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.

Four Types Of Culture Your Association Wants And How Social Media Can Help You Get Them

Merriam-Webster released its 2014 word of the year a couple weeks ago and it’s not what you’d expect. Instead of a buzzword, such as content marketing or slacktivism, the world-renowned organization chose an much more important word; culture.

According to the good people at Merriam-Webster, culture is a term to convey a kind of academic attention to systematic behaviour and allows us to identify and isolate an idea, issue, or group. In other words, culture is the definition of an entity, such as an association, based on the way they act and talk.

Culture is obviously an important term in today’s world and it is an idea that influences how your association operates. Culture dictates how your staff works, what your organization’s goals are and how members interact with the association. A great social media strategy can help your association enhance a culture that entices new members, draws the attention of present members and strengthens the organization in other areas.

Your association certainly has an ideal culture in mind. That philosophical notion is put into concrete terms through things like a mission statement, specific member benefits, the type of education sessions offered at conferences and how staff communicate with members. All these things combine to define what your association represents and what it’s known for.

Good association culture is not a new thing and social media alone doesn’t create a culture of success, but it can highlight it, underline it and put an exclamation at the end of it.

Here are a few examples of what culture your association would want perpetuate and how social media could help

A culture of knowledge

If you want your association to be the go-to resource for industry knowledge, social media can give you a helping hand. Your association’s goal might be to provide the most up-to-date research and relevant content to help members. Online platforms are a hugely effective way to spread information. You can reach hundreds or thousands of people with a link to your latest publication or a research report through Twitter. You can write a blog outlining how to deal with new legislation that affects members. You can post a how-to video on YouTube that helps guide members through difficult times, such as a natural disaster. By getting that information out in large amounts and making it accessible to all strengthens your association’s culture of knowledge.

A culture of customer service

If you want to maintain a culture where members, sponsors and industry professionals feel comfortable communicating with your organization and get great service, social media is a the perfect tool for you. Any online platform cultivates instant two-way communication. For example, Twitter allows a member to ask a question of an association or comment on one of its services and receive a timely, tailored response. Social media allows your organization to be accessible and transparent to its members, which is a great asset for when non-members or potential sponsors want to find out more about your organization, but aren’t ready to take the step of calling, emailing or walking into the office.

A culture of community

Every association wants to create and grow a culture of community and make the organization a place members think of when they want to connect with colleagues. Social media was built to create a tighter community for people with similar interests or career aspirations, which makes it perfect for associations looking to instil this culture. Your association can stimulate conversation between members and those in the industry through social media, as it gives people a platform to connect with people they may never otherwise talk to. Having an association LinkedIn page is a great example. By creating informative posts and putting forward conversation topics, your association can build a sense of belonging and inclusiveness for members.

A culture of excellence

If you want members to think of excellence and accolades when they hear the name of your association, social media may be one of your best friends. One of your association’s main goals is undoubtedly to help advance the careers of its members. One way to do this is through programs that promote striving for success, like awards or professional designations. Marketing these programs can get a huge boost from social media, as it creates a culture of recognition that others want to be part of. Recognizing members and accomplishments is done best when there is a large audience and social media is great in this regard. For example, you can highlight a member who just won an award through Twitter, a blog, a YouTube video, Instagram, Vine or Facebook. The more you get the word out, the more your association’s culture of excellence grows and flourishes.

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.

6 Ways Social Media Can Help You Promote Your Association’s Conference

There’s no two ways about it, conferences are a vital part of most associations. They generate a large chunk of the organization’s non-dues revenue and they provide attendees with a collection of services that make the association valuable and worth investing in, like education and networking.

The difficulty lies in signing people up to go to a conference. Annual association get-togethers usually cost a decent sum of money and often include traveling, which means time away from work and family. Therefore, it is essential to have the best product in order to entice people and make it worth their while. Promoting the excellence of your association’s conference can be done with the traditional means; direct mail, phone calls, magazine ads and the like. But it can also be done effectively and less expensive with social media. Here’s how:

Infographics

Infographics are a great way to take cold, hard numbers and turn them into engaging visual displays that highlight the value of attending your association’s conference. You can have all the statistics you want on comparative pricing, hours of education, number of trade show sales and other figures, but if no one is paying attention, it’s useless. Infographics draw the attention of potential attendees, extract the useful facts and figures from a range of numbers and illustrate the value of the conference in plain language. As a bonus, infographics can be shared on almost every online platform, from Twitter to a blog to your website.

Video Tour

A lot of potential attendees need to see it to believe it. What this means is that the conference is an abstract idea with little concrete value until they have visual evidence to make it a reality. Video tours can help make your conference a reality and assure members that your organization is doing things with quality on its mind. Making a YouTube video of the venue and the city where the conference will take place puts an image into the minds of potential attendees and encourages them to confront the possibility that going to the conference might just be a great experience. As a bonus, these video tours may help potential exhibitors and sponsors envision a role for them at the event.

Interview

Posting an audio, video or written interview on your social media platforms sends a message along the lines of, “Don’t just take our word for it, check out what attendees like you have to say about the conference.” Conducting an interview with an attendee of a previous conference provides potential attendees with the perspective of someone who in in their shoes and who they may trust a little more. Choosing to interview someone who is well-known in the industry will also provide more legitimacy to the strategy and will probably lend itself to being shared more online as this individual most likely has a larger than average network.

Pinning Conference/Travel Tips

We already touched on the potential benefits of infographics to your conference promotion strategy and pins have much the same effect, but in a slightly different way. Pins provide the visual representation of useful information to potential attendees, just like infographics, but because pins are often smaller, stand-alone pieces of information, it’s gives your association the ability to let attendees personalize the content they store. For example, you can pin family-focused travel tips for the city where the conference is being held. An attendee who might bring their family will find this valuable. You can also post various schedules of education sessions that might appeal to certain segments of your membership and potential attendees can pin the ones they find most useful.

Giving Attendees a Voice in Program Planning

Social media has the power to give potential attendees more say in some of the aspects of the conference programming. Posing questions on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter about session topics, round table discussion issues or even food choices gives your association a chance to start a discussion about the event, encourages engagement among members and boosts awareness of the conference’s quality and value. It also provides potential attendees with an emotional investment in the process and final outcome, which makes it more likely that they will make a financial/time commitment. As a bonus, this will help you create programming that fulfills the goals of the conference.

Social Media Contests

Social media contests create a win-win situation and everyone loves a win-win. Contests can help your association promote its conference in two main ways; by directly increasing registration and by increasing awareness of the event. For example, if you promote a contest through social media where every registrant is entered to win a free trip to the conference, it encourages people to sign up. Similarly, if you create a contest where every retweet, like, share, comment, re-pin, etc is rewarded with an entry for free registration, it manufactors a situation where the reach and effectiveness of your promotion is continually growing.

How Social Media Can Help Your Organization Prove Its Value

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

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

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

Words

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

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

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

Visuals

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

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

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

Videos

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

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

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

Revisiting ROI: Which Numbers Mean More in Measuring Twitter’s Impact

There’s a common phrase that gets thrown around when executives or department heads get together to determine an organization’s strategy for the coming weeks, months or years; if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. In layman’s terms, the phrase means that if something has been working just fine for this whole time, there’s no need to change it in any way.

The real question is; how do you know it’s broken or not?

This query can often be answered by evaluating the return on investment (ROI) of a certain activity, especially for associations, non-profit and small businesses for which every dollar counts and providing bang for buck is the name of the game.

As Twitter becomes an important and popular part of organizations’ marketing strategy, it’s essential to know if the platform is giving you a boost, serving as a drain on your resources or if it falls somewhere in between. Measuring Twitter’s ROI can be a tricky business, although most tradition and new media give those in the C-suite similar problems. The difficulty lies in the lack of perfectly correlating numbers. In other words, it’s near-impossible to say, if my association gains X amount of followers and Y amount of interactions, it will mean Z amount of revenue.

This obstacle means that calculating Twitter’s ROI requires looking through a variety of lenses. An organization’s experience on Twitter can be analyzed in two ways; through social ROI and financial ROI.

Social ROI

The goal of measuring social ROI is to calculate the amount of engagement and interaction achieved by the Twitter account. Social ROI can help determine the degree to which an association/non-profit/small business was successful in building relationships, encouraging discussion and generating awareness. Social ROI can be measured in part by examining key engagement numbers and key influencers.

Engaging with content on Twitter is a sign of value. When someone retweets, favourites, clicks on a link or mentions your organization and its content, it means that they receive value and want to connect with the source of that value, which is the organization.

It is essential that your organization measures key engagement numbers every week and month to gauge which content is generating the most interactions and thus providing the most value to followers. For example, measuring the number of clicks on links, mentions and total engagements per day are all great ways to get a big-picture view of social ROI.

Measuring the content’s effectiveness in creating these points of contact and comparing it to past weeks or months will help you determine how well your account is doing that building relationships and expanding awareness.

Another way to measure social ROI is through the charting of key influencers. Key influencers are followers who fall into your organization’s target demographics or have frequent and significant contact with the target demographic.

It’s great to know people are following you and spreading the word about your organization, but it’s more important to know if they are the right people spreading the right words. When you keep track of how many key influencers follow your organization, it allows you to calculate the effectiveness and value of the content you are sharing. And once you have proven your value to these key influencers, you can start building a relationship with them, both online and offline.

Financial ROI

Financial ROI is a little more difficult to measure on Twitter, as it is with most other social media platforms and even traditional marketing approaches. One of the most useful ways to calculate financial ROI is to assess the increase in the organization’s reach and engagement compared to the monetary investment that was used to generate this gain.

Financial ROI can be further broken down into three categories; cost-per-impression, cost-per-impression and cost-per-key-influencer. These numbers will help put the success of the Twitter account into perspective based on the goals of an organization on social media, which are to increase awareness, connect with members/the community and provide value to these followers.

The cost-per-impression metric offers a look at how successful an organization’s Twitter account has been at expanding its reach and spreading awareness of the organization’s brand and value. To calculate the cost-per-impression, divide the money spent on gaining impressions by the total number of impressions received. For example, if your organization receives 10,000 impressions in November and allocates $250 to Twitter management, the cost-per-impression is $0.025.

The cost-per-interaction metric expands on what we have learned from the cost-per-impression ratio and highlights how well the account has been at converting those impressions into more tangible conversations and expressions of value. To measure cost-per-interaction, divide the financial investment by the number of interactions in a given period. For example, if your organization generates 203 interactions and spends $300 on Twitter management, the cost-per-interaction is $1.48. This number highlights the value that social media has in achieving the goal of connecting with the community in an efficient, effective and low-cost way.

The final indicator of financial ROI is cost-per-key influencer, which helps us measure the effectiveness of your efforts to reach the right followers, make substantial connections and build relationships that will benefit your organization. To calculate the cost-per-key-influencer, divide the monetary investment you have given to Twitter management by the number of key influencers that are followers. For example, if you have spent $2400 and gained 130 key influencers over six months, the cost-per-key-influencer is $18.46. Making this connection could lead to large investments in your organization services or further promotion of its services. This means that the return has the potential to be much greater than the $18.46 invested.

 Using Social and Financial ROI Together

Both social and financial ROI allow for a conclusion on which content provides the best value, the progression of the Twitter through the months and which steps should be taken moving forward. Depending on how intense you want to get in determining which individual tweets performed the best, you can measure both ROIs for each post to decide how certain types of content are performing. Determining how well your account is doing and where it can improve will help boost your association, non-profit or small business and give your members/board/customers a reason to support your efforts.