Why Using Social Media Will Keep Your Association From Being Lazy

Associations Now published a piece on its website last week explaining that association membership is a two-way street and detailed the dangers of thinking of members as “my members”.

Here’s a great quote from the post,

“It’s true that, once a member has paid her dues for the year, that dues money belongs to you. But that’s it. The member’s time, attention, energy, and loyalty don’t belong to you. They never do. They must constantly be earned.”

What the author, Joe Rominiecki, is saying makes a lot of sense; members don’t have to engage whatsoever with their association if they don’t want to. Member dues are important (especially financially), but an association’s value is also bolstered by member participation in seminars, conferences, committees, lobbying and publications. And this is just naming a few times organizations rely on members to contribute.

In other words, complacency is a real association killer. An active presence on social media can help stomp complacency out, draw more members in and hold their loyalty and participation longer.

The big reason why this is true is, social media allows an almost 24/7 direct line to association staff and provides a forum where you can engage members in a two-way conversation. It’s almost impossible to be complacent with a consistent social media presence.

An organization is relaying news and promoting its services via Facebook, answering questions and replying to comments on Twitter, addressing recent issues and innovations with a blog and encouraging networking between members with LinkedIn. YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest are making all these pieces of information engaging and interactive. Oh, and associations are also doing all these things daily.

Here are some more concrete examples of how social media can get members involved and keep them from seeing their association as complacent:

  • Members will always have suggestions on how to make an annual event better. No conference is perfect, right? Twitter gives members a place to voice their suggestions and for the association to engage in a dialogue about these comments. Openness to change and improvement are the exact opposite of resting of your laurels.
  • Recognizing members who have been honoured with special achievements or awards definitely shows members that you don’t just appreciate them when their dues comes in. Profiling these members in an association blog or through YouTube is a great way to show association support comes all year long.
  • Introducing and moderating a weekly discussion topic on LinkedIn drives engagement, allows the association to identify obstacles its members may be facing and connects them with other members that may be able to share solutions, hands-on help or words of advice. This marks your organization as one that constantly supports its members and is always up-to-date on the issues affecting them.

These are just a few scenarios where social media can be used to help members daily and to show them that their association is not complacent and always operates by asking, “How can we continue to better serve those who are a part of this association?”

So just remember, membership is a two-way street and social media keeps the relationship between member and association from getting bogged down by traffic.

Monumental Millennials Part 2: Dos and Don’ts of Connecting with Youth on Social Media

Last week we talked about what social media platforms are best to engage the Millennial generation, or those between the ages of 10 and 30. This week we’re going to take a look at a few dos and don’ts of connecting with youth and up-and-coming young professionals.

Building interest and loyalty among youth and young adults is extremely important for non-profits and associations. Believe us, that’s no exaggerations. To prove it, let’s break down a few facts about the Millennial generation and how they communicate.

Millennials make up more than a quarter of the population of Canada. They are commonly considered the most socially aware generation ever. About 75% of Canadians between 15 and 30 donate to causes with an average yearly contribution of more than $150 per person, according to StatsCan. Young donors will likely continue to donate throughout their lives, meaning that fostering a relationship and loyalty is important.

There are about 165,000 non-profits and charities in Canada, according to Imagine Canada. With so many options, organizations need a way to reach young donors and volunteers. To reach them, you need to speak their language. Social media is increasingly becoming the language of today’s youth and tomorrow’s leaders.

So, understanding how to connect with Millennials on social media is pretty important.

Here are a couple dos and don’ts that will help your organization connect with the youth of today and the influence-makers of the present and future.

  • Don’t use email as a primary way to connect with youth. Email has been surpassed as the main way to communicate with Millennials. One organization found only about 10% of students opened its emails about initiatives and news.
  • Do use social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to connect personally with youth interested in giving or volunteering and to promote events and initiatives. A whopping 83% of 18 to 29-year-old adults are active on social media in 2013, according to a Pew Research study.
  • Don’t compromise your organization’s identity. Engaging with youth doesn’t mean talking in slang or dumbing down your message. Youth are drawn to your organization for a reason, stick with it!
  • Do make sure your website, app and social media platforms are mobile-friendly. A lot of social media activity comes via smart phone.
  • Don’t link your social media sites together. For example, do not set your Facebook posts to be automatically tweeted out. Repetition makes your organization forgettable to youth looking for creativity and originality in a crowded market.
  • Do experiment with different platforms. Millennials don’t stick to just one and finding the site or combination of sites that fits your organization best may require a bit of trial and error.
  • Don’t be one-dimensional. Youth are drawn to social media platforms because they offer words, pictures, videos and much more. Incorporate all of these into your social media strategy and have some fun with them.
  • Do make it easy for youth to engage. Make sure links to your social media accounts are front and center on the website and vice-versa. Searching and scrolling can turn people off your organization.

There’s no one tried and tested formula to engage Millennials, but by using the tips above, your organization can come closer to building long-lasting relationships with youth and young adults and establish itself as a leader in the industry.

Monumental Millennials: Engaging Youth With Social Media, Part 1

School is back in session and as students return to classrooms and desks, it begs the question, what is your organization doing to engage the youth of today and the leaders of tomorrow?

This isn’t just a question for post-Labour Day meetings and massive volunteer drives. It’s a question every organization should be answering on a daily basis.

The Millennial generation, those anywhere from 10-years-old to 30, have more access, influence and desire to participate than ever before and it’s due, in large part, to the power of technology and social media.

It’s no secret, Millennials aren’t just the ones who are going to be future members, executives, volunteers and donors for your non-profit or association; they already are all those things.

With all the possible ways to be active in organizations and the means to take advantage of them, Millennials are drawn mostly to organizations that can relate to them, engage with them and show them why they should commit to these organizations.

The beauty of social media is that it can achieve all the above in a way that is not only accessible for today’s youth and young adults, but does it in a technological language that many Millennials are now fluent in.

So, without further ado, here are some social media tools to capture the attention and loyalty of a generation.

Vine

Vine is to YouTube, what Twitter has been to blogging; a micro version. Vine is an app that enables users to record and share six-second videos for others to see. It’s quick, easy, visual, wildly popular and has pushed the bounds of creativity. It kind of sounds like the perfect formula doesn’t it? It’s a great way to get youth involved in your non-profit’s cause and share their passion and engagement with the world. It can also make science incredibly fun, which says something about its appeal.

Instagram

Like Vine and Twitter, Instagram is another abbreviated form of social media and has exploded in popularity in the past couple years. Facebook is a great platform to post pictures or videos and engage with members or the community, but Instagram is entirely devoted to uploading photos and short videos. Unlike Facebook, Instagram tends to be a more personal documentation of the user’s day-to-day life, which is an amazing thing for an organization that wants to capture its human side, the passion of their members or staff or wants to be humorous or informative. Instagram also allows you to caption and hashtag photos, which makes engagement incredibly easy.

LinkedIn

Social media is great for, well, building a social network. But LinkedIn allows for professional networking as well. Millennials in high school, post-secondary studies and in the work force have been increasingly using LinkedIn for years now to network with those individuals and companies that share the same professional causes, interests and aspirations. LinkedIn has responded by making groups easier to use and creating a sleeker format for personal pages. Connecting with young go-getters doesn’t get any easier or invigorating than LinkedIn where organizations can have conversations on a variety of topics with those who are interested in committing time, money or their careers to certain causes.

Millennials are using social media more and more and are looking for ways to change to world using these platforms. Give them a chance to do so through your organization and its social media.

Next week, in part two of this blog, we will discuss the dos and don’ts of engaging youth and Millennial generation. Stay tuned!

The Game Changer: Facebook Campaigns and What Organizations Need to Know

Last week, Facebook came out with a new policy that could revolutionize the way non-profits and professional associations do business.

The new guidelines make it possible for organizations to go ahead with promotions, contests and the like right on their Facebook pages, instead of through a third-party app.

Now organizations can endorse their promotions or contests on their Facebook page and use likes and comments as entries and votes. Before these new rules came into effect, organizations risked having their pages shut down by Facebook if they refused to go through a contest app to run their promotion.

Here’s the short story on the changes to the rules:

  • Promotions may be administered on page timelines and in apps on Facebook.
  • You can collect entries by having users post on the page or comment/like a page post.
  • You can collect entries by having users message the page.
  • You can utilize likes as a voting mechanism.
  • Individuals cannot administer promotions on personal Timelines.
  • It’s okay to ask people to submit names of a new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize.
  • It’s not okay to ask people tag themselves in pictures of a new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize.

What This Means for Non-Profits and Associations

You Can Spend Less Time Spending

Let’s face it, your budget isn’t unlimited and while most decent contest and campaign apps don’t break the bank, the costs add up and often times leave non-profits and associations without the capabilities to promote initiatives on Facebook. The new rules allow organizations to take matters into their own hands and save money.

You Can Spend More Time With The People

The new rules allow more contact with the people who make your organization run. Gone are the days when the community was forced to deal with apps that limited their engagement with the organizations they love, rely on and want to get involved with. Now that promotions can be based on comments, like and messages, they can more engaging. This will definitely foster a dialogue between organizations and members that non-profits and associations can turn into a long-term relationship.

You Can Spend More Time Being Creative

Creative restraints fall beside money as another obstacle that may have prevented your organization from doing a Facebook contest or promotion in the past. Don’t get us wrong, apps allow for almost as much creativity as organizations could muster, but more options always means more outside the box ideas. Likes can be put together with photos and sharing stories on a page can turn a contest into an inspiration. A whole new set of possibilities just opened up!

Whether your organization does many contests and promotions or hasn’t even thought of it until now, Facebook’s new rules have changed what is possible for organizations and Incline Marketing can help you rise to the occasion.