Three Ways Your Organization Can Freshen Up Its Social Media Content

Social media is often a “What have you done for me lately,” game and if your answer to that question is, “What we usually do,” your organization might be in trouble.

Nobody likes seeing stale, monotonous content on social media. For example, if your organization’s tweets consist of two republished articles and a page from your website every single day, your followers might go elsewhere for their daily dose of creativity and engagement.

You might be saying, “Well, we do the same thing again and again because it works. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” You’re very right, you need to be consistent in giving your network what they want and if tweeting three republished articles every day gets engagement from the right people, you’re doing well. However, fresh content and the usual, reliable content can coexist on the same social media account. Fresh content is a way to engage a wider audience, highlight more value and set you apart from the crowd.

Look at it this way; your house could look absolutely amazing with antique furniture and classic paint colours, but if you still have that ratty couch you pulled from the dumpster in your college days, that’s all anyone is going to be looking at. Add a fresh couch and it completes the entire home.

If you’re stuck on how to inject some newness into your content, fear not, we have your back with these three ideas:

1. Get Tweeting, March Madness Style

It’s the latter days of March and that means it’s time for the NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournament, which is like Christmas for college sports fans. Millions of people fill out their brackets before the tournament and watch the games on TV with fervent attention. Why not have your organization tap into this cultural phenomenon while creating fresh content for social media by having its own March Madness style initiative on Twitter?

If you need some ideas for what this would look like, think about your association’s next conference. Think of eight, 16 or even 32 speaking topics and pit them against each other. Ask your Twitter followers to retweet for one choice or favourite for the other and slowly eliminate the topics until you have one or two champions. This will get your members involved and excited for the event while adding a breath of fresh air to your social media content.

2. DIY Quotes Across Multiple Platforms

People love quotes. There’s something about seeing a product, organization or idea captured by one person’s wisdom or wit that makes people want to engage on social media. One study concluded that tweets with quotes received a 19% boost in retweets. If you scroll through Facebook or Pinterest, you’ll pass a quote as often as a you pass another car on the highway.

Your organization can take advantage of this trend in human nature, but with a twist. Don’t rely on mining quotes from famous authors or philosophers, source quotes from your community and target audience. Call up a veteran member of your association or a loyal customer of your business, ask some questions and let them know what it’s for. Extract a quote that captures the value of your services, your business concept or the community. Post this quote on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest and link to your website.

Using the conference example again, call a member of your association that frequents the annual conference and talk to them about the importance of education. They might say something along the lines of, “Education is the rungs of the ladder that has helped me rise in my career.” Not only is it a quote (which is awesome for engagement), but it comes from someone your target audience trusts. It also injects a little fun into your daily posts.

3. A “Life in a Day” Remix

Three years ago, YouTube decided to pursue a massive project; create a movie that captures the day in the life of people from all over the world using footage from regular people. It was a huge success, garnering more than 10 million views on YouTube and receiving plenty of accolades.

Your organization’s version might not be this successful, but it can definitely add a little something extra to your video efforts. Put a camera at the front of your office or store and encourage staff, volunteers, visitors, members and customers to record their experiences whenever they get the urge. Tell your network to get busy filming on their own, recording their life in a day or a week. Provide some prompts on what to talk about and tie them into your organization. Edit these clips together them together and show the world how different people view your organization and how your organization adds value to people’s lives.

This is a great way to incorporate fresh views on your association, non-profit, charity or small business into one video while including everyone from staff to your board of directors, customers, members and volunteers. It also provides an we’re-all-in-this-together vibe that strengthens your community, both online and off line.

Grading Your Organization’s Social Media Efforts: The 5 Cs of Success

Evaluation happens on a regular basis. You can’t hide from it. From the small things, like checking to make sure there’s enough food in your fridge, to the large decisions, like where your career path is taking you, analysis is constant. Sometimes, it can be draining, over times it can be exhilarating, but it’s always necessary.

Evaluating your organization’s social media efforts are no different. Whether you’re a veteran or a relative newcomer to any platform, grading yourself on strategy and results is crucial to growing, improving and benefiting your organization as a whole. Assessing your own efforts is never an easy task, which is why we’ve created an easy-to-use grading system using the five Cs; consistency, creativity, completeness, calculation and crowd.

Consistency

Consistency is a fundamental part of even a mildly successful social media account. Without a consistent presence on any platform, engagement will fall off, your audience will leave and your efforts will amount to very little. When looking at how well your organization does in this category, you need to evaluate how often are you posting, how often key details are refreshed and how often you are responding to engagement.

What Gets You an A- Daily or weekly posting (depending on the platform), updating various sections of your profile on a regular basis, such as a profile picture or a pinned tweet, and responding to engagement in a very timely manner (within 6-12 hours).

What Gets You a B- Regular posting (daily or weekly depending on the platform) with infrequent or rare lapses, updating your profile on a semi-regular basis (ex. every quarter instead of every month) and responding to engagement only once a day.

What Gets You a C- Infrequent, but scheduled posting (such as once a week, bi-weekly or once a month on the same day, depending on platform), updating your profile every 6-8 months and infrequently responding to only selected engagement.

What Gets You a D- Infrequent, sporadic and unplanned posting (ie. tweeting once every two weeks on different days), updating your profile once a year or less and responding to very few interactions.

What Gets You an F- This is a failing grade that usually means your account is dead. There has been no posts in quite some time or ever, your account has never been updated (or, as we’ll see later, ever been completed) and engagement has been abandoned.

Creativity

Creativity is in the eye of the beholder, but it’s not quite as subjective as you might think. A lack of creativity leads to the dreaded B-word; boredom. Having boring content spells trouble for any social media account. Some things to consider when grading yourself on creativity are the amount of original content, the variety of content and the relevance of the content.

What Gets You an A- Original content appears a majority of the time and in many different forms, such as infographics, articles, videos and fun headlines. When using other people’s content, it is always relevant to your target audience and comes in many different forms and from diverse sources.

What Gets You a B- Original content is makes up roughly half of your posts and is a few key forms of delivery are used (ex. articles and videos). Posts are clear and concise. Re-published content comes from a regularly-used pool of sources and a vast majority is relevant to your target audience.

What Gets You a C- Original content makes up less than a quarter of posts and comes from a limited forms, such as only press releases. Posts are short and to the point with no added elements, such as visuals or imaginative headlines. Re-published content comes from a small pool of sources and strays from relevance at times.

What Gets You a D- Original content makes up less than 10% of posts or is non-existent and comes in limited forms. Posts are short, dull and/or copied from other sources. Re-published content comes from the same handful of sources and strays from relevance often.

What Gets You an F- A failing grade comes from hijacking other people’s creativity completely. There is no original content and a large majority of re-published content is copied word for word or is simply shared with no extra thought (retweeted, repinned, etc).

Completeness

A painter would only let their art be hung in a gallery when they feel the final brush stroke has been added. The same should go for your social media accounts. When certain elements of your accounts are left incomplete, it creates a lack of legitimacy, lowers accessibility and tarnishes the experience for your audience. Consider if all sections are filled in, if the settings are up to date and if the layout is appealing and formatted correctly.

What Gets You an A- All sections in the “About” settings are filled in, including contact information, a description of the organization and additional details like photos or membership tools. Photos spots are filled in and images are sized correctly, relevant and vibrant.

What Gets You a B- All sections in the “About” settings are filled in, but with few or no additional details or tools. Photos spots are filled in, but some images are sized incorrectly and/or clash with each other.

What Gets You a C- Some sections in the “About” settings are filled incomplete or out of date and contain few details and no additional tools. Only some photos spots are filled in and/or some images are sized incorrectly.

What Gets You a D- Few of the “About settings are filled in and the ones that are have spelling mistakes and/or are out of date. Only some photo spots are filled in, the images are sized incorrectly and the images fail to show viewers what your organization is about.

What Gets You an F- A failing grade in this category means your account is a mere skeleton. None of the “About” sections are filled. Photo spots are not taken up by images (ex. the dreaded egg picture on Twitter) and the user experience is confusing or out of date.

Calculation

Remember how we talked about the importance of evaluation? Well, it’s vital to do an evaluation of how you evaluate. It’s key to know the response you are receiving from your social media efforts and if your goals are being achieved. Think about how frequently you are keeping track of results, how often you are analyzing these numbers and what strategy you have for using these results to improve.

What Gets You an A- An in-depth analysis of results on a weekly or monthly basis. A summary of these numbers into a detailed report. Development of a plan that uses these results to adjust and/or improve your social media strategy moving forward.

What Gets You a B- An in-depth analysis of results on a monthly or bi-monthly basis. A shorter summary of these numbers into a report. Development of a plan based on every two or three of these reports to adjust strategy.

What Gets You a C- An in-depth analysis of results on an infrequent basis, such as once a year. A very short or non-existent summary of these numbers into a report. No development of a plan based on these reports to improve your strategy.

What Gets You a D- A surface analysis of results on a very infrequent basis, such as once a year or less. No report to summarize and analyze these numbers. No development of a plan based on the numbers you have tracked. A limited understanding of how these results affect your strategy and how to improve them.

What Gets You an F- A failing grade in this category means you are completely unfamiliar with the process of tracking social media results. There is no analysis or report based on numbers and no process is in place to gather results. No plan has ever been instituted to examine strategy improvements based on data.

Crowd

It doesn’t matter how well you do on social media if no one is listening. Having an audience is important to getting the word out and achieving results. When measuring success in this area, you need to examine the size of your following, the growth rate of your audience and the percentage of your following that is your target audience.

What Gets You an A- While the meaning of a large following can differ from organization to organization, it should be equal to more than your target audience. For example, if you’re an association with 1000 members, a large crowd would be 1100+. If you’re small business with 5,000 people in your neighbourhood, a large crowd would be 5,500+. Your audience sees a steady and/or daily increase in its audience. More than 75% of your audience is your target demographic.

What Gets You a B- The following is 75-100% of your target audience (ex. 750-1000 for the aforementioned association). Your audience grows steadily, showing a small increase from month to month. Your following is made up of 50-75% of your target audience.

What Gets You a C- The following is 50-75% of your target audience (ex. 500-750 for the aforementioned association). Your audience is stagnant or shows very little growth from month to month. Your following is made up of 25-50% of your targeted audience.

What Gets You a D- The following is 10-50% if your target audience (ex. 100-500 for the aforementioned association). Your audience is stagnant or shows frequent losses from month to month. Your following is made up of less than 25% of your targeted audience.

What Gets You an F- A failing grade in this category means that no one is interested. You have a very small or non-existent following amounting to less than 10% of your targeted audience. Your audience shows no growth or frequent losses from month to month. Your following is made up of very few members of your target audience and is full of spam or irrelevant accounts.

Thinking Outside The Mail Box: What Email Can Do, Social Media Can Do Better

Email has been the champion of mass communication platforms for a long time, and for good reason, but no one is perfect. Email has its limitations and its flaws, especially when you’re an association looking to expand its reach and better serve its members.

The time when email was the only way associations and non-profits connected with their community online is now over. Social media has long-ago inserted itself into everyday use for organizations looking to get the word out. Its not enough to send a regular newsletter to 1,000 inboxes or continually promote causes, events and news with email blasts any more. While email is still a valuable way to supplement your marketing and communications efforts, social media has evolved to arguably become the stronger of the two outreach methods.

If you’re still a little skeptical (or a lot skeptical), give us a chance to make our case. Here are three things that email does well, but social media does better:

Recruiting Volunteers

Volunteers are an important part of any operation. Whether its reaching out to members in an effort to fill committee spots or to the general public to help a cause, communicating your organization’s goals and convincing people to join in achieving them is no easy task.

Email requests for volunteers often fall on deaf ears. Unfortunately, they too often become text-heavy nuisances that get lost in the sea of other important messages your members receive on any given day. Social media, on the other hand, allows your organization to be in the right spot at the right time while also highlighting how volunteers can make a difference, not just in the lives of others, but in their own as well.

The majority of LinkedIn users are looking for a professional leg-up. Your LinkedIn page/group is where your members or community go to share their expertise in the form of articles, network and seek out opportunity. This makes LinkedIn the perfect place for your organization to advertise its need for volunteers. It’s a perfect match between opportunity-seeker and an organization in need. Additionally, LinkedIn’s Non-profit Volunteer Marketplace offers organizations a dedicated space to post opportunities and appeal to those who are specifically looking for volunteer roles in their community.

Besides LinkedIn, infographics and videos allow an organization to chart out the value of volunteering with your organization. These tools, easily published on YouTube, a blog, Twitter and Facebook, answers the question, “What’s in it for me,” that many in your community might be asking. Rather than giving a vague, down-the-road response, show the pay-offs quite clearly. For example, if your association is looking for volunteers to join the a committee, chart out the impact their decisions could have on the organization or create a video in which current committee members explain how their participation has benefited their career.

Promoting Events

Nothing says “typical, old event” like a half-dozen, text-laden promotional emails leading up your organization’s conference or initiative. Let’s face it, if you do the same marketing over and over again, your community is going to start wondering if the event is going to offer anything other than what they’ve already seen in past years.

Social media offers your organization a host of new ways to promote your event that compliment your email regiment and draw attendees, both loyal ones and newbies. We’ve covered many of the ways in which social media can help promote your organization’s event and when comparing these opportunities with what email offers, its not much of a contest.

The opportunities that social media gives your organization in promoting events can be split into two main categories. The first is proving value. We showcased the ability of infographics and video to convey value in the previous section on recruiting volunteers and the same can be said for promoting events. Tweets and Facebook posts also allow your organization to focus on one area of your events that will help provide value to potential attendees without overloading them with information or a hard-sales approach. But probably the most effective approach in convincing someone to attend an event is to hear it from someone they can relate to. Blog posts can do wonders in this area. Have a member write a post about their good experience at an annual event or something along the lines of, “Five ways to get the most out of the annual conference.” This will help members see that your attempts at promotion are not driven solely by money, but by a genuine desire to help your community.

The second of the aforementioned categories is giving your community a voice. When you allow your community to help shape the event in small ways, it will help build their faith in the value of the event and pride in helping shape it. Social media gives your organization the ability to accomplish this crucial task. Tweets, Facebook posts, blog comments and contests that can be spread over multiple platforms allow your community to chime in on everything from catering choices to lecture topics, entertainment selections and the registration process. While it is important to give your community a voice, provide carefully thought out options for key elements of your event or risk committing to something that’s over budget or impossible to deliver.

Interacting with Members

Interacting with members has always been important. Keeping your association’s community informed about organizational news, industry trends, important legislation and feedback opportunities, such as surveys, has always been a way to support members. With the advent of social media, increased interaction between member and association has become expected. While email does allow the dissemination of information, it doesn’t quite lend itself to the back-and-forth of conversation like social media does.

Email is great for relaying basic information, but social media gives associations the opportunity to showcase different perspectives of issues and initiatives. For example, an email about an association’s lobbying efforts is an effective way to convey information and updates, but a video, a blog post and/or live-tweeting give members more access to both knowledge and value, while allowing them to comment and join in.

Social media also allows your association’s members to ask questions and get the specific answers they are looking for, something unavailable or overwhelming with mass emails. The best example of this comes from platforms like Twitter or Facebook. Members are given the chance to ask questions, such as, “How do I access the online version of the association’s publication,” and get a timely and tailored response. These platforms are also conducive to asking for and receiving feedback. Posting a poll on Facebook or tweeting out a question, such as, “What was the best part of last week’s conference?” gives your community an opportunity to respond and take part in shaping their own organization.

Lastly, social media is a great tool for association’s to help stimulate conversation not just between the organization and members, but between members and their colleagues. LinkedIn discussion boards and Twitter chats are platforms that organizations can use to promote conversations and increase the amount of networking and information provided to members. Email is an unlikely source for this sort of all-way, timely and flexible communication.

A Guide to Handling Your Organization’s Rebranding Efforts on Twitter

There comes a time in (almost) every organization’s life when it must rebrand itself. To those organizations planning to go through it, Twitter is there for you.

Rebranding is never easy and most of the time it’s a downright pain in the rear, but sometimes it’s necessary for associations, non-profits or small businesses. A total changeover at any organization includes a reshaping of the Twitter account. The transition has to be done right, but when it is, Twitter can make the whole process easier for the organization and its community.

Before the Rebrand

The time leading up to a rebrand is longer than the time is actually takes to transition an organization. There’s planning, research, consultations, stakeholder meetings and more. Using Twitter can make this planning process a little easier on everyone involved.

Rebranding can leave your community a little lost. Giving them as much information as possible leading up to a rebrand is crucial to keeping them informed, engaged and loyal even after a huge transition. Twitter helps your organization connect with its community every day. Be sure to tweet out links to important documents on your website related to the rebranding, such as a piece on the reasons for such a change, and let them know if there is a meeting or consultation they can attend.

Twitter also gives your community a chance to ask important questions and for your organization to instil trust in the community by answering those queries. Conduct a Twitter chat with your CEO, owner or executive director on the topic of rebranding. You can even create a hashtag, such as #InclineMktgRebrand, where your community can go to check on updates and ask questions. This will help your organization keep up with community feedback and will give your community a forum to learn and inquire.

Last, but certainly not least, make the rebranding fun on Twitter. For example, most rebranding efforts include a change in logo or signage. Have your Twitter followers submit ideas and vote on which one they like the best. This will give your community a voice in the rebranding and will keep your organization from alienating its loyal base.

During and After the Rebrand

Rebranding often means a change in name, which will mean a change in your Twitter account. Out with the old, in with the new! It is necessary, but if not done right, it will lead to a substantial loss in your followers and engagement and thus your organization’s ROI.

When the Twitter handle changes over to the new one, continue to tweet from the old account for a week or two (in addition to tweeting from the new one). During this time, frequently remind followers on your old account that the handle has changed. Continue to check interactions that the old account receives, especially mentions, and respond from both the new and old accounts. After a week or two, let followers of your old account know that you will be shutting down the old account. Continue notifying your community of this change and after three or four week, shut down the old account. This will cut down on confusion and complete the Twitter rebrand.

Twitter can be a powerful tool to help your community get used to a recent rebrand. Keep tweeting out information and details on the changes. Tweet links to the new website (if there is one) so they can get used to the new URL. Tweet about the changes and hold another Twitter chat to answer any questions. Make it fun again. Create a contest that offers followers a chance at a prize if they mention your new Twitter handle in a complimentary tweet. This will keep your community informed and engaged.

Don’t be overly concerned if your followers drop noticeably. This can actually be helpful in determining your Twitter account’s success and ROI. Many of the followers who don’t make the switch to your new Twitter account are not your target audience. This will allow you to assess how many key influencers you have and which demographics you should target moving forward.

Make sure to update all your information on Twitter, including the About section and your cover photo. Give your followers as much notice and as much information as possible before, during and after rebranding and Twitter will become a powerful tool in making the change a successful one.

Crowdsourcing For Non-profits And How Social Media Can Help

Last week we talked about Merriam Webster’s word of the year for 2014, which was culture. Culture is a great word, especially when we’re talking about associations and non-profits, but another term that pervaded our thinking in 2014 and into 2015 was crowdsourcing.

If you’re not familiar with the definition of crowdsourcing, it’s the process of obtaining information or input for a particular task or project by enlisting the services of a number of people. For example, crowdsourcing can be as simple as asking a wide audience (via Twitter) what to make for dinner and receiving numerous suggested recipes for an appetizer, entrée and dessert from various people. You put these suggestions all together and get a whole meal out of it. And voilà, you have successfully crowdsourced.

Following along with the dinner analogy, your association or non-profit can make a delicious meal for its membership/community through crowdsourcing. Crowdsourcing has definite advantages, from being cheap to giving your community a voice in decisions that directly affect them. Here are just some of the ways you can get your target audience involved, engaged and part of the process by crowdsourcing content from and for social media.

Publications

Your association communicates with its members through various tools like newsletters, email blasts, blogs and, last, but certainly not least, a trade magazine. These publications need content. Sourcing or writing this content can sometimes be a pain in the unmentionables and can take up valuable time and resources. Crowdsourcing can be the answer to these problems.

Create a page on your website where members can submit ideas for blog posts or magazine articles and can volunteer to write them. Tweet or post on Facebook asking for willing authors or simply asking which issues the membership thinks are going to be important in the next few months or year. Start an Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest hashtag where members can share photos or short insights that can be incorporated into a section of your blog, website, newsletter or magazine as a “Speaker’s Corner” type feature.

Events

It’s someone’s job to plan your organization’s event and they probably do a very good job at it, but a little input from members is never a bad thing. Knowing which speakers, topics and social events to plan for is often done through plenty of research. Crowdsourcing, via social media, allows your organization to use the knowledge of your attendees as part of that key step.

Create a hashtag on Twitter and an event page on Facebook relatively early in order to establish an audience on each platform. Ask questions about which topics would be most interesting or advantageous to attendees. Utilize Facebook’s polling tool that allows members to vote on the best topics for the event or the entertainment for a social night/fundraiser. Urge trade show participants, volunteers from previous events or recent donors to write in with small passages on why they are part of your organization’s mission and make it into a blog post or YouTube video.

Fundraising

Crowdsourcing has become a popular tool for entrepreneurs and innovative minds who need some seed money for their enterprises. Non-profits and associations can take these examples and apply them to their projects and initiatives using social media as a megaphone for their efforts.

Create a crowdfunding project where members or donors can give small amounts to support a new service (such as an app for members) or a community initiative (such as building a community garden). Offer small rewards for people who give to the cause, such as 10% off registration to the next conference or a bushel of tomatoes from the garden. Unfortunately, no one can give to the crowdfunding initiative if they are unaware of it. Use social media to share the project. Make a video or an infographic about its potential impacts. Create a hashtag for it and tweet numerous times on Twitter. Use Facebook to run a contest, perhaps making entering people into a draw for an additional prize if they share a status about the crowdfunding project.

3 Resolutions For Social Media Managers in 2015

New Year’s Eve has come and gone and it’s been a week since hundreds of thousands of people have started on their New Year’s Resolutions. Don’t worry, social media managers don’t need to feel left out of the party. Every day, week, month and year offers new challenges and opportunities for non-profit, association and small business marketers. If you’re having trouble coming up with some marketing goals for 2015, you’re in luck; we’ve taken the liberty of laying out three suggestions for you.

Try a New Platform

It’s more than likely that you’re comfortable and successful with one, two or even three platforms. Maybe you’ve taken your organization to new heights with Twitter or have blazed a trail for your business on Instagram. That’s great, but if you never try new things, you’ll never evolve and grow.

Experimenting with a new platform doesn’t need to be done haphazardly. Don’t just pick a social media channel randomly. Analyze your options and resources. Maybe your organization has some stories to tell and can use YouTube to accomplish this goal. However, be aware of your limitations. Videos are a great way to tell a story, but if you do not have the equipment, budget or time to create videos, maybe it’s best to tell your story in another way, such as a blog. Whatever new social media venture you decide to do, research, work hard and be patient with the results.

Analyze Some New Numbers

Your probably already know how valuable data is to the success of your organization’s social media strategy. You analyze the numbers regularly and make judgements about the effectiveness of your tweets, Facebook posts, pins, etc. Just as you’re comfortable with certain platforms, you’re most likely comfortable with parsing the same statistical categories every week, month or quarter. However, it’s time to mix it up.

Look at some different categories or analyze old categories in different ways. For example, look at which days of the week receive better responses for your Facebook posts over a number of weeks or months. Alternatively, you are probably keeping track of the Twitter followers your organization gains each week or month. Go one step further this year and calculate the number of key influencers that are among these new followers and analyze the cost-per-key-influencer. Just as with picking a new platform to experiment with, picking new numbers shouldn’t be done out of left field. Have a purpose for the stats you decide to look at more in-depth and use them to colour-in the picture instead of just doodling with them.

Get More People Involved

Although social media is all about interacting with others, managing an organization’s account can often be a solo pursuit. It shouldn’t be. Make it a goal this year to get your colleagues, volunteers or employees involved in your organization’s social media efforts. Getting a little more buy-in from the whole team will go a long way to a successful year.

We’re not suggesting that you get others to do your job for you. We understand that everyone has a role to play in the organization and business and sometimes resources don’t allow for very much participation outside of those roles. Instead, find small things that people can do on a weekly, monthly or even quarterly basis to help the social media strategy. For example, ask your volunteers to write a guest blog detailing their experience with the organization, create a video with your colleagues explaining why they believe in the work your association is doing or ask your staff to get three of their friends involved in your business’s online contest or promotion. These small things will definitely add up and help give your organization the boost it needs.

What Four Christmas Traditions Can Teach Organizations About Social Media

In case you needed a not-so-subtle reminder to do some last minute shopping or stock up on eggnog, Christmas is on the horizon. There are only three more sleeps until the big day when presents, food and family abound.

Everyone has their own Christmas traditions during the holiday season, many of them serving as a reminder about the importance of sharing, kindness and hope. However, these traditions can also teach you a lot about social media management.

Yes, leave it up to us here at Incline Marketing to link jolly old Saint Nick to Twitter, Facebook and all those other online platforms. Here’s a thing or two about how Christmas traditions can teach organizations about social media management:

Milk and Cookies For Santa

Leaving milk and cookies to sustain Santa Claus on his gift-giving journey is a fun and long-standing tradition for many families around the globe. Doing your own online version of milk and cookies can help give your association, non-profit or small business a boost.

In the social media world, cookies and milk are the content that sustains your audience. The truth is, people connect with you online because they find value in what you have to say. When they no longer find value in your content, they don’t stick around long. Make sure your content is equal parts exciting (cookies) and practical (milk). Offer a variety of content and see which posts are gobbled up quickly and which ones are left half-eaten. By taking stock of how your content is received, you can cater to the needs and interests of your audience in a more efficient, effective way while maximizing your return on investment.

Decorating the Tree

Decorating the tree is a valued holiday tradition for one key reason; it allows you to gather your family together and have fun working as a unit to achieve a goal. When you’re finished, you can stand there with your loved ones and admire the work you’ve done together.

The lesson that comes out of decorating the Christmas tree is that everything is better with company and that includes improving your organization. Social media gives you the opportunity to engage your audience, ask questions and use crowdsourcing to bolster programs and initiatives. Don’t turn down this chance to include your members, donors or customers. Ask members what educational topics they want covered at your association’s next conference. Have your customers vote on which product they want kept on the shelves. Give your donors a chance to tell their story on a blog, Facebook or a video. When all is said and done, your community will look back and feel like they are truly a part of your organization’s progress, which only strengthens your following.

Putting up the Lights

Installing Christmas lights on the outside of your house is an annual lesson in patience and creativity. The same can be said for designing and maintaining your social media accounts.

First impressions are critical on social media and when someone visits your organization’s profile, they’re going to notice and respond to what it looks like. There are a few crucial elements of designing and updating your social media accounts. Just like with Christmas lights, where one broken bulb effects the whole string, one neglected space on your profile will ruin the entire experience for potential connections. Make sure your photos are filled out, updated regularly and are sized right (which is often where patience comes into play). Ensure your About and Contact sections are clear, concise, accurate and free of spelling and grammatical errors. Pay attention to the details. Different platforms have specific elements that require attention. For example, make sure your blog posts are tagged with relevant words, your pinned tweet is updated and the profile pictures on your Pinterest boards are relevant.

Singing Carols

Getting into the Christmas spirit is often as easy as going door to door singing your favourite seasonal songs or starting a sing-along at family get-togethers. The most important thing about carolling is that everyone is on board with the activity. If one or two people are not into it or are off key, it can throw a wet towel over the whole thing. Getting total buy-in is also important with your organization’s social media efforts.

Your staff, colleagues, board of directors and volunteers all need to understand and contribute to the effectiveness of your social media strategy for it to be successful. Start by explaining how social media can help achieve your organization’s mission and goals. Use examples and numbers and relate it to everyone’s specific job or area of expertise. Keep great records and provide ROI analysis to prove the value of everyone’s efforts on the online platforms. Offer to give tutorials to those who want to get a hang of social media and give your colleagues a chance to contribute to your efforts in a meaningful way. This can be done by crowdsourcing content, asking them to write guest blogs or including them in videos, photo albums or other visuals.