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.

The Five Types of Videos That Will Better Engage Your Association’s Membership

There’s a reason FaceTime and Skype are popular communication apps; it’s always better when you see the face that matches the voice.

The above statement can help association’s learn a little something about connecting with members. Every organization has a voice they strive to speak with and that voice is developed over time through newsletters, advocacy, magazines, websites, events and similar communication initiatives. When association’s do it well, members come to recognize and trust this voice. However, putting faces to that voice can be a key piece in raising your association to the next level. Videos are a great way to accomplish this goal.

Videos can come in all shapes and sizes. So which videos are the right ones for associations? We’ve put together a few examples that can help you cover important angles of your organization and better engage members.

Highlighting Members and Their Achievements

Members are the lifeblood of any association. Without members, there is no organization. Every benefit, every event and every project is based on helping members grow and be successful. But you knew all of that already. Videos can help your organization highlight members, their contribution to the industry and society and draw attention to your association’s part in that success. A video will give your members a platform to speak about their accomplishments. It will also help people realize that you are focused on helping professionals excel. A video is important as it puts a face to the name and it allows others tell the community about the importance of your association instead of it coming from the association itself, which can often be tuned out.

Event Previews and Recaps

Events serve two main purposes; to give members a chance to learn and network and to capture a big percentage of your association’s non-due revenues. Drawing people to events is never a cakewalk, especially if you are a national association that has to persuade members to spend money traveling and attending. Videos can help your organization engage members and play a part in promoting key events.

An event preview video can come in the form of a digital tour of the venue, presenters talking about their sessions, or a long-time attendee talking about the value they get from the event. An event recap can be a bit more fun and creative, showing all elements of the event. It will appeal to an attendee’s nostalgia and encourages promotion of future events through word of mouth.

Welcome to the Office

Long-time members, new members and potential members of your association all want to know that the people working for them are dedicated, passionate and focused. Your staff are the ones working behind the scenes to ensure the organization is living to its promises and creating the best experience for members. A video can help put this into perspective for members and can go where words often cannot when describing the importance of the association.

Videos that introduce members and potential members to the association can focus on a Day-in-the-Life theme to highlight exactly what the staff does to improve the organization, or it can an introduction of the staff with them explaining what the association means to them. These sort of videos are a warm welcome to new members, familiarizes existing members with staff and provides a human element to the organization for potential members.

How-to Guides

The value of a good how-to cannot be overstated. Your members come to your association because they want to achieve more in their careers and help grow the industry. Your association is probably giving them the tools to accomplish this, but they may not be clear on how to use these tools most effectively. This is where how-to videos come in handy.

A how-to video can help members access the right programs/benefits for their goals, it can help them take advantage of the initiatives your association has instituted and it can help guide them through processes that may seem complicated at first. For example, if one of your association’s benefits is a certification program, a video showing the steps involved in achieving this certification and how to complete them can be advantageous to members who may be confused by the process. This will help members receive greater value for their money and will allow your association to see a greater return on investment.

Association News and Accomplishments

We’re guessing that your association achieves a lot. It has probably helped its members’ profession rise to new levels and redefined what it means to be part of the industry’s community. But does anyone really even half of everything the association has achieved? Maybe or maybe not. With a video, the answer leans more toward a for sure.

Videos are a great way to tell a story about the latest developments on your association. You can illustrate how the organization met with politicians to lobby on its members’ behalf, or showcase a new technology that members can use. Videos are an engaging way to showcase what can seem like mundane news because their images are engaging and capture the attention of members. So next time you need some more awareness of your association’s news, try a video on for size.

How Managing a Social Media Account is Like Going to the Gym

Being fit is a big business these days. There are gyms on every other corner and home fitness programs are becoming commonplace in many a basement.

There’s plenty that a social media manager can learn about this weighty trend (excuse the pun). Managing an organization’s Twitter account, Facebook page, YouTube channel or any other social network can be a lot like lifting weights and putting in hours on the treadmill. So if you are feeling guilty about skipping your workout today, sit back and at least read about some exercise.

Stretch First

It’s always a good idea to stretch before doing any kind of physical activity; your body will thank you tomorrow morning. Preparation is also important in the social media world and when managing your account.

Before you start (or re-start) your organization on a social media platform, it’s important to do some homework. You need to know which platform is best for your association, non-profit or small business and which audience you’re trying to target. Knowing the goals you want to achieve is also crucial to being successful on any platform, as is drawing up a design plan for your new account.

The planning isn’t done when the social media account goes live. It’s crucial to plan your social media strategy on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Building a content calendar is a helpful tool in preparing for the week or month ahead and ensuring that your account is engaging and efficient. It’s a win/win for both your organization and its community.

Don’t Overwork Your Muscles

Every exercise guru knows that rest is just as important as being active in the world of fitness. It’s never a bright idea to work the same muscle over and over again, every day, because the muscles cannot recover fast enough. It becomes counterproductive.

Social media is similar in that posting about the same issue or topic too frequently will drive people away. For example, if your association, non-profit or small business tweets about itself and a great benefit/cause/promotion twice a day, every day, people will find little value in following the account and will stay away. Remember to provide diverse, but relevant content to your network to keep them engaged and coming back for more.

You will also have to think about how often your organization posts in general. Posting too frequently can leave your community feeling overwhelmed, but not posting enough can make your desired audience forget about you entirely. Experiment with posting frequency, analyze the data and set yourself a schedule you can follow.

No Pain, No Gain

The old adage, no pain, no gain, has more than a little truth to it when you’re in the gym. When you’re a little sore, it usually means that you’ve done something right and you can build on that feeling. Going through some tough times is also normal on social media.

You’re probably going to run into a little pain when managing an organization’s social media account; i.e. some criticism or negative reaction. This is normal and can even be advantageous. As a public and engaging media, social networks open your organization up to scrutiny and criticism. Some people may shy away from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or any other platform because of this inevitability. But there are many steps you can take to handle the odd negative interaction.

One of the most crucial steps you can take to combat criticism is to turn a negative into a positive. Use criticism to improve your services and gain trust from members/non-members, customer/potential customers and donors/potential donors. This will help your organization grow and be stronger.

Have a Spotter

A spotter is a teammate, a coach and a cheerleader rolled into one. He/she is someone who can help you through a workout and make sure you don’t get hurt when you’re lifting weights. Having a similar people at your organization or on social media will give your online efforts a boost.

We’ve covered the importance of having a content calendar, but we haven’t mentioned the need to get feedback on this plan and any other content you share. Getting input from colleagues or staff on your content calendar, blog, YouTube video or other content will expose you to new perspectives and help you catch any mistakes or omissions. Getting your staff/board/donors to participate on social media will also help make your accounts strong.

One of the most important goals of social media is to engage with your target audience. When you interact with your audience, you’re more likely to make a lasting connection that results in a monetary investment. Find out which content is most valuable to your audience and connect with people on a regular basis and they will become your cheerleader both online and offline.

Cool Downs are Important

It’s not a bright idea to go straight from the gym to your car to your couch. You need to do some cool down exercises to help your muscles recover and lower your heartbeat. A cool down is also important when managing a social media account.

A cool down in social media language means collecting the data from your efforts and analyzing it to create a better strategy moving forward. It is essential to track your progress on social media and gather as much data as you can. When analyzing this data later (at the end of the month, the quarter or the year), look at which content provided the most value and seek to increase the frequency in which you post this kind of content.

Knowing which data is most important is also a key factor in ‘cooling down’. There are a few key stats that all organizations should be paying attention to and which can tell you a lot about how your social media platforms are doing.

Three Key Takeaways

- Have a plan for your social media account. This will help you be engaging and relevant and guard against too much repetition in your content.

- Get feedback from colleagues and encourage participation on social media from inside and outside the office.

- Take some time to analyze your strengths and weaknesses on social media and don’t be afraid of a little criticism; it can be turned into an opportunity for your organization to grow.

How Often Should Your Non-profit/Association Be Posting On Social Media?

Posting on social media can sometimes feel like driving on an icy road; if you veer too far to one side, you’ll skid off the path and into the ditch. If your organization posts too little, the account will become irrelevant and people will lose interest. If you share too much content, people will likely feel overwhelmed and annoyed and will probably unfollow or unlike your account (or the equivalent).

It’s difficult to gauge how often your non-profit or association should be posting on social media. It varies with the platform, the audience and what your organization’s wants to achieve. While one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to frequency of posting, we’ve put together a guideline to help you and your non-profit out.

Facebook: 5-10 per week

This may seem low, especially because other sources suggest anywhere from 14 to 25 posts per week, but fewer posts are often better for non-profits and associations because of their audiences.

Facebook is a more private platform than, for example, Twitter and YouTube. Your followers are often restricted to those who are truly invested or engaged in what your organization works towards, such as members or donors. Fewer posts allow your organization to highlight the things that are important to this very defined audience, like highlighting a new initiative, member benefit, event or member accomplishment. Limiting the number of posts to 10 or fewer per week helps keep interest and engagement high. When you’re only providing content that appeals to your target audience, instead of posting simply because you want to meet a weekly quota, people are less likely to scroll past your name on their newsfeed because they realize there is value in every post.

Twitter: 3-8 times per day

Twitter is a different beast than Facebook. It’s more public (anyone can see your tweets) and tweets tend to be shorter and more conversational. Twitter is also a more common place for people to go to get information and content, as opposed to the more social platform that is Facebook. All this combines to make it beneficial to tweet more often.

Twitter and hashtag feeds fill up fast and your organization has to complete will thousands of other pieces of content that is flying past your target audience’s eyes. Tweeting more often helps get your content recognized. Tweeting 3-8 times per day also helps your organization cover a variety of different areas and issues that might appeal to your members, including relevant articles, photos, organization-specific news, industry updates and conversation starters. If you’re not providing value on Twitter, followers will often unfollow your account, as there are many other sources available. However, posting too much may push your connections to use the Mute button. Tweeting 3-8 times per day is often a happy medium.

Blogging: 3-8 times per month

A blog is like a newspaper, but more people with special interests. If you picked up the Saturday issue of the newspaper, expecting a nice, relaxing and informative read and instead saw last week’s articles, you might be a little ticked. The same is true of a blog.

Depending on your industry and the resources at your disposal, a blog should be updates at least once a week, or ideally 3-8 times per month for non-profits/associations. The purpose of a blog is to give your readers an engaging and informative forum to learn and get caught up on news, trends and tips. But it’s also a platform that establishes your organization as the “expert” in an industry and drives traffic to your website. If your blog is not being published consistently, people will lose faith in the “expert” moniker and will stop typing your website into the search bar, directing their valuable time to other sources.

Pinterest: N/A

Pinterest is a tricky platform to declare an exact range of frequency for your organization to post, but the situation can be viewed through two lenses; the goal of Pinterest is mainly to drive traffic to websites and the social network is similar to a combination of Twitter and blogs.

The first lens we’re viewing Pinterest through (the goals is to drive traffic), helps you determines the frequency with which to post original pins. Find out which websites or web pages you want to drive traffic to and post accordingly. For instance, if you are a Business Improvement Area (BIA) and want to highlight members, it might be a good idea to pin 2-3 times per day to cover different interests and drive traffic to your members’ pages. If you are an organization who is raising money for a cause, posting original pins 2-3 times per week may be good to keep interest high, but not reuse the same stories, stats or articles.

The second lens (Pinterest is a combo of Twitter and blogging) helps you decide how often to re-pin posts. Pinterest is very public and updates frequently (like Twitter), but is also a platform that encourages regular viewing of certain boards (like blogging). Make sure to pin enough (1-3 times per day) so that your content is fresh, engaging and relevant for loyal visitors.

YouTube: 1-4 times per month

YouTube is a platform that is often used together with other social media networks, which means that videos are usually seen on blogs, websites, Facebook or Twitter. This unique trait is part of the reason its frequency is 1-4 times per month.

YouTube can often be thought of as an addition to other platforms’ editorial plans. For example, one video showcasing a member/donor per week can be slotted into an organization’s Twitter calendar for a particular month. Since YouTube videos usually act as a supplement to other platforms for non-profits and associations, be careful not to overdue the frequency with which you post videos. Posting 1-4 times per month will keep videos in your content calendar and your YouTube channel from becoming stale.

Instagram: 1-4 times per day

Instagram is as close to a purely visual platform as you can get with the big social media networks. Pictures are treated differently than words, which is why the frequency of posting is higher for Instagram than most other platforms.

Pictures take less time to appreciate than words. Instagram’s “liking” process is also fairly quick (a tap on the screen means you’re a fan of the photo). These two elements add up to Instagram users checking and scrolling through posts at a fast and furious pace. To keep relevant, engaging and in front of people’s eyes, posting frequently to Instagram is a must for any association or non-profit who chooses to use this platform. A word of warning to any organizations thinking of using Instagram; don’t start an account if you don’t have a daily source of visual, because without this well to draw on, your followers will forget you pretty fast.

LinkedIn: 2-3 times per week

LinkedIn, like every other platform on this list, has a specific purpose that determines how frequently your organization should post on it. LinkedIn is an association’s dream platform as it fulfills a primary goal of an organization; offering professional development to members. If your association chooses to invest resources in LinkedIn, a frequent and consistent approach to posting should be taken.

LinkedIn offers an opportunity to appeal to the professional side of your connections. Posting articles, conversation points, job openings and similar content can be done multiple times a week to keep members engaged and give them a chance to get involved, learn or contribute to a discussion and keep up with the latest trends and techniques that allow them to do their job better. LinkedIn, much like a blog, will allow your organization to be known as an expert and a great forum to go to when someone wants to connect with like-minded individuals. If you are not consistent, the forum will go into disuse and lose all effectiveness, but posting too often may make people overwhelmed and unwilling to contribute. Posting 2-3 times per week should provide a great balance.

Other Things to Consider

Determining the frequency with which your organization should post on different social media sites is not an exact science, but it is a type of science. The advice in the paragraphs above is simply a guide. The best path for your organization to travel is to experiment with different frequencies of posting, collect the data, analyze it and see which strategy turns out the most favourable results.

You will also have to be flexible with your frequency of posting. The number of times you tweet or post to Facebook, Instagram, etc. will change depending on the exceptional circumstances of your non-profit/association. For instance, you will probably tweet more when your association is hosting its annual conference or if your charity is having a fundraising event.

The key to finding the best frequency with which to post is to stay organized, stay flexible and stay informed. Using these tools, you’ll social media platforms will go from good to great in no time.

The Issues That Matter Most To Association Executives And How Social Media Can Help

The one issue that matters to association leaders, above all else, is lobbying and advocacy, according to a study by Association Adviser and Naylor LLC.

Informing the government, media and general public about an industry and its members mattered more to association leaders than any other duty, ahead of such topics as member news, industry best practices and networking, in the survey of 910 executives.

While the responses to the survey showed a wide range, all the top issues had one element in common; they can be addressed, in part, with a great social media strategy.

We took a look at the top five most important topics for association leaders and how social media can give each area a boost.

Lobbying and Advocacy

The Naylor reports explains the ascendancy of the issue of lobbying and advocacy like so, “…it’s because there’s a great deal of ‘misinformation—even fabricated information’ presented to legislators that it can easily turn into bad legislation. ‘This increases costs to consumers…'”

We detailed how social media can help the lobbying and advocacy efforts of associations a couple months ago, so we’ll highlight some of the key takeaways from the post that address how being social can help dispel myths and aid advocacy.

Social media platforms, like Twitter or Facebook, make it easier for your association to stay on top of all the latest news, trends and comments. Having a strong presence on these platforms allows your association to have a conversation about falsehoods or misinformation that may pop up online. Blogs, YouTube, Twitter and other platforms can also act a rallying point for members to join an advocacy campaign by your association and a place to shine the spotlight on member achievement where thousands of people are paying attention.

And when a city, a country or the world takes notice, so too, do politicians.

How-To/Best Practices

How-To/Best Practices came second on Naylor’s list, just slightly behind advocacy and lobbying. Just like the previous section, we’ve covered how social media can help you create and promote a how-to for members. Here are some of the finer points of our explanation:

Social media is a storyteller’s dream and that’s what a how-to is all about. If you can tell a great story, explaining how to go about an activity in the best way can be engaging for members. A video on YouTube or an infographic tacked onto Pinterest, a blog, Twitter or a website will give your members a visual to go along with your story.

Social media also provides members a place to ask questions about the how-to or interact with experts in the field who have published an article about best practices. Sometimes an article, video or explanation is not enough, but social media is there to save the day and give members the more in-depth knowledge they need and want. Host a Twitter chat, monitor the comments and plan a follow-up webinar to your how-to/best practices posts.

Industry News/Trends

There’s no denying it; people go online to get most of their news now-in-days. Your association’s members are no exception.

Being online and on social media will help your association connect members to the news and trends that will benefit them in their profession. Like we mentioned earlier, social media is a great way to keep tuned to all the latest news on a particular industry, particularly with tools such as Paper.li and hashtag monitoring. Spreading the word to members takes an engaging tweet and a little digging on which articles are the most timely and helpful.

News comes in all shapes and sizes and so does social media, which makes it a match made in heaven. You can write a blog for more a more in-depth look at news or to promote the latest technological trends, for example, or take to Instagram to document the latest about association programs, services and events in bite-sized chunks. Promoting your association’s magazine or newsletter on social media allows a much wider audience to find value in your organization’s services and makes them more likely to invest in the association in the form of membership.

Career/Professional Development

Think of the career development resources your association offers members and you can probably come up with at least a handful of examples before you finish reading this sentence. Most of them can be promoted and made more accessible through social media.

Events are a hub of learning for members and social media can add a tremendous amount to any conference, meeting or webinar, such as live-tweeting, daily recap blog posts and YouTube interviews with speakers. We’ve also detailed, at length, the newest form of education and career development taking off right now called Meetup and how it could help your association and its members.

Other programs, such as a mentorship initiatives, accreditation courses and awards programs, lend themselves beautifully to the kind of storytelling social media does so well. Tweets, Facebook posts, YouTube videos and infographics can capture success stories and can make people in the industry aware of the programs when they might otherwise not have known they existed.

Statistics and Data That Help Them Do Their Job Better

Social media is a goldmine of helpful stats and data that help both association leaders and association members do their job better.

Social media provides a wealth of information about an association’s members and non-members and recent developments have made it even easier to access this data. Twitter analytics became open to all Twitter users in the last month and the data to be gleaned from the available numbers could be a game-changer for association leaders. Executives can now measure which issues get the most engagement, which trends members are paying attention to most and what topics are receiving the best response from the general public. And the best part is that it’s free! There are not many resources that are better than Twitter analytics for conducting research into the behaviour, wants and needs of membership.

As for relaying the stats and facts that members want to see, well, we’ll just leave this right here. It about sums up the giant role of social media in presenting the relevant facts to the right audience.

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The most important issues for association leadership are constantly changing, but what will continue to stay the same is social media’s ability to lend a helping. From advocacy to statistics, social networking platforms can bridge the gap between problems and solutions in a cheap, effective way for many an association executive.

 

4 Ways for A Non-Profit Organization to Use Social Media on its Website

An organization’s website is its online HQ. It’s where much of the non-profit magic happens.

Websites can help a charity take donations, update an association’s members on the latest news and services and give other non-profits a space to tell its community about an upcoming event.

The bottom line is that websites are important to your non-profit, as is social media. So how to you bring the two together to make the online experience better for your community? We’ve put together four suggestions for integrating social media with your organization’s website.

1. Twitter

Putting your organization’s Twitter feed on the home page of its website it a great way to keep visitors to the site up-to-date and engaged. Not only does it let your community know your non-profit is on Twitter (and make it more likely they will follow the account), but it also makes the content you tweet about more accessible to those who may not be as social media savvy. Twitter feed widgets are generally simple to install and don’t take up too much space on your website’s home page.

One tool that could help your organization drive Twitter engagement from its website is ClickToTweet. This tool allows you to write a suggested tweet for any content on your website and turns it into a clickable link on your web page. It kind of looks something like this:

Tweet: The Upwards Blog: Bringing you the latest in social media for non-profits since 2013 http://ctt.ec/99Su1+

This makes it easy for visitors for your website to share news, information, event notices or other things from your website without a hassle while allowing you to track how many times your community engaged with the link.

2. YouTube

Your website is almost like a welcome mat for visitors; you can either put out the old, dusty square of fabric or roll out the red carpet to start the experience. YouTube videos can help you make it the latter.

Making a YouTube and placing it on your home page is a great way to welcome visitors to your non-profit’s website right away. This sort of video can be as simple as a greeting from the executives/board of directors or it could explain, in a fun and visual way, what your organization is about. It may also be helpful for those who are new to your website, such as first-time members or donors, to have a video guiding them through the website and how to get the most out of it.

YouTube videos can also be used to highlight members, donors, volunteers or sponsors for your organization. Putting these videos on your website, in a place designated for community recognition, would only increase the exposure your members receive. Not only does this highlight the good your community is doing, but it also shines the spotlight on what your organization can offer to potential and current members.

3. Blog

If you want your non-profit’s website to be more than just a dreary notice board, it’s time you became a storyteller (aka, a blogger). A blog creates a space on your website to tell stories, go in-depth on issues and allows for some creative sharing strategies for members, volunteers and staff. It takes your website from a boring drive down a country rode to one along a stunning, ocean-side highway.

Establishing a blog on your website takes a lot of consideration, design and content creation, but the benefits and options are numerous. Share photos, event recaps, editorials, calls-to-action, original articles and infographics from your blog. Make sure to have a specific section for your blog and make it easy to access blog archives. Not only does this help your organization’s SEO, but it makes it a better experience for visitors.

4. Pinterest

Pinterest is like the older brother your website wants to be like; it’s creative, it’s engaging and it’s visually appealing. Really, what this section is all about is mimicry; try to make your website more like Pinterest. Have more visuals on your page. Lists and how-to guides can help clear up complicated processes for members or donors. Include infographics and link to other resources your community might find interesting.

If you’re really in the mood to be radical and revolutionary, make your organization’s Pinterest account its website. It’s cheap and is guaranteed to pack the visual punch that’s engaging. Have a Pinterest board for each section that would normally be a menu item on your website and tell stories about your association or other non-profit through pictures and infographics. This approach isn’t for every organization, but it does offer something new and fresh.

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Your non-profit’s website is an integral part of what makes your organization tick. Incorporating social media into your website takes it to a whole other level and gives your community a place to learn, participate and have some fun at the same time. Explore the options available for you and your non-profit when it comes to combining social media and website and watch a world of opportunity become open to you.

5 Ways Social Media Can Help Your Association’s Lobbying Efforts

Non-profits do a lot of things very well; networking, education and events come to mind.

A vast majority of member-based organizations do all these things with one goal; to promote their members and help them grow in their professions. That’s where lobbying comes in. There are few better chances to make big change in the lives of your association’s members than bringing an issue to those in government.

Lobbying can be used in many ways by associations, whether it’s to encourage tax fairness, promote regulation, combat negative legislation or some other issue.

But lobbying can often be a time-consuming and expensive endeavor, especially for non-profits that don’t have the big budgets of their corporate counterparts. Social media can come as a reinforcement on this front, helping associations and their members petition for a better tomorrow for all in a particular industry. Here are a few ways to turn social media into social change:

1.  The Rallying Cry

You can’t have grassroots advocacy without the roots; i.e. the hundreds or thousands of people that are stakeholders in your cause. For associations, these people are the members. Getting members together to support a common cause can be a challenging goal to achieve. It’s not that they are apathetic or unwilling, but sometimes it’s difficult to reach such a large and diverse audience made of people focused on their own careers.

Social media helps get the message out to members fast and efficiently. For example, an infographic blog post can help explain the issue, its effect on members and what the association is doing to help the industry with lobbying efforts. A YouTube video is a great way to let members know how to go about contributing, whether it’s writing a letter, signing a petition or some other activity that benefits the lobbying effort. And lastly, tools like Twitter and Facebook are great ways to spread these messages far and wide.

2. The New Tin Can and String

The old tin can and string were the cell phones of childhood, the devices that supposedly kept friends connected over the vast distance that was the playground. The technology age has arrived and with it, an update on the homemade device. Now you can have a two-way conversation with anyone by using social media and this comes in handy when you’re an association lobbying for change.

Social media platforms give your association the vehicle to pass on information to members about the lobby efforts and issues at hand while at the same time giving members an opportunity to ask questions, share ideas and offer feedback on the lobbying activity. Twitter, for example, is a great way to pass on information and talk to members in a way that engages them and encourages them to take up the cause. This turns your effort into a truly grassroots approach and helps you triumph much faster and easier.

3. The Radar Game

It’s important to stay on top of the latest news around the issue your association is lobbying for and social media is the place to do this monitoring. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, blog comments and reddit are only a few of the social media channels that can be used as your organization’s radar. Tracking the goings-on around the issue you are lobbying for gives you a sense of how to best go about garnering support amongst members how to effectively push for change.

Social media is also a great place to connect with those who have been through similar situations. LinkedIn, for example, is a great platform to connect with association professionals who have had success in lobbying for similar legislation and getting their insight on the matter. Even connecting online with someone who hasn’t been as successful in mobilizing support, rallying members or petitioning the government can be helpful and lead to a breakthrough.

4. The Bottom Line Builder

Let’s face it, lobbying can be expensive. There’s travel, consultants, studies and more that push you up against a wall financially. But social media can help mitigate the monetary worries of lobbying and can bring lobbying from a bottom line buster to a bottom line builder.

Connecting with member online saves the time and money spent on mailing members. Planning gatherings or town halls with a Twitter chat or through LinkedIn can save your organization from planning a massive, in-person event. Every step is easier on your wallet with social media and has the added benefit of reaching more people.

5. The Megaphone

Recognition is important to retaining members and drawing new ones. That’s part of the reason an association would lobby; an organization recognizes what its members need and it works hard to achieve it. Sometimes this takes political action.

Recognition begets recognition. In other words, when you recognize your members with lobbying efforts, they will recognize your association’s hard work. Social media amplifies this outcome. When members see how vocal your association is online, they will appreciate the effort be more likely to support not only the lobbying, but other initiatives in the future.

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Lobbying is part of the mandate for many associations. Social media helps reduce the difficulty and cost of lobbying while increasing member engagement. All this adds up to a campaign that has more of a chance to succeed. So next time your association is pushing for change with your local or national government, embrace social media and all the great things it has to offer!