The 5 Things Every Social Media Manager Should Do On A Daily Basis

Contrary to popular belief, social media management is not a black hole that devours all the minutes in a work week.

Don’t get us wrong, crafting the right content, engaging your audience, raising brand awareness and extracting return on investment from social media is not a quick endeavour. However, it doesn’t often require a full-scale blitz from Monday to Friday, especially if you’re running social media accounts for a small business or a small to medium-sized association. You don’t even need to post content every single day, depending on the platforms you utilize.

No, social media isn’t something you need to spend 40 hours a week on, but there are certain tasks that all social media managers should do every day to be successful. They aren’t time consuming or complicated, but they are necessary to achieve great results for your organization. Here are five social media duties you should make sure to check off your to-do list every day:

1. Write Down and Review Ideas for Future Content

Brainwaves are a great thing. When they hit you, it makes you feel like a genius and they help you get excited to create great content. There is a downside, however. Brainwaves usually fade after a while and then you’re stuck trying to remember your amazing idea without much success. This puts your firmly back at square-one without fresh content to publish on social media.

To protect against losing your awesome content ideas, create an “idea bank” where you can record your best thoughts. Visit the list at least once a day to add your new ideas and review the existing ones to see if any of them could be used on that day or in the near future.

Bonus: Make your “idea bank” accessible to your colleagues as well. Idea swapping in the workplace has the potential to not only make everyone’s job easier, but also help everyone stay up-to-date with your online efforts.

2. Reply to Notifications

You schedule may or may not call for daily posts on social media, but your audience has their own timetable. They can engage with your organization whenever they feel the urge. This instant access to your organization is on the best elements of social media, but it also keeps you on your toes. Notifications can range from a question about your organization to criticism to a friendly word about your services. Regardless of the intent, all notifications should be addressed on a daily basis at the very least.

When you get into the office in the morning, fire up your computer and check for any notifications on your social media accounts. Take the time to respond to them. Your members, customers, etc. will appreciate the timeliness of their response. If you answer their question about store hours or address their criticism about your association’s most recent event soon after they’ve asked/reached out, these individuals will feel valued and will get the information when it is most useful to them. This increases the odds that they will engage with your organization again and the chances they will invest their time or money in your organization. When you act quickly, your audience will see it and appreciate it.

Bonus: Audience engagement can give you great ideas for future content. Checking notifications on a daily basis ensures you don’t miss a great opportunity.

3. Read The News

One of the most basic goals of news is to help people make informed decisions. The best kind of decisions you and your organization can make are informed ones, ones that are based on the current environment your members/customers are living in. In other words, your organization doesn’t exist in a vacuum, so don’t act like it on social media. Reading the news every day can help you stay out of this we’re-in-a-vacuum mentality.

Stay up to date on the news that matters most to you. Make the effort to follow news-makers and news outlets that are most relevant to your activities as an organization. Take at least 10 minutes every day to browse their content. You may find a great article that will your association’s members or an interesting article that you know your customers will appreciate. The same goes with hashtags or groups that often act as a catch-basin for industry news; take 10 minutes to browse these sources too.

Staying up to date on the news will also help you coordinate your response to certain events. For example, if a new law is passed or a natural disaster happens that effects your members, you will be able to quickly respond to it on social media, making your organization a go-to source for reliable information and helpful support.

Bonus: You never know when your organization’s name could pop up in the news. When it’s in a positive light, you don’t want to miss an opportunity to highlight it. If it’s criticism, you don’t want to miss out on responding to it or acting on it to make your organization better.

4. Search For Your Organization Online

If you and your colleagues are doing your jobs well, there will be people talking about your organization. It might not be every day or even every week, but at some point, someone will mention your association or business on social media and you’re going to want to know about it.

Keeping track of notifications and reading the news are two great steps to finding what people are saying about your organization, but comments can sometimes fall through the cracks of these searches. In order to capture all the chatter, go a step further and search for your organization on social media. Doing this on a daily basis will ensure you don’t miss out on anything that’s being said about your organization, good or bad. It will give you an opportunity to address any problems or highlight any compliments. Be sure to search hashtags and groups in addition to using the general search function on each platform.

Bonus: If the individuals that are mentioning you aren’t tagging you in their posts, responding to them will make them aware of your presence on social media. You may even recruit a new follower and potential brand ambassador by simply searching your organization on social media.

5. Review Your Strategy and Results

Your daily social media efforts are all part of a larger scheme which likely includes an editorial calendar, a run down of past results and a list of benchmarks for the future. These are long-term considerations that don’t usually effect your daily activities on social media. However, keeping tabs on your plan will help you make critical decisions on those days when it’s absolutely needed and will help your efforts more successful.

When you get to the office in the morning, take a minute to check your editorial calendar and make sure the content you’re planning on publishing is still more relevant, engaging and timely than anything else that has come up. Making the necessary changes could boost your engagement and can even save you from an embarrassing gaffe.

Also make sure to check your recent results on social media and compare them with past results and desired benchmarks. If you make daily notes about your progress, it’s easier to recognize when you fall far behind your goals and are slipping well below your past results. When you can catch it quick, you can make adjustments to your strategy and get your accounts back on track without further damage to your ROI and your account’s long-term health and success.

Bonus: Keeping track of your results on a daily basis saves time when you’re preparing your weekly/monthly/quarterly report on your social media efforts. Instead of spending 10 hours on collecting and parsing the data, you can spend 15 minutes a day and have all the numbers waiting for you when report time rolls around.

Social Media Lessons Your Organization Can Use Offline Too

Social media is most likely a small (but obviously important) part of your operation. Your association or small business is also concerned with the other types of marketing, programs, services and general upkeep that takes up a day. This doesn’t mean social media should be moved to the back burner or taken off the stove entirely when doing other critical tasks.

There’s a lot to learn when mastering social media management for your organization, but there’s also a lot to learn from your efforts that can be applied to other areas of your business or non-profit. Applying some of the strategies you follow online can help you build creative solutions offline as well. Here are four ways your social media savvy can translate to your organization’s other duties.

Handling Criticism

Nothing takes the spring out of your step like a disgruntled member or an angry customer. It happens to everyone. It’s unavoidable. You can’t please everyone all the time and people are going to make you aware that they’re not happy when their expectations are not met.

One of the most pervasive fears about being on social media is the negativity that is inevitable from putting your organization out on any platform. What many people don’t know is that social media is the perfect place to deal with individuals who want to take your organization to task. It allows you access to the criticism in the first place, it gives you the opportunity to connect with the complainant one-on-one and also lets you show how you have followed through with creating change from someone’s bad experience.

The lessons you learn about handling criticism online can be applied to real life. Take the time to handle each complaint personally. Avoid sounding like a robot with a standard phrase that sweeps all negativity under the rug. Follow up with the person who had a bad experience and show them how you have addressed the issue. Lastly, if the criticism is out of bounds and disproportionately effects the your other members/customers, be respectful, but walk away from the fight before it becomes one.

Developing Loss Leaders

A large part of social media’s effectiveness is about driving traffic to your organization’s website. For example, tweeting a link to your association’s blog on its website or pinning content that leads to your businesses’s site allows individuals to connect with your organization through content they find valuable. This is what often makes social media a loss leader; it gets people in the “door” to explore other services your organization has to offer.

It may be a good idea to take a page from social media and develop other loss leaders in your organization. For example, offer your association’s new members a chance to come to its annual conference for free. This gives new members, many of them new and with small budgets, a chance to see how your association can benefit them and help them develop their careers. You may lose money on their attendance, but it may lead them to invest in your association long-term while spreading your organization’s benefits far and wide through word of mouth.

Community Involvement

Social media is all about connecting with communities and building your own. That’s why Twitter chats are so popular and Facebook groups reach into the hundreds of thousands. Integrating your organization into these online communities broadens your audience and provides value to your target demographic, giving them more incentive to invest in your association or small business with their hard-earned money.

Creating a strategy to be involved in your community outside of social media is also important. As a small business, don’t be afraid to invite other local shops and business owners to collaborate on an event. The saying, “United we stand, divided we fall,” is never far off the mark.

Similarly, encourage your association to get involved with local association’s that serve the same industry as yours, especially if you’re association is a national one. Plan events on a local level, tailor your advocacy plans for specific regions and strategize ways in which your board of directors can work within their community to spread the word about the work your association is doing.

Data Analysis

Any social media manager worth their salt will tell you that analyzing the data is crucial to determining the success of their efforts and making the necessary improvements to increase the benefits. You need to keep a handle of what the numbers mean and how they tie together to effect the big picture.

The same philosophy goes for your offline efforts. It’s important to know how your members or customers are using and reacting to certain programs, initiatives, services and products. For example, conducting a well thought out survey after your association’s annual conference will allow your organization to target the areas of the event that worked well and those that need to be tweaked or scrapped altogether.

Working With Twitter Analytics, Or, How I Stopped Worrying And Learned To Love The Data

Welcome to the wonderful world of Twitter Analytics! It’s a place where fancy stats fill seemingly endless rows and columns of Excel Spreadsheets and funny terms like “Detail Expands” run rampant. It’s truly an astounding place.

Okay, enough of the mythical-world lingo and hyperbole. Twitter Analytics is a great resource for small businesses, associations and other organizations that want to figure out how Twitter is helping them. The platform gives anybody with a Twitter account access to reams of data. We’re here to help you sort out what’s what and how the numbers can be translated into an action plan for your marketing strategy.

First Thing’s First

Before you go charging into the forest of numbers with reckless abandon, you need to know one important thing; you need to know your goals.

Knowing what you and your organization want to achieve with Twitter is critical to parsing the data and making meaningful connections.

For example, if your association wants to drive traffic to its website because that’s where people are most likely to sign up as members, it’s probably more advantageous to focus on the flow of Twitter users to your links and profile page. If you run a food truck and want as many people as possible to know where you are, you will most likely want to know how many people are seeing your tweets.

Knowing your goals will help turn a mish mash of numbers into something you can actually use to make the most out of your Twitter efforts.

The Basics

Retweets, Favourites, Replies and URL Clicks

These four categories make up your most basic engagement stats on Twitter. These elements are the most in-your-face form of interaction as you can see and keep track of them even without Twitter Analytics using your Twitter account or simple programs like Bit.ly.

The numbers tied to these interactions can tell you a few things about how your efforts are paying off. The more Twitter users that interact with your content using these forms of engagement, the more value they are getting from your organization. When someone retweets your link or favourites a tweet, it means they found value in it. These interactions also help your content get shared, specifically retweets and mentions. If you see a growing number of these interactions from your Twitter account, it means your organization is interacting with more people, its reaching more people and its increasing in value.

Another stat you can gather from these numbers is the cost-per-interaction. Add up the number of retweets, favourites, replies and URL clicks and divide it by the amount of money spent on gaining these interactions. The result is the amount of money your spent to get one interaction. When this number decreases, the return on investment increases.

The Next Level

Impressions

Impressions are the number of Twitter users who have seen your tweet. These are the people who have laid eyes on your content, but haven’t necessarily interacted with it in any way. This doesn’t mean they aren’t paying attention to what it says; it could mean they just scanned it quickly or it could mean they saw a tweets about a sale you’re having and made a mental note to go check it out after work.

The real value of tracking impressions is to know how large your reach is on Twitter. If you’re using Twitter to get people involved in your cause or to buy your product, you want a lot of people to see your marketing and you want to see a steady climb in the number of impressions you receive. If you’re only focused on reaching a specific set of people, impressions are not as important if you’ve achieved your reach.

Calculating your cost-per-impression can tell you how much bang for your buck you’re getting. It follows the same formula as cost-per-interaction (total divided by cost). This will tell you if it’s costing you less to reach a larger audience than it did a month ago and will help you determine whether to tweak your Twitter strategy.

Average Engagement Rate

Your Twitter account’s average engagement rate is the result of dividing the number of engagement by the number of impressions you received. This will give you a more in-depth look at how effective your efforts are in attracting involvement and adding value to people’s day.

A few things to note: On a Twitter Analytics spreadsheet, engagement rate is posted as a decimal, such as 0.0211345. This can actually be seen as a percentage. In this example, the engagement rate can be rounded to 2.1%. This means that out of the number of people who say your tweet, 2.1% of them engaged with it. Engagement is defined by Twitter Analytics as a variety of elements which include retweets, favourites, replies, URL clicks, hashtag clicks, profile views, detail expands and follows.

The great thing about finding your average engagement rate or even the engagement rate for individual tweets, is that it can tell you how many people are actually acting when see your content. One of the biggest questions is about finding social media return on investment is, how do we know the people who are seeing out stuff are actually investing in it? Engagement rate helps you determine if people are taking the next steps in investing time and money in your organization. First they see it (impressions) and then they are exploring it (engagement rate). The more time they spend exploring your content, the more chance there is that they spend money on your organization.

The View From The Top

Hashtag Clicks

If you use Twitter, you know all about hashtags. Twitter Analytics allows you to track a small, but powerful, part of how your hashtags are working to help your organization.

Twitter Analytics tells you how many people clicked on a hashtag that you tweeted out. This can be especially helpful to organization that create their own hashtags for events or initiatives. For example, if you are an association that has created a hashtag for its annual conference, you can track how many times your hashtag was clicked on from your Twitter account before, during and after the event. If you are a small business that has started a hashtag that encourages people to share stories about their experience with your product, you can track your account’s success in promoting this hashtag using Twitter Analytics.

The value of knowing the number of hashtag clicks is knowing if your special events marketingon Twitter is being effective. It allows you to see if you need to improve your efforts to build an online advocacy program for your association or you should try something different the next time your small clothing store has a sale.

User Profile Clicks

User profile clicks calculate the number of times Twitter users clicked on your main profile from a specific tweet. Finding the total user profile clicks allows you to see whether your tweets are making Twitter users interested in your organization as a whole.

The value of determining user profile clicks is much the same as engagement rate. When people go to your profile, they can find out much more information about your organization. They can see your cover photo, which gives them a taste of what your all about. They can see a description of your services, your tweet history and, most importantly, can follow the link to your website. The possibilities for that person to discover more about your organization and invest in it are endless.

Tracking user profile clicks gives you a view on which tweets are encouraging people to take the next step and explore your organization further. This can be especially advantageous for organizations who are looking for new customers or that want to attract people to their website. For example, if you are a small business with an online Etsy store, a tweet that takes someone to your profile may mean they click on the link to your Etsy shop and from there, it may mean a sale.

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.