Three More Ways To Use Pinterest As An Association

While the Pinterest boom has quieted down from its peak a year or two ago, the social media platform remains a hugely popular place to get information, garner ideas and drive traffic. However, Pinterest can also be an enigma wrapped in a riddle for associations trying to take advantage of its popularity. We’ve gone through some ways organizations can use Pinterest in the past, but here are a few ways your association can solve the puzzle and capture even more member engagement.

A Pinterest Marketplace

This Pinterest board idea is like an Oprah give away because your association gets to say something along the lines of, “Your get a benefit, and you get a benefit, everyone gets a benefit!”

Let us explain. Associations generally provide their members and service providers/sponsors with a few connection points throughout a typical year. This can come in the form of a printed source guide, a trade show or a business member meet and greet. But what if your organization could provide a year-round marketplace where members and the people who provided services to your members could connect? This is what a Pinterest Marketplace could do. Each pin would highlight a different business member of your association, give a short bio and a click would send people to their websites. Space on the board would be restricted to members only. Sponsors can even get prime position at the top of the board.

This board would provide business members with more incentive to join the association as they get prime, year-round access to leads and clients while getting more traffic to their websites. It also gives members easy access to services they need and can be a potential revenue stream for your association.

A Pinterest Magazine Stand

Spreading content across multiple platforms in the only way to go in today’s world, which is my the print-only trade publication is quickly going the way of the dinosaurs. Why not add one more way to market your association’s magazine and all the great elements contained within with Pinterest.

Create a Pinterest board on which your association’s magazine articles are represented as individual pins. The headlines can serve as captions and a click would send people to the article they want. It would also be a good idea to think long and hard about the image associated with each article/pin. If there is a strong image attached to the article and its content, that’s great. If not, consider creating a stronger image that will make your members want to click on it. Numbers, lists and people your members know are much more powerful than a bland stock image.

There are multiple advantages of putting your magazine on Pinterest. The most obvious is that your members will have one more place to access the information, education and value provided by the association. It will also make it easier for them to access past versions of the magazine as they won’t need to go looking through multiple issues in person or online. Lastly, it will strengthen your pitch to potential advertisers as it is one more way to drive traffic to their ads.

A Pinterest Board Featuring New Technology

When Apple is coming out with a new version of the iPhone every quarter, it’s obvious that we live in a society obsessed with the latest and greatest technology. Appeal to this need/want with a tech-focused Pinterest board.

This Pinterest board would require you to keep in the loop about the newest technology that your association’s members might want or use to make their lives and careers better. Is there a new app available that will help them save money? Pin it. Is there a new social platform that can help them in their marketing or communications efforts? Pin it. Is there wearable tech that can make their work/life balance more equal? Get it up on the board! You can pin articles or even links to where members can buy technology or go a step further and write a weekly or monthly tech update blog post that can be pinned as well.

Again, this tech-focused board offers members and your association many benefits. It lets members know that you are on the cutting edge of the industry and able to share information that can members in the here and now as well as in the long-term. Like we alluded to before, people are crazy about keeping up with tech developments, so don’t be surprised if this is your most popular Pinterest board. The good news is, this traffic is more likely to filter out across your other board, strengthening and multiplying the returns in other areas.

4 Ideas For Promoting Your Association’s Conference On YouTube

Your association’s conference is a big deal. YouTube is an often under-appreciated social marketing tool for organizations. When you combine these two, they create a promotional machine that is greater than the sum of it parts. Here are just a few ways your association can use YouTube to draw more attendees and increase engagement prior to your conference.

Highlight Your Event’s Hidden Gems

Hidden gems; every conference has them. These are the smaller programs, initiatives, offerings or elements of an event that associations add to the schedule in droves, but never quite get the same play in promotional material as the bigger features. It may be a job board beside the registration desk or a special networking lounge or free books or any other under appreciated feature.

Create a video explaining these smaller perks that attendees can expect to get at the conference. Videos are more engaging than blocks of text on your conference or association website as they give attendees a visual look at what you are trying to promote. Grouping all these hidden gems together into one presentation will help elevate the event from just an ordinary “meat and potatoes” conference to a high-calibre, world-class opportunity that people will not want to miss. It highlights added value and helps attendees extract maximum return on investment.

Interview A Past Attendee

You can tell your audience your association’s conference is great until you’re blue in the face, but some people will just end up seeing you as a sort of used car salesman; only interested in separating them from their money. Hearing about the benefits of a conference from someone your members trust and can relate to is much more effective in drawing their attention and boosting attendance.

Creating this of video requires you to find a certain type of member/attendee. They have to be relatable, respected among their colleagues, been attending the event for several years and want to be vocal about their beneficial experience with the conference. Once you have found this ambassador, create a video based on an interview you had with them about their experience with the conference. Ask them about the benefits, the practicality of the programming, the networking advantages and so on. Hearing it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, will convince some skeptical members to give the conference a try.

Create A Video Scavenger Hunt

Every likes a good game and that is why gamification has become such a gigantic part of events and online marketing. A scavenger hunt is one way to leverage people’s love of mystery, reward and challenge to get them excited about your conference. One of the best parts about a scavenger hunt is that the clues can come slowly and over time, keeping the conference on your audience’s mind over a long period.

This is one idea that you can be very creative with, but one way a conference-focused video scavenger hunt could be created is to unveil new clues once a week for 3-6 weeks leading to the conference. The totality of the clues could lead to attendees finding a specific object or person at the conference, which would give them a chance to win a prize, maybe even free attendance at next year’s event. Not only does this capitalize on almost everyone’s love of games, but it establishes a series of frequent connections between your audience, your association and the conference, which increases engagement, visibility and a buzz that others will want to be part of.

Make A Trailer For Your Conference

Movie trailers are watched millions of time on YouTube, discussed, analyzed and create an overload of anticipation. Now think about what all that could mean for your conference; to have people talking about it, interacting with it and anticipating it before it happened. A trailer for your conference will tell your members what the event is all about in a fun, engaging way while highlighting key elements that will make people for likely to attend.

Creating a trailer for your conference would involve following the tried and true formula for the traditional movie trailer. It would include offering a plot, giving a glimpse of the people involved would leave a bit of mystery and anticipation with you at the end. Include speakers, attendees and staff in the video. If people see someone they know or recognize a speaker for their expertise, they will get excited about the prospect of hearing them speak. Talk about the programming and what attendees can expect, but leave a small cliffhanger in the video. All this adds up to a novel experience for your audience that they will want to be part of.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Four Ways To Think Like Your Audience To Create Better Headlines and Titles

In today’s marketing environment, a handful of words can make or break your online communications strategy. We’ve officially entered into the era of clickbait and always judging a blog post by its cover. This means titles and headlines are one of, if not the most important part of constructing an effective piece of content to centre your efforts around.

Is the title too wordy? It will never fit in a 140-word tweet. Is it too bland and matter-of-fact? No one will click on it and land on our website. It’s not a list? How will anyone know if they have time to read it all?

These factors might seem downright silly, but they are based on very real thoughts that people have. In a world saturated with content, deciding which to look at and which to disregard means taking everything into account. Marketers need to understand what their audience is looking for and how to entice them to click on that blog post or follow a link to their video on YouTube. We’ve put together a few tips to get you started on the road to understanding your audience and developing better starters for your content.

If They Have A Problem, Offer A Solution

You need to know what will make your audience’s life better. They will prioritize content that adds value to their life over other mildly interesting information or purely fun pursuits. Once you know what problem they want solved, create content around that issue and tell them in the title, headline, tweet, etc., that this problem will be solved by your post.

For example, if you are creating content for an association, find out a problem your members are having and write a blog post about it or even find a third-party article and tweet about it. Create a headline or tweet that captures both the problem and the promise of a solution all in one. Your audience will recognize the opportunity to get some advice on an obstacle they have been facing and will be more willing to click on the link to your website, comment or share the post.

Time Is Money So Tell Them How Much They’re Spending

An audience, any audience, appreciates full disclosure and that includes telling them how long your content is going to take to read, watch, etc. If they know your video is short and sweet, they can watch it while they take a 10-minute break or at their lunch. If your blog post is 2,000 words and an in-depth profile of one of their colleagues in the industry, they might decide to bookmark it and read it after work. However, if they are unsure about the time it takes to consume the content, they might leave your website feeling jipped or give up after a few minutes and never return.

This dilemma can be solved with a few tweaks to your titles, headlines, posts, etc. First of all, lists are a great way tell people how long your content is. For example, if your title says, “5 Ways to Get Better At Your Job,” they may have time to read it here and now, but if it says “35 Ways to Get Better…” they might leave it until tonight. You can go a step further and do what some sites like Mashable are doing and add an approximate read time on the title. This will tell your audience exactly how long it will take them to read your blog post, article, etc. so they don’t waste time. They will appreciate this small service immensely.

Give Them A Challenge

I dare you; the three words that made any activity irresistible when you were a kid. In reality, this mindset doesn’t go away as you grow up. Everyone enjoys testing themselves, even if it’s a challenge that’s a little more cerebral than stuffing as many marshmallows in your mouth as you can. If the content you are creating warrants it, present the information as a challenge to your audience.

Injecting a little fun dare into your headline, title or post involves knowing what your audience will see as an invitation to test their know-how, wit or skills. For example, if you are creating an infographic about crazy facts and stories for fans of a particular pastime or sport, go ahead and create a title such as, “Check Out How Many Of These Crazy Hopscotch Facts You Know And See If You’re A True Fan.” This is a challenge for your audience to prove to themselves that they know everything there is about hopscotch and prove themselves worthy of calling themselves a fan. Sometimes a challenge is irresistible and this will lead to more clicks, views and engagement.

Speak Their Language

Each group of people, while it’s based on geography, age, occupation or other factors, has its own way of talking. Using the words and phrases in your content’s title that your target audience can relate to and uses in every day life is an important part of drawing their attention and keeping it. When they see language they use and understand, they feel more comfortable and confident that the content they are clicking on, reading, watching or participating in is legitimate and important to them.

To understand what language to use to draw your audience in, it’s important to mirror the words they use and the language that other popular communication outlets use in your industry or area of interest. Check to see what buzzwords are being used among your target audience in Twitter chats, Facebook statuses or the comment sections or articles or YouTube videos. Read professional trade magazines or popular websites that cater your target demographics. Lastly, review your past content and see which posts generated the most engagement. Use the language from these posts’ headlines and titles and create similarly effective content in the future.

What To Do About Social Media When Your Association Starts A Joint Initiative

Associations are in the business of building relationships. Most of the time, these relationships are with members. However, there are plenty of situations in which associations partner with other organizations, be they sponsors, for-profit enterprises or other associations, to take on a project. After all, two (or three or four) heads are better than one.

There is no shortage of logistics to coordinate when two or more organizations get together, but a large part of making any successful initiative is communication, of which social media is a segment. Knowing how to manage the message on any online platform can take a so-so project and make it smashing success. Joint initiatives make it a little trickier as there is more than one voice in the mix. Here are a few tips to help your association smooth out and wrinkles in your social media communications during a collaboration.

Before

The planning process is important for any joint initiative and there is sure to be ample opportunity to discuss a communications strategy with your partners, including how you are going to coordinate social media efforts. Come to meetings prepared to talk about several elements of social media marketing so your association and the other parties are on the same page. The following are some questions to keep in mind as you go through the planning process:

  • What platforms do you and your partners plan to use to communicate with stakeholders?
  • Will you use separate, existing accounts or create new ones specifically for the joint project?
  • What form will the content about the joint effort take on the account(s)? Will you need videos, pictures, stories, links, etc? Will it be serious or more light-hearted?
  • How will you track and measure the success of the social media efforts and their impact on the project?
  • How often and how long should the content be rolling out on social media? Once a day for a month? Once a week for a year? Somewhere in between?
  • ¬†What resources (labour, money, infrastructure, etc) will all parties contribute to the effort?
  • What information is off-limits and what content can be shared?

During

After the planning comes the execution of the strategy. Many of the elements that go into a successful social media campaign for a joint project are the same as a regular online marketing strategy; make sure you are posting consistently, the posts are engaging, measuring the results is a priority and responses to questions or feedback is addressed in an appropriate and timely manner. However, there are a few differences you need to be mindful of when coordinating with other organizations:

  • Mention your partners whenever it is appropriate to do so. Remember, it’s a partnership, so keep their name on display and they will do likewise.
  • Don’t change the voice/style of your social media accounts too much to conform to your partners’ styles. Your audience likes your style for a reason.
  • Share information with your partners, including any significant interactions you receive and the numbers behind certain posts and the overall effort.
  • If you are not sure about information, the appropriateness of a post or anything else, contact your partners first to have a discussion. Better safe than sorry.
  • Keep up to date with what your partners are doing. If a certain method they are using is successful or there is an opportunity to collaborate or improve the message, it’s a necessity that you take it.
  • Stick to the plan you agreed on during the planning process. Don’t go too far off-script and if you do, consult with your partners about your ideas and motives.

After

There is still work to be done when the collaboration between your association and other organizations comes to an end. Just because a campaign, contest, sponsorship, event or other project finishes doesn’t mean there isn’t some legwork to be done. The formal conclusion of the partnership can often dictate whether or not organizations want to ally themselves with you in the future, which makes this step just as crucial as the planning and execution stages. Here are some tips for giving the joint initiative a fairytale ending:

  • Thank your partners on social media. Mention them in a tweet, Facebook post or short video or tell your story in a blog post or longer video. A little recognition goes a long way.
  • Do a full-scale analysis of the numbers and social media’s impact on the initiative. Send the numbers to your partner organizations and ask them for their numbers and analysis.
  • If you created a new social media account for the joint project, make sure to either dismantle it or develop a sustainability plan to keep it successful in its continued existence.
  • Give your social media audience a recap of the project and its successes, including an last details, which individuals to thank, the outcomes and the next steps.
  • Continue to monitor the social media accounts of your partners to generate content ideas, develop your audience acquisition strategy and cement the relationship between your association and helpful allies.

How Associations Can Measure The Impact Of Social Media Marketing On Their Events

One of the biggest reasons associations use social media is for event promotion. It’s not hard to see why. Events are a big deal for member organizations. They make up a large portion of revenue and are one of the sole touch-points an association has with a large group of members over the course of a year. It certainly makes sense for organizations to throw a big part of their communications, including social media, behind such an element.
With this in mind, it’s important for associations to know which type of communication is working best and how to build a strategy around promoting events to maximize the resources available to them. This means that the results of an event marketing strategy on social media must be measurable in some way. The question of how to measure the impact of Twitter, Facebook, a blog, etc on conference registration and participation is crucial for the success and sustainability of associations, which is why we’ve tackled the subject in the paragraphs below.
Go With The Flow
If you are attempting to measure the impact of your association’s social media efforts on event promotion, the best place to start is by tracking the flow of online traffic. Raising awareness of your event among your target audience through social media is one thing, but converting these people from informed members to event attendees is the tangible outcome you are ultimately striving for. In order to know if this conversion is happening, you must figure out if the content you are posting online is driving traffic to sites where conference registration is taking place. One you discover how effective this path is from social media content to registration, you can start to formulate conclusions as to the success of the online communications strategy.
Tracking the flow of traffic can generally be done using Google Analytics. Accessing Google Analytics can be done yourself or by contacting your association’s website provider/management team. This tool tracks how website visitors entered the site and how they navigated around the site. Using this information, you can discover how many people came to your event’s registration page through Twitter, Facebook or blog links. More traffic to the registration page means a higher conversion rate for your social media and a higher return on investment.
Stick To Your Guns
Tracking the flow of web traffic is the primary way to tell if your social media efforts are having an impact on the success of an event, but there are a few ways to take the data your are already collecting from your online accounts and parse them to draw a better picture of your results. These pieces of data are generally used to analyze how your event is doing (or did) with engaging attendees and encouraging participation. Knowing your social media’s level of success with this task is crucial to determining if your event achieved enough buy-in to be sustainable in the long-term.
There are several specific pieces of data you can examine to discover the impact of social media on the engagement and participation of event attendees, many you may already be tracking as part of a regular reporting regimen. If your event has a hashtag, measure the number of times it was used, clicked on and what was said with the hastag. You can also track how many times your association’s posts with event-relevant content were favourited, shared or commented on. Lastly, tracking the number of target audience members (such as members or potential members) that become followers of your social media accounts in the days during and immediately after the event can help you determine if the event will have any long-term impact on the way people perceive the value they are extracting from the association.

Here’s How We Think Associations Are Going To Use Social Media In 2016

We counted down our top 10 posts of 2015 last week, so it’s only fitting that this week we look to the future and make some predictions about what the major trends in social media are going to be for associations in 2016. So sit back and relax while we try to push you ahead of the curve.

Social Will Be A Bigger Part Of Events

Events are becoming a larger portion of revenue for many associations as due structures change and the role of organizations evolve. However, members and people in just about every industry are craving something more than the regular, old annual convention. They want new formats, engaging sessions and increased value in every area of conferences. There is a definite demand for something fresh and social media is the most likely tool to supply attendees.

More associations will put a greater emphasis on their social media strategy when planning events in 2016. Not only will they up their efforts in tweeting, posting to Facebook and creating other online content, they will come up with new ways to utilize the quick, accessible and inexpensive platforms. Social media walls, gamification, contests and sessions conducted over social media (Twitter chats, periscope-streamed conferences, etc) will all be part of this revolution. Lastly, associations will pay more attention to measuring the effect of social media on registration and attendance at events in 2016. Not only will this include tracking the traffic to conference websites and the conversions that follow, but it will also constitute a huge shift in the way associations pitch the value of sponsorship to prospective supporters.

Video Will Continue To Gain Momentum

Whether it was the addition of longer video to Twitter or video-streaming platform like Periscope and Meerkat bursting onto the scene, 2015 saw a boost in video’s potential on social media. In 2016, this potential will be fully recognized. Video can now be done cheap, easy and is very inviting to not just the younger generation, but every demographic. Video will become more popular with associations, especially as they attempt to be more engaging and become more accessible and open with their content.

Videos will become the new blog for associations in the next 12 months. Instead of, or supplemental to, blogs, organizations will create videos that address the issues that matter most to members and use this content to promote their value. Associations will utilize YouTube channels much more to discuss new legislation, best practices, how to maximize membership, quarterly updates and other subjects with members. Twitter, Instagram and Facebook will all have use for associations as platforms to share smaller videos with the aim of driving traffic to the organizations’ websites. Periscope and Meerkat will also be integral parts of conferences, webinars, chats, and smaller educational and networking events as associations reconcile increased openness with the long-term benefits of growing their exposure.

Promoted/Sponsored Content Will Become Big

Promoted and sponsored content on social media is nothing new to most marketers and companies. The act of paying to increase the reach of their message or getting paid to post about content created by a third-party is one of the new norms in the business world. Not only do promoted posts get your organization front and centre in a day and age where algorithms are making it more difficult to get noticed on social media otherwise, but sponsored content provides a boost in revenue that makes paying for ads possible.

Associations will finally jump on the promoted/sponsored content bandwagon in 2016. Paid social media campaigns are easily out together and are scalable to the amount of money organizations want to spend, making it perfect for associations who have small budgets but want to dip their toe in the water of maximizing their marketing dollars. Sponsored content is the next no-brainer for associations. They are already relying on sponsors for event money and magazine and website ads; it makes complete sense to give companies a platform to create content and pay to have that content, such as a blog post or video, posted to the association’s communications outlets. Although organizations have to be very careful about how much they do this, it can offer sponsors added value and bring in much needed non-dues revenue for the association.