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 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.
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.
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.
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.