Why Blog Posts Alone Aren’t Enough For A Social Media Strategy

You might know us, but we don’t know you. You might be a small business that focuses on serving a niche audience. You may be a professional association looking to reach members, both new and old. Heck, you might even be an individual trying to find a way to boost your personal clout on social media. It doesn’t matter who you are, the point is, if all you’re doing is blogging, you’re doing it wrong.

Blogging is a great way for you to promote yourself, your business and your services, but social media has evolved to a point where a blog alone will not sustain an online marketing strategy. Here’s why that is the case and what it means for your social media efforts:

The Meaning of Blog

There’s a reason why blogs are a popular and effective way to market your organization. In fact, there are several reasons. We’ve outlined them before, but the meaning of a blog boils down to this; you just want to be heard. You want your organization’s efforts, expertise, services and ideas spread to loyal followers and potential partners alike. You want to make it easier for people to find you online. You want to make the best parts of your website more accessible and enticing for visitors. All this starts with a blog because a blog helps your organization’s SEO results, gives a new perspective on the value of your organization and acts as a starting point for website exploration. This might have been enough to suffice in the past, but not any more. If you want to accomplish these goals, you’re going to have to marry your blogging abilities with the use of several other online marketing platforms. Only then will you truly find the meaning of blog.

Go With The SEO Flow

Blogs are great for boosting your organization’s search engine optimization (SEO) results. If you want a potential customer or member to find you on Google, a blog is great. The reason is, Google gets bored; the search engine will knock you down a few pegs in the order if you are not frequently creating fresh, relevant content. Since your home page, contact information, etc., doesn’t change that often, a blog is a perfect way to keep Google interested and your organization’s name at the top of searches.

However, recent changes to Google’s search algorithms mean that a blog alone isn’t enough to catapult you a few spaces and onto the first page of results. Google now emphasizes the importance of other social media platforms in an organization’s SEO results, especially Twitter. Building a presence on multiple social media platforms and consistently posting relevant content to these accounts will help your organization improve its SEO. The bottom line is, the more places you show up online with quality content, the more Google will like you. Do your blog a favour and partner it with another piece of social media, like Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

Go Shout It From The Rooftop

Another important element of a blog is its ability to convey important information. A blog can tell your established community, like loyal customers, about a new initiative you are starting or it can give some interesting insight into your operations for those considering your services. A blog is an important space that is able to highlight the value your organization can bring to an individual and can do so in a variety of interesting, engaging and interactive ways.

This is all fine and dandy for our organization, but the truth is, if no one is visiting your blog, the great content it provides is next to useless. Social media has changed the way people get their news and information and creating a list of must-read blogs is just not as popular as it was a decade ago. It is much more common for individuals to access content from other platforms, such as Twitter or Facebook. For example, Facebook is the main gateway for Millennials to learn about several current event topics, according to an American Press Institute survey. This is the reason why blogs work so well in a social media team; blogs provide the content that engages your target audience and other platforms, such as Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest, act as a megaphone, drawing people in so they can get a better look. So next time you want your blog’s message heard, go shout it on from the rooftop that is formed from one or several other social media accounts.

Go Pave New Roads

One of the biggest and most recent buzz words to start coming from everyone’s mouths is “traffic.” Everyone wants increased traffic to their organization’s website and a blog is one fantastic way to achieve that goal. We have already covered why a blog is great for SEO purposes and how a blog can act as a gateway for people searching for a specific product, service or piece of information that your organization has written about. From your blog, visitors to your website can then look around and explore other parts of the site, which increases the likelihood that they will use your services.

To really get a grasp on why a blog is only one part of increasing traffic to your organization’s website, here’s a little metaphor: Imagine your website is a city that is looking to bring more tourists in to boost its economy. A blog is the equivalent of a plane that flies tourists from one city to your city. This is great for tourism, but to really boost tourism, you would want to operate several planes from several cities. These other planes are your other social media accounts. One plane could be Twitter, which brings people to your website by linking to content from the site in tweets and the account’s home page. Another plane could be Facebook, which also provides links via photo albums, posts, calls to action, etc. The point is, when you pave new roads to your website, it makes it easier for people to visit.

10 Things Associations Can Say With Video, In Honour of YouTube’s 10th Birthday

My, how time flies.

It seems like just yesterday that a young YouTube was entertaining us with Charlie Bit My Finger and Double Rainbow Man while making our mouths water with all the marketing and awareness opportunities it presented. And now YouTube is 10-years-old.

The video-viewing platform has aged well and is still be a terrific option for associations looking to engage with its members. In fact, we have put together 10 examples of how your association can talk to members through YouTube in honour of this milestone. Here they are:

“Look How Our Staff Helps You Every Day”

It’s easy for your members to see your association as a series of circles on their calendar. April is the month to pay dues. July is the summer networking event. November is the yearly conference. YouTube is a great way to show people that your organization is more than just the sum of these flashy events. One way to do this; create a “Day In The Life of Our Office” video. Show members what your staff do every day, what projects and services they are working on and how they define success for members and the association as a whole.

“Here’s How You Can Get The Most Out Of Your Membership”

Members usually have a tough time justifying the expense of membership if they aren’t using the services that come along with it. Sometimes, the reason for this is they don’t know what services are best and how to access them. Underline the value of membership and help members develop their careers by creating a video or a series of videos that highlight lesser-used services or a package of benefits and showing members how to get the most out of them. It will be a small investment with a potentially huge return.

“Our Annual Conference Is Pretty Awesome for Members”

Your annual conference is awesome; you know, your staff know it and your planning committee knows it. Members might not know it, yet. Similar to membership, conferences are often a big expense that people can’t justify without knowing what exactly their getting. Next time you go to your conference, come prepared with a camera. Film all the different aspects of your event, capture what sets your association apart and interview attendees. Put it all together and showcase the sights and sounds of your conference. It will help your association make a more vibrant pitch to members who are on the fence.

“Check Out How Valuable Exhibitors Think Our Trade Show Is”

It’s getting tougher and tougher to convince potential exhibitors that paying for space at your trade show is worth it to them, especially with social media opening up quick and inexpensive opportunities for businesses to reach clients. Nothing will help persuade them to make the investment like hearing the return on investment from a competitor. Create a testimonial-type video with a number of exhibitors mentioning the benefits of your association’s trade show. Interview attendees about the value of the trade show as well. Businesses may not listen to your association, but they will listen to customers.

“This One Member Is Pretty Awesome For These Reasons”

Everyone likes to be recognized. Your association is in the unique position to give exceptional members some attention. In doing so, your organization is setting itself apart by providing members a spotlight in a competitive industry or by simply being known as an organization that rewards loyal, hard-working members. If you hear of a member who has done something interesting or has achieved a big goal, ask them if you can profile them with a video. Tell their story and show other industry members how much more exposure they can gain through your association.

“Learn A Little Something About Our Board Members”

Your Board of Directors is a large influence on your association. The decisions it makes affect every aspect of the membership experience. If your members don’t know your Board, they can’t understand or believe in the choices they make. Creating a video introducing your Board to members is a great way to make your association’s governance more relateable. Videos are an especially handy tool for when a big, association-changing decision is made. You can write press releases all day explaining the logic behind the choice, but hearing it directly from the top (your Board) helps members get used to it faster.

“Look At Our Advocacy Efforts And How They Benefit You”

Associations can set themselves apart through advocacy. The logic behind effective lobbying is “strength in numbers” and this is what associations provide. However, the value of advocacy is often abstract for not easily quantified. Therefore, showing members how your association has their back on important legislative issues with video can add proof to your organization’s claims of value. Create quick clips of your association’s trip to government, film a press conference to make it easier for media to access and interview members on the issues that matter most to them.

“Here’s What We’re Doing For Young Members and Students”

It’s great to recognize long-time members, but it’s also crucial to attract the next generation of professionals to ensure the long-term health of your association. Create a video showing how young members can thrive by joining and participating in the organization. Film events your association provides for young professionals, showcase the awards available for students or interview a younger member about why they feel your association is valuable and a great tool to climb the ladder.

“Check Out This New Member Service, It’ll Help You Out”

Here’s the scenario; your association has just come out with a new service for members and all the staff is excited to launch it. There’s only one problem; your members don’t know anything about the new service. A video will add to your marketing and awareness efforts by explaining to members how to get the most out of this new service. Videos are a useful tool for this purpose because it can provide a explanation for members without overwhelming them with page after page of words while helping them with the addition of visuals, including charts, graphics and point form guides.

“This One Veteran Member Is A Star Of The Industry, Hear Us Interview Him”

Veteran members are a great source of compliments for your association. Your association has probably been a valuable resource for this member which is likely the reason they have stayed with you for so long. Film a short interview with this veteran member and talk with them about their accomplishments. Ask them about their commitment to the association and how it has helped them develop professionally. Hearing the value of your organization from a trusted colleague in the industry will help convince potential members that it’s worth following their lead.

5 Ways to Integrate Social Media into your Association’s Next Membership Drive

There are two types of members when it comes to membership drives; those your association wants to retain and those your association wants to recruit.

While this is simplifying things a little too much, it does highlight a significant point for associations and their membership strategy. It’s vital that organizations think about their different audiences when it comes time for a membership drive and tailor their communications to each segment.

Social media is one communications tool that associations can effectively use to connect with different demographics during a membership drive. Just like other media, online platforms don’t follow the one-size-fits-all motto. That’s why we’ve taken a look at the five people your association encounters during a membership drive and how to draw them to your organization through social media.

The Loyal Member

Everyone likes a little recognition, especially members who have invested in your association time and again. Social media give your organization a perfect platform to offer these members something in return.

Your association can profile a long-time member on its blog or in a video. It’s also a great idea to post about loyal members on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms during a membership drive. For example, tweet that a member has been a part of the association for 30 years and one interesting fact about them. Not only does this show loyal members that they are appreciated, it also highlights your association’s culture of recognition and shows others that they will be rewarded if they stick with the organization year after year.

The Lapsed Member

These are the members that your association has an on-again off-again relationship with. They were members for a bit, but haven’t paid the dues in a year or two. They’ve seen what your organization can do and didn’t find it worth their while. This where social media can team up with other communication tools and win back the hearts of lapsed members.

To create an effective social media strategy around lapsed members for membership drives, you first have to find out why they left in the first place. Using surveys or good old fashioned telephone calls can help you pinpoint the issues that created a rift between your association and lapsed members. Once you have this information, build your social media strategy around showing lapsed members how your organization has improved. For example, if lapsed members say they didn’t get enough out of events/conferences, create how-to videos on best practices in networking and getting the most value out of your association’s events/conference. Share these videos on several platforms and make lapsed members reconsider.

The Long-Time Non-Member

There are some people who aren’t members and have never been. These are the people that associations crave during a membership drive, but are often the hardest to attract. The reason for this reluctance usually focuses on a perceived lack of value that membership provides an individual. Social media, specifically infographics, can be a strong force in reversing this type of thinking.

Infographics jazz up the cold, hard numbers in an easily-readable, informative format, which makes it ideal to prove value to skeptical potential members. Crunch the available numbers on the value of benefits, programs and events and repackage them to create a positive overall picture of how your association helps members. For example, create a chart comparing the yearly spending of non-members vs. members, calculate the total savings and input it into the infographic. Infographics can be shared on almost any social media platform, which makes it a great way to reach a lot of people in any given industry and dispel any myths about a lack of value.

The New Non-Member

These are the fresh-faced individuals who are new to the industry and who your association will have to woo with a great first impression during a membership drive. Most of these potential members are part of a younger generation and are focused on networking to create a good foundation for their career. This makes for an interesting opportunity for your association on social media.

LinkedIn is a popular social media platform for young professionals looking to network and make a mark in an industry. Creating a LinkedIn group, posting articles and starting conversations is a great way to include young professionals and reinforce a culture of accessibility, customer service and learning. Moderating Twitter chats are another way to connect young professionals to industry veterans through your association and establish your organization as the go-to resource for career development. Writing blogs about relevant issues for young professionals can also highlight your association’s commitment to those who just entered the profession.

The Business Member

Industry professionals probably make up the bulk of your association’s membership, but business members (those who provide services to your main membership group) can be a crucial part of your revenue strategy and membership drive. Social media is a great way to convince potential business members to invest in your association.

One of the best ways to showcase the association’s value to business members is for companies to hear it from other companies. This means a simple guest blog can work wonders. Write a blog post that includes an interview with a current business member or, even better, recruit a loyal business member to write their own post. Focus the post on the benefits available to business members and how to best access these benefits. You can also present value in an infographic about trade show stats, sponsorship opportunities and other services.

Let’s Face It, Social Media Might Be A Loss Leader For Your Association, But It’s A Leader Nonetheless

First thing’s first; social media can have a great return on investment for your association. It might not always be the traditional, financial, X-number-of-retweets-equal-Y-amount-of-revenue. It could have a money-focused tinge to it, but where organizations are going to see the biggest impact is in the formation of first impressions.

Let’s get the terminology out of the way right now. For those who don’t know what a loss leader is, it’s a product or service offered by an organization that doesn’t directly increase profit, but gets people in the door and investing in other areas. For example, companies will sell printers at a loss in order to stimulate sales of their ink cartridges. Social media can act much the same way.

Here’s the scenario; a non-member is on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/etc., and sees a colleague retweet/share/like a post from your association. The content they see from your account interests them or is a helpful resource. This may be their first impression of your association in action or their first impression of your association ever. They may connect with your account, see the value of the organization and invest in a membership, service or event. In that way, your association may bring in a handful of members through the great first impression it presents on social media. After all, people go online these days to meet information and its sources.

It’s great that social media brought new members into the fold, but let’s be honest, the revenue gained from these new members does not equal the money spent on it. However, word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool. If one person has a great experience with your association, they will tell colleagues, clients or staff. This may lead to further investments in membership and increased revenue. This great experience started with a great first impression; a warm, helpful greeting as a non-member enters into your association’s house. This warm greeting is called social media.

Let’s face it, social media might be a loss leader for your association. You might spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on it every year and not see that money come back to your organization in the form of direct revenue. That’s okay. It’s a service that your association offers to help members. It’s a tool to shine a spotlight on your association and its benefits. It’s an avenue to engage members and non-members alike as well as start a conversation with sponsors and policy makers. All those elements combine to bring people into the door, to drive traffic to your website and its registration page and give your community a chance to voice their positive feedback in a public forum.

Loss leader isn’t a dirty word. Yes, it implies your organization might lose money on this particular activity, but it also implies that it’s a leader. Social media can help lead your association on the right path, it can help guide members and non-members to the most helpful resources you have and it can give a boost to other areas of your organization’s revenue strategy.

How Social Media Can Help Your Organization Prove Its Value

Bang for buck, return on investment, your money’s worth; it doesn’t matter what you call it, the importance of value to your clientele cannot be overstated.

Whether it’s members, donors or customers, it’s crucial for your organization to highlight its value to them. After all, they’re investing their hard-earned cash on your products and services.

Most organizations do provide as much value as they can, but it’s figuring out how to show this value that can be difficult. Words can make believers of some, but sometimes that doesn’t cut it. Visuals can be a powerful source of proof, but even those fall short sometimes. Videos can oftentimes act as the looking glass onto value. The great thing about social media is, you don’t have to pick just one of these mediums, you can combine all three!

Words

The written word is a powerful tool for your organization to underline the value it provides to its community. Fortunately, there is no shortage of opportunities on social media to use words creatively and effectively for this purpose.

Twitter may only allow you to write 140 characters per post, but even though each tweet is one drop in the bucket, it fills it up fast. Live-tweeting an event or initiative is one way words can have an impact on your community’s perception of your value. For example, if your association is advocating by conducting a lobby day, live-tweeting the process puts all the work the organization is doing into perspective. When, at first, a member may see a advocacy as a vague term holding little value, clear, brief and specific details, as they happen, will give members something more tangible. It also allows members to have more say in the process, adding value to their membership.

What Twitter does in 140 characters, blogs can do more in-depth. Having a blog section on your organization’s website allows for stories to be told about the work your organization is doing and how it is adding value to peoples’ lives. For example, conducting an interview with a customer, member or donor about their experiences with an event, benefit or product doesn’t just tell the rest of your community how valuable you are, but shows them with the words of someone who is relateable and has the same goals and needs as them.

Visuals

Visuals, like photos or infographics, can drive the value point home to many members of your community. Visuals are engaging and help put meaning to the words and phrases people hear over and over again.

Infographics are great tools to use when you have a lot of nifty data that proves your value, but you don’t exactly know how to present it to your community. Data is powerful, as many of your members, customers or donors want to quantify how your organization is of value to them. Instead of running through a list of numbers, infographics make these figures visual and engaging. For example, if you want to show how much a professional will save as a member as opposed to a non-member, charting it out with an infographic will draw the attention of individuals and make it easier for them to see your organization’s value without having to wade through long lines of text or large strings of calculations.

Photos can also act a way to highlight how your community’s contributions have resulted in something concrete and valuable. Posting albums to Facebook, images to Pinterest or snapshots on Instagram allows people to see what they getting for their money or time. For example, posting photos of your organization’s trip to build a school in a foreign country or deliver products to a local hospital gives donors a clear vision of how they are helping and where their investment is going. It also allows them to comment on and share in the experience even when they are not physically there, which also provides value.

Videos

Videos are to pictures what blogs are to words; they offer organization’s a platform to deliver more in-depth explanations and bring smaller chunks of information to life. This allows you to tell the story of your organization’s value in a more useful and engaging way.

We have explained in-depth about the advantages that how-to videos can give your organization when providing and explaining value for your community. Along with how-tos, short video interviews with members or staff showcase your organization in action, gives a look at the effectiveness of your products/services and highlights the work being done by staff or volunteers to make your organization the best it can be. For example, making a short video of a “day in the life” of a staff member shows your community how your organization is striving every day to make their lives better. The personal angle, along with engaging visuals and relevant detail helps your community get a better perspective on the value your organization provides.

Shorter snippets, such as the 6-second Vine videos, can also be used by association, non-profits and small businesses to show value. While these videos don’t necessarily give your community a lot of detail and information, they act as a teaser and provide your audience a sense of potential for value. For example, if your small business is having a sale, a Vine or Instagram video of some of the merchandise on sale will pique the interest of your audience and show them the potential value of their visit.

The Five Types of Videos That Will Better Engage Your Association’s Membership

There’s a reason FaceTime and Skype are popular communication apps; it’s always better when you see the face that matches the voice.

The above statement can help association’s learn a little something about connecting with members. Every organization has a voice they strive to speak with and that voice is developed over time through newsletters, advocacy, magazines, websites, events and similar communication initiatives. When association’s do it well, members come to recognize and trust this voice. However, putting faces to that voice can be a key piece in raising your association to the next level. Videos are a great way to accomplish this goal.

Videos can come in all shapes and sizes. So which videos are the right ones for associations? We’ve put together a few examples that can help you cover important angles of your organization and better engage members.

Highlighting Members and Their Achievements

Members are the lifeblood of any association. Without members, there is no organization. Every benefit, every event and every project is based on helping members grow and be successful. But you knew all of that already. Videos can help your organization highlight members, their contribution to the industry and society and draw attention to your association’s part in that success. A video will give your members a platform to speak about their accomplishments. It will also help people realize that you are focused on helping professionals excel. A video is important as it puts a face to the name and it allows others tell the community about the importance of your association instead of it coming from the association itself, which can often be tuned out.

Event Previews and Recaps

Events serve two main purposes; to give members a chance to learn and network and to capture a big percentage of your association’s non-due revenues. Drawing people to events is never a cakewalk, especially if you are a national association that has to persuade members to spend money traveling and attending. Videos can help your organization engage members and play a part in promoting key events.

An event preview video can come in the form of a digital tour of the venue, presenters talking about their sessions, or a long-time attendee talking about the value they get from the event. An event recap can be a bit more fun and creative, showing all elements of the event. It will appeal to an attendee’s nostalgia and encourages promotion of future events through word of mouth.

Welcome to the Office

Long-time members, new members and potential members of your association all want to know that the people working for them are dedicated, passionate and focused. Your staff are the ones working behind the scenes to ensure the organization is living to its promises and creating the best experience for members. A video can help put this into perspective for members and can go where words often cannot when describing the importance of the association.

Videos that introduce members and potential members to the association can focus on a Day-in-the-Life theme to highlight exactly what the staff does to improve the organization, or it can an introduction of the staff with them explaining what the association means to them. These sort of videos are a warm welcome to new members, familiarizes existing members with staff and provides a human element to the organization for potential members.

How-to Guides

The value of a good how-to cannot be overstated. Your members come to your association because they want to achieve more in their careers and help grow the industry. Your association is probably giving them the tools to accomplish this, but they may not be clear on how to use these tools most effectively. This is where how-to videos come in handy.

A how-to video can help members access the right programs/benefits for their goals, it can help them take advantage of the initiatives your association has instituted and it can help guide them through processes that may seem complicated at first. For example, if one of your association’s benefits is a certification program, a video showing the steps involved in achieving this certification and how to complete them can be advantageous to members who may be confused by the process. This will help members receive greater value for their money and will allow your association to see a greater return on investment.

Association News and Accomplishments

We’re guessing that your association achieves a lot. It has probably helped its members’ profession rise to new levels and redefined what it means to be part of the industry’s community. But does anyone really even half of everything the association has achieved? Maybe or maybe not. With a video, the answer leans more toward a for sure.

Videos are a great way to tell a story about the latest developments on your association. You can illustrate how the organization met with politicians to lobby on its members’ behalf, or showcase a new technology that members can use. Videos are an engaging way to showcase what can seem like mundane news because their images are engaging and capture the attention of members. So next time you need some more awareness of your association’s news, try a video on for size.

The Pros and Cons of Private Social Media Networks for Non-profits

Private social networks have been around for a while, but have recently become more popular with both brands and individuals. This growing trend in private communities has meant an uptick in the diversity of platforms and the features they offer.

This growth is definitely worth paying attention to if you’re in the non-profit and association world. These private platforms have untapped potential for organizations looking for any advantage they can in providing value to their communities. But with great reward comes great risk and there are many things to consider before jumping onto a private network.

So before your organization leaves its Twitter account or Facebook page for a newer, hotter platform, check out the pros and cons for starting a private social media network.

Pro: Private social networks protect the benefits of membership. The old saying, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free, is a main reason people might not be joining your association. If a non-member is able to get the same value as a member from your social media efforts, it only adds to this rationale. Having a members-only social network gives more incentive for non-members to join to get access. It also provides more value to existing members and makes them feel like part of an exclusive group.

Con: You can’t connect with people who aren’t members. The whole purpose of a private network is to restrict your audience to just those investing in your organization. This makes it pretty much impossible to use your private network to highlight or promote member benefits or your organization’s events to non-members.┬áHaving a loyal membership is amazing, but your organization may stagnate if you aren’t trying to bring new members into the fold.

Pro: Only people who are passionate about relevant topics will join, which will probably lead to great content quality. If your non-profit only allows those who are passionate about a cause or industry onto your private platform, the content you share, and is being shared by others, is going to be high-calibre. Everyone in the group benefits when the content is better and your organization gains a reputation of providing accessible, informative material for members.

Con: Your content may be better, but at what cost? Operating private networks, along with any other social media accounts your organization might operate, takes a greater commitment of time and money. Some of these networks also cost money to set up, especially if you build a custom platform. While the return may justify the investment for some non-profits and associations, not all organizations have the resources to find out.

Pro: The content you share on a private network can be more targeted. Your organization already has a group of people who are interested in your industry or cause by their very participation in your non-profit and in your private network. Reaching out to these people can be more targeted as you know their interests, passions and career arc. You may even receive more engagement, as there is a more personal feeling on private networks than other types of social media.

Con: It takes extra effort for your audience and yourself. Chances are, your audience is already on the “open” social networks, like Twitter and Facebook. Signing up for a private network, accessing it and checking it daily can turn into an unnecessary hassle. The same can be said for yourself. Not only do you need to take the time to create a great account, but you also have to promote the fact that this private community exists, which means more time and money without any guarantee of success.

Kinds of Private Online Communities

1. Private-Public Platforms

These are the platforms that most people know and love, such as Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs. These social networks are most often public, but also provide the option to make your account private. You have an invite only LinkedIn group, a locked Twitter account that filters followers and a blog that is only available through a members-only portion of your website.

2. Stand-alone Private Platforms

These are the social media networks that are built to house private communities. There are many of them, most geared toward specific uses, such as professional associations or even teachers and their classrooms. A few of the more popular ones include Path, 23Snaps and Everyme.