problem is, you’re unsure how to promote the value your association provides without it looking like a hard sell for membership.

This is a common conundrum that plays an important part in any association’s membership drive & renewal process. Turning numbers that indicate success into content that industry members can consumer and engage with is no easy task. One of the best ways to transform these stats into a story is through visuals. Infographics are a great way to present facts and information in a way that is colourful, engaging and easy to relate to. Infographics are also easy to share on any social media platform you can think of. Another great way to tell a story with these figures is through photos. Document the great times at a conference, the meetings you’ve had with politicians or other allied organization and other ways in which you’ve boosted awareness of the industry. Post these pictures, along with a short, story-like description in an album on Facebook, a board on Pinterest, a collage on Twitter or posts on Instagram.

Visuals are a powerful way to capture the attention of your online audience and stimulate conversation. It brings the ordinary onto a new level and presents members and potential members with definite proof of what your association can offer them.

The 80/20 Rule And Why It’s Crucial For Social Media Success

You may have heard about the 80/20 rule over the past few years. It has become a tenant of the content marketing craze that has pervaded the brand-boosting strategies of everyone from the mom and pop store around the corner to Fortune 500 companies. It goes like this; 80 per cent of the content you post to social media should not be a direct sales pitch for your company or its products and the other 20 per cent should be.

The 80/20 rule is a great start point in understanding how to build a successful social media strategy. As with most things in life, it’s better to realize and act upon the logic behind this rule than to take it as an infallible law. You don’t necessarily need to take 10 pieces of content and ensure each and every one is split along the 80/20 border. However, you do need to make sure the content you are posting has a good balance between a hard sales/promotional approach and an engaging, fun approach.

The logic behind the rule is centred around the goals of your audience and your goals as a business owner, fundraiser, association executive, etc. Your goal, quite simply, is to expose people to your organization and have them spend money on your products or services. The goal of regular individuals on social media (ie. your audience) is to discover information that is valuable. This value might come in the form of information, entertainment or social interaction. The key is to bridge the goals of the audience and the goals of your organization. This is where the 80/20 rule comes in.

Imagine your organization’s social media account is like a store in a busy marketplace in the middle of a park. Not only are there so many choices for the regular person to buy from, but many of the people who come to the park aren’t even looking to shop; they just want to come and have a good time at the park. Your store needs to not only attract customers, but also keep them coming back. You need to let the shopper know what you are selling and  why shopping at your store will bring more value to their life. However, you also need to make the environment of your store a place where people want to go even if they are on a leisurely walk with their friends.

In this scenario, a hard sell is not the most effective approach to the create the aforementioned environment. Catering to the interests and wants of your audience is. If you are selling sports equipment, what is more likely to intrigue casual passerbys with no intention of buying anything: A pitching tutorial from the local baseball star or a banner that says, “Our shoes are the best in town and we have them in every colour you want!” The safe bet would be on the first option. It’s interesting, educational and entertaining all at once. It also gets customers in the door and looking at your products.

Transferring this logic to social media, it’s easy to see how the 80/20 rule breeds success for brands. People are more willing to visit your Facebook page, share your tweet or like your Instagram post (thus increasing exposure) if the bulk of content is something that engages them and doesn’t attempt to embark on a one-sided sales pitch. That is why content marketing is such a hit. Instead of writing a blog about the attributes of your sports products and posting it to Twitter, a smart marketer writes a post about the best places to play sports in their city and posts it to Twitter. That is information that engages people, offers solid advice they use in their real lives and drives traffic to your website, thereby increasing the likelihood they will at least consider spending money on your product.

So the next time you are building a marketing plan or content calendar for social media, make sure you establish a good balance between the hard-sell, aggressive marketing content and lighter, edu-taining (educational and entertaining) content that engages your audience and their interests. Your bottom line will thank us.

How Twitter’s New Polling Feature Can Help Associations Boost Their Marketing Efforts

Twitter has recently undergone a minor facelift, refreshing its look a bit, adding some new tools and rejigging old ones (turning the ‘favourite’ button into a ‘like’ button) in the platform’s ongoing attempt to appeal to social media users.

One of the more interesting parts of this refresh is Twitter’s addition of a polling feature. Facebook users have long had access to a survey-like tool that allows them to measure whether friends want to play board games or drinking games at their next party and Twitter seems to have finally caught on to the usefulness of this type of feature.

Not only is the new Twitter Poll tool fun to use and experiment with, it could also be quite useful to associations. If you’re interested in boosting your organization’s social media strategy and strengthening its efforts in other areas, check out the three ways Twitter Polling can help:

It Can Give You More Data

Content might be king on the front lines of marketing, but data reigns supreme when it comes to building a sustainable, successful strategy for associations. Twitter polls can act as a tool to collect stats and numbers that your organization can use to improve its various initiatives, events and services and attract members.

There are a variety of ways in which associations can get more data from Twitter polls. After all, you just have to ask a question, sit back and see how your audience responds and then act on the information provides. For example, you can ask your followers what part of their job keeps them up at night and provide some options. The answers will help you get a better sense of what problems your members are facing, which will help your association work towards providing solutions (and “solutions” is another word for value). You can build your conference education, webinars and benefits program out of the responses from this question.

Just remember, sample size counts. You can ask the question several times in different ways to make sure you get a total response representative of your membership. Encourage comments and discussion around the results as well to get a broader outlook on the issues your members care about most.

It Can Boost Member Engagement

Member Engagement is the holy grail of association marketing. It’s nice to have lots of people join the organization, but if they aren’t involved, engaged and making the most of their membership, its hard to prove the association’s value, which threatens retention rates. Twitter polls are just one more small way to increase member engagement and bring awareness to the association’s value.

First thing’s first, the very act of asking a question encourages members to get involved by answering. It is an easy way for people to engage with the association without having to fill out a long survey, volunteer on a committee or attend an event. It is the epitome of micro-volunteering. The next step in this process is to act on the responses from the poll. If you ask in a poll what subjects should be the basis of a conference education program and then take the suggestions from your Twitter audience, members will feel like they have made a difference and have a voice in the direction of the association. When people see results from their engagement, they are more likely to keep on participating and finding value in their investment.

Your association can also increase member engagement by simply highlighting some of the services it offers with a Twitter poll. Ask your audience which service they find most helpful. Some members might not even know these services exist. Knowing a service exists will make it infinitely more likely that members use the service and engage with the association.

It Can Provide More Content

Data and member engagement are useful tools for your association and will help it benefit in the long-term, but sometimes you just need to help your members have fun in the here and now. Twitter polls can provide your organization with some great content to use across its multiple communication channels to make flat, clunky-looking content more visually appealing.

Twitter poll questions don’t need to be completely serious all the time. Ask your audience a fun question about their job or the industry. Take their responses and create a visual display of the data for the organization’s e-newsletter, magazine or website. Post the results on Twitter, Facebook or any other social media platform and ask for comments or stories. You may even get an idea for an article or author (or both) from the responses that you can add to your communication channels.

In the end, you have to be able to mix the promotional efforts, attempts at gaining member insight and a fun element to use Twitter polls effectively. The more content you can produce without utilizing a great deal of resources, the more cost-effective your association can be at engaging its community and providing value that will go a long way to retaining members.