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.

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.

The Dos and Don’t of Scheduling Social Media Content for the Holidays

The holiday season looms and so too does the annual, end-of-year office shut-down. As the year draws to a close, you’re likely taking a few days off, whether it’s an organization-wide policy or a choice to spend a few days off to be with family and friends.

This rest and relaxation doesn’t usually come without a flurry of activity right around now, especially for marketers and communication personnel. You take time off from work, but your audience rarely takes a day off from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and so on. This means that you will most likely be scheduling posts to go out on social media ahead of time. If this is your first go-around or even your tenth, here are a few tips to keep in mind when scheduling social media posts during the holidays.

Do use Hootsuite 

Hootsuite is the go-to platform for managing all your social media accounts in one place. It lets you schedule dozens of posts ahead of time on Twitter, Facebook, your blog and Instagram. It’s easy to use and allows you to set specific dates and times of scheduled posts, suggests the best times to post based on your audience’s patterns of use and gives you the option of attaching images and tracking the success of your posts.

Don’t Hawk Your Products or Services

It’s the holiday season so relax a little bit. Your audience has just come off more than a month of intense marketing from all corners of their life leading up to Christmas and is probably looking forward to enjoying some lighter content on social media. It’s not wise to manipulate the message of the holidays in order to draw attention to a money-making opportunity for your organization. Read the room and save the subtle sales posts until after the season.

Do Be Festive and Fun

This is the flip-side to the previous point; everyone is having some fun and taking a day or two to get work out of their mind so you might as well join in. It can be as simple as wishing your audience a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. Schedule this message to go out with a cute picture or fun video greeting from your staff. Add some seasonal hashtags to the mix and keep it short and sweet. No one wants to spend all day on their phones during the holidays!

Don’t Talk About the Weather or Anything Subject to Change

It’s very tempting to schedule a post talking about a white Christmas or snow or cold temperatures, but try to hold yourself back. As we all know, the weather is temperamental so making any claims, as whimsical, fun or clever as they might be, will just look downright silly if the climate changes on you down the road. This goes for any element or even that could change. Stick to safe topics and put a creative spin on them if you want to go outside the box.

Do Check Back in Every so Often

We know, we know, it’s the holidays and you don’t want to think about work, which is why you’re scheduling posts in the first place. The reality is, being a social media manager is a 24/7 job. The Twitter account or Facebook page is often the only line of communication a member, client or customer has with your organization during the holidays. Check in with your accounts every so often, even if it’s once a day, to answer any questions and respond to interactions. This small effort will make your scheduling binge worth every bit of extra work.

Don’t Forget to Tell Them Where You Are

Your don’t need to tell your audience that the entire office is leaving to work on their tan in the Caribbean, but it’s always a good idea to let them know your holiday office hours. Schedule regular posts telling your audience when you will be closed, when their will be reduced hours, when you’ll open up again and how to contact someone in an emergency. People will appreciate having this knowledge as it will save them time and plenty of inconvenience.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?: Analyzing a Benchmarking Report About Associations and Social Media

A new report detailing how associations use social media was released last week by Marketing General Inc. and the information was beautifully transformed into an infographic by MemberClicks.

The report gives all kinds of great numbers and is a useful source for associations that are wondering how their online communications game matches up with other member organizations.

There are a few conclusions from the report that strike us as, well, interesting. We took a long, hard look at the report’s findings and went a step further, making some discoveries of our own. Here they are, along with some helpful tips and advice for association marketers looking to fine-tune their social media strategy.

Blogs Are Being Under-Utilized

The reports gives a run-down of the social media platforms that are most frequently-used by associations and it’s no surprise that Facebook and Twitter rank as the two most popular sites. Facebook is used by 91% of respondents while Twitter is used by 87%.

However, it was a surprise to find that only 24% of associations maintain a blog. Yes, the Golden Age of blogs ended a while back, but blogging can still be a massively effective way to accomplish the goals associations usually set for themselves on social media. For example, the report also concluded that social media is most often used for event promotion, organizational awareness and association news. Blogs are an amazing way to do all three!

We could write a dozen blog posts about the value of blogging for associations, but we’ll try to condense our blogging love into one last paragraph. Blogging can come in so many different forms, from infographics, to transcribed interviews with members and just a straightforward editorial-type explainer. They can be used to recognize members, highlight certain aspects of your association or its initiatives/events and keep members knowledgeable about the latest developments in their industry. However, the biggest benefit of blogs for associations might just be their ability to drive traffic to the association’s website by sharing the posts on other social media platforms.

Likes, Followers, Fans, Etc Are Over-Glamorized

One of the most interesting pieces of data from the benchmarking report was that a whopping 79% of associations measure social media impact by number of followers, likes, fans, etc. that their accounts accrue.

This is, quite frankly, an unbelievable number and a troubling trend that will only serve to limit the effectiveness of social media for associations. Yes, followers, page likes, etc. are important, but they only skim the surface. Measuring the impact of social media efforts on this metric alone would be like a doctor looking at a patient’s outward appearance for five seconds before declaring them absolutely healthy, only to realize later that the patient has some terrible disease only visible upon further examination. Associations need to look for at least a dozen other metrics before they can get a sense of how well their social media channels are doing and what can be done to improve them.

Again, we can write thousands of words on which of the dozens of metrics are better than analyzing likes, followers, etc. but we’ll list only a few. Demographics are key. You might have 3,000 followers, but if only 100 of them are part of your target audience, then the large following is just a mirage and your message has much less impact. Reach/impressions are also crucial. Again, you may have 3,000 likes, but if no one is looking at your messages, you aren’t really that popular after all. Finally, engagement is a key stat. You don’t just want your members to give an obligatory ‘like’, you want them to share the status update, comment on the post you created and click on the link to your website.

Too Few Associations Are Effectively Posting On Facebook

Most associations are not really using Facebook effectively. Out of the associations that use Facebook, 35% post once a day and 33% post once a week. It is evident that associations have a Goldilocks Problem; one posting frequency is too often and the other is not often enough with too few organizations (31% or less) implementing a just-right option.

Admittedly, this is the most subjective conclusion we drew from the report. Although specific circumstances play a role in how often organizations should post to Facebook (their staffing levels, size of audience, etc.), we feel that there is a general rule-of-thumb that leads to a better return on resources for associations using the platform. For example, posting once a day requires a lot of time and effort to develop content and create a post while Facebook’s algorithms make it less-than-likely that the content will show up on people’s news feeds. Posting once a week or less just means your audience may tempted to relegate you to irrelevancy, meaning your efforts are for naught.

The ideal scenario would be to post to Facebook two to four times a week. This is generally an effective, efficient schedule that keeps your efforts consistent and produces the best quality of content. Because of these factors, this is also the content that has the greatest capacity to draw views and engagement, making the return on resources higher.

How Associations Can Turn Numbers Into A Story On Social Media

From membership numbers to operating budgets, conference registration and website traffic, numbers are important to your association’s success. So, it would stand to reason that your organization has numbers coming out its ears.

On the flip-side, stories are the material that make social media run. A good story will provide your audience with a reason to become emotionally connected with your association and thus make it valuable for them to engage and invest in your organization in the present and the future.

The real question is, how do you turn raw numbers into a great story for your social media accounts? Here’s a few ideas that can raise your online game to a new level:

Put A Face To The Numbers

Here’s the scenario: You have all these numbers floating around your office that show how much you’re helping members; how much members are saving on education each year, the salary increase members get from credential programs, how many members are becoming eco-friendly and so on and so forth. The problem is, you don’t know how to take these raw numbers and turn them into something that will entice members.

Presenting the numbers themselves, as is, can be effective, especially if they are rather impressive. However, singling out a member that is part of that data lets you create a story around their experiences and takes an impressive number and elevates it to pure value. For example, if a member who goes through your association’s credential program earned 25% more based on your salary survey, profile a member who has gone through this process. Give them a write-up on your blog, post a video of the interview on your YouTube channel, post a short version on Facebook and share all this on Twitter.

This takes a number and turns into concrete evidence that your association does help members and create value for them. It makes the numbers more relateable and easier to remember when they are deciding whether to join your association and participate in it.

Get Creative With the Numbers

Here’s the scenario: Your association is presenting their annual findings from its post-conference survey or its compensation survey or its AGM or any other business-as-usual data collection. The problem is, no one seems to be paying all that much attention and you’re wondering how to make people in the industry excited about your efforts again.

Your members see the same information year after year after year and even though the numbers are relevant to their careers and position in the association, they can’t help but let their eyes glaze over when they hear/see the stats. A good way to tell a story with these numbers is to have some fun with them by transforming them into relateable, bite-sized chucks of content. For example, instead of telling members how many hours of education your association provides, tell them how much money each minute at a particular seminar will save them on the job or compare the hours spent at a conference to some other, less valuable pursuits that take the same amount of time (ie. you can drive from Toronto to Winnipeg or you can learn about 8 different topics at our conference). Post these little tidbits to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or wherever!

This fresh perspective on numbers and how they relate to the lives of members tell a richer, more interesting story that simply reeling off stats. It will encourage members to see their investment in a different light and appreciate what the association does for them.

Turn The Numbers Into Visuals

Here’s the scenario: It’s the end of the year and you want to show members and non-members alike what your association has accomplished over the last 12 months. The problem is, you’re unsure how to promote the value your association provides without it looking like a hard sell for membership.

This is a common conundrum that plays an important part in any association’s membership drive & renewal process. Turning numbers that indicate success into content that industry members can consumer and engage with is no easy task. One of the best ways to transform these stats into a story is through visuals. Infographics are a great way to present facts and information in a way that is colourful, engaging and easy to relate to. Infographics are also easy to share on any social media platform you can think of. Another great way to tell a story with these figures is through photos. Document the great times at a conference, the meetings you’ve had with politicians or other allied organization and other ways in which you’ve boosted awareness of the industry. Post these pictures, along with a short, story-like description in an album on Facebook, a board on Pinterest, a collage on Twitter or posts on Instagram.

Visuals are a powerful way to capture the attention of your online audience and stimulate conversation. It brings the ordinary onto a new level and presents members and potential members with definite proof of what your association can offer them.