Social Media Lessons Your Organization Can Use Offline Too

Social media is most likely a small (but obviously important) part of your operation. Your association or small business is also concerned with the other types of marketing, programs, services and general upkeep that takes up a day. This doesn’t mean social media should be moved to the back burner or taken off the stove entirely when doing other critical tasks.

There’s a lot to learn when mastering social media management for your organization, but there’s also a lot to learn from your efforts that can be applied to other areas of your business or non-profit. Applying some of the strategies you follow online can help you build creative solutions offline as well. Here are four ways your social media savvy can translate to your organization’s other duties.

Handling Criticism

Nothing takes the spring out of your step like a disgruntled member or an angry customer. It happens to everyone. It’s unavoidable. You can’t please everyone all the time and people are going to make you aware that they’re not happy when their expectations are not met.

One of the most pervasive fears about being on social media is the negativity that is inevitable from putting your organization out on any platform. What many people don’t know is that social media is the perfect place to deal with individuals who want to take your organization to task. It allows you access to the criticism in the first place, it gives you the opportunity to connect with the complainant one-on-one and also lets you show how you have followed through with creating change from someone’s bad experience.

The lessons you learn about handling criticism online can be applied to real life. Take the time to handle each complaint personally. Avoid sounding like a robot with a standard phrase that sweeps all negativity under the rug. Follow up with the person who had a bad experience and show them how you have addressed the issue. Lastly, if the criticism is out of bounds and disproportionately effects the your other members/customers, be respectful, but walk away from the fight before it becomes one.

Developing Loss Leaders

A large part of social media’s effectiveness is about driving traffic to your organization’s website. For example, tweeting a link to your association’s blog on its website or pinning content that leads to your businesses’s site allows individuals to connect with your organization through content they find valuable. This is what often makes social media a loss leader; it gets people in the “door” to explore other services your organization has to offer.

It may be a good idea to take a page from social media and develop other loss leaders in your organization. For example, offer your association’s new members a chance to come to its annual conference for free. This gives new members, many of them new and with small budgets, a chance to see how your association can benefit them and help them develop their careers. You may lose money on their attendance, but it may lead them to invest in your association long-term while spreading your organization’s benefits far and wide through word of mouth.

Community Involvement

Social media is all about connecting with communities and building your own. That’s why Twitter chats are so popular and Facebook groups reach into the hundreds of thousands. Integrating your organization into these online communities broadens your audience and provides value to your target demographic, giving them more incentive to invest in your association or small business with their hard-earned money.

Creating a strategy to be involved in your community outside of social media is also important. As a small business, don’t be afraid to invite other local shops and business owners to collaborate on an event. The saying, “United we stand, divided we fall,” is never far off the mark.

Similarly, encourage your association to get involved with local association’s that serve the same industry as yours, especially if you’re association is a national one. Plan events on a local level, tailor your advocacy plans for specific regions and strategize ways in which your board of directors can work within their community to spread the word about the work your association is doing.

Data Analysis

Any social media manager worth their salt will tell you that analyzing the data is crucial to determining the success of their efforts and making the necessary improvements to increase the benefits. You need to keep a handle of what the numbers mean and how they tie together to effect the big picture.

The same philosophy goes for your offline efforts. It’s important to know how your members or customers are using and reacting to certain programs, initiatives, services and products. For example, conducting a well thought out survey after your association’s annual conference will allow your organization to target the areas of the event that worked well and those that need to be tweaked or scrapped altogether.

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