What The 2015 Pan Am Games Can Teach Us About Social Media

The 2015 Pan Am Games officially closed last Sunday in Toronto and although the city still has the Para Pan Am Games to look forward to, this occasion gave the city and the entire country a chance to reflect on the achievement of its athletes and the process of hosting a major multi-sport event.

The lessons were plentiful and the opinions of experts and the general public alike shifted slowly from the opening ceremonies to the closing ceremonies. At the end of the day, the event was deemed a success by a vast majority of the commentators. Here at Incline Marketing, we always like to learn from successful organizations and events, so after examining what the Pan Am Games did right, we came up with four lessons from the event that can be applied to building a successful social media strategy. Here they are:

Plan For The Worst And You’ll Get The Best

Negativity reigned supreme among a majority of the local media and among the public before the Games started. The traffic was going to be absolutely, insanely horrible, no one was going to show up to the events and the newly built venues would be white elephants for decades to come. The Pan Am organizers heard these dire prophecies and worked hard at creating strategies to combat them. In the end, everything worked out as close to perfect as they could have, thanks in large part to the preparation of the organizers and volunteers.

A lot of people like to spout worst-case scenarios about social media too. For example, people fear that it opens them up to too much criticism or that the money/time spent on social media efforts is a giant waste. However, if you can plan effectively, you can take much of the sting out of these nay-sayers. Draw up a plan to deal with negative comments or sudden crisis on your social media platforms. Have guidelines that you and other staff should follow when posting to the organization’s Twitter account, Facebook page, etc. Develop strategies to measure your return on investment and achieve your goals. Having these plans in place will ensure that you’re prepared for the worst, but will most likely achieve the best.

Exclusivity Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

Part of the success of the 2015 Pan Am Games was its high level of accessibility. Tickets were relatively cheap and plentiful. Events were spread out across southern Ontario so people from different regions could take part. Open events, such as concerts, were held almost every day of the Games in popular spots. These are just some examples of how the organizers made the event inclusive and drew the attention of thousands of people that critics said would remain apathetic and disengaged.

There are many organizations that tout exclusivity as the ultimate reason for not only their success, but their very existence. In rare circumstances this may be true, but using wide-reaching exclusivity to draw an increased customer/membership base is generally an out-dated concept. When your organization makes content easily accessible through its social media channels, it is being inclusive. This inclusiveness gives people a sense of belonging, increases engagement and builds a community that people want to be part of. This is nothing but a win-win for your organization and its target audience.

Pride Is Powerful

Every single day throughout the course of the 2015 Games, Canadian athletes would say they performed at their very best because of the home crowd. When thousands of people are cheering you one and celebrating your every victory, no matter how big or small, it’s natural to want to work as hard as you can and give back to your supporters. The athletes were greeted by a wave of national pride and they rewarded Canadians with a record number of Pan Am medals.

Shining the spotlight on people’s accomplishments has a hugely positive effect on them outside of athletics too. Social media is a great vehicle for recognizing people in your community or a member/customer who has done something special. Highlighting their achievement in such a public way is an opportunity to show appreciation for the people who help make your organization a possibility. Just like support from fans, recognition in other industries is a two-way street. If your organization recognizes how hard you’ve worked to accomplishment something, you’re going to be more likely to renew membership, volunteer on a committee, subscribe to a newsletter or attend their next event.

Engagement Begets Engagement

By the time of 2015 Pan Am Games were winding down last week, the conversation was not about if the event was a success (there was no doubt it was), but if Toronto should host more international sporting competitions. People wrote about bringing the Track and Field World Championship or the FIBA World Championships to the city. And of course, the biggest clamour was for another bid on the Summer Olympics. This signalled a huge shift from the prevailing notion at the start of Games that Toronto was just too darn apathetic for a major multi-sport event to take off. But because the Pan Am organizers did such a good job at engaging the citizens of the city, Torontonians are wondering where they can get more.

Social media has these same addictive characteristics. The name of the game for a multi-platform strategy is engagement. The purpose of Twitter or Facebook or Instagram is to connect with your organization’s target audience and get them engaged and invested in the organization’s efforts, both online and offline. When engagement is fostered through social media, it becomes easier for your audience to see opportunities to get involved in other areas. That may be volunteering or attending events or simply referring your organization to their friend. The point is, engagement snowballs; when you make it easy to connect with your organization online, you open up your audience’s eyes to possibilities that exist in all areas.

Integrating Elements of Gamification Into Your Association’s Social Media Strategy

“The opposite of play isn’t work, it’s depression.”

The above quote served as the introduction to a presentation on using the science of play to create better association events by Julie King during the CSAE Trillium Chapter’s Summer Summit. King would go on to talk about how play can engage an association’s members and, in another presentation, how organization’s can use the elements of gamification to create a better member experience.

While gamification (the practice of applying the typical elements of game playing to other activities) is often associated with mobile apps, there’s no rule saying that it has to be restricted to the online world. In fact, during King’s presentation, several discussions among attendees resulted in ideas for how associations can use gamification in all areas of their operation.

Having said that, gamification is a perfect fit for association’s looking to boost their social media efforts. By using some of the elements of game play in social media strategy, associations can engage members, promote their services and increase the value they add to peoples’ lives. Here are a few elements of gamification and some ideas on how to integrate them into your social media efforts.

Mystery

Nothing captures peoples’ attention like a good guessing game. Working towards a big discovery is a key part of game play and gives everyone an opportunity to not only focus on the end result, but on the experience and the process as well. Incorporating mystery into your association’s social media strategy every once in a while will give your members a chance to see what your organization has to offer from a different perspective while also giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Integrating mystery into social media can be as complex or as simple as your association wants to make the task. Achieving an air of mystery can be as simple as asking a trivia question about your organization or industry on Twitter or Facebook. For example, you can tweet the question, “Who was our first president?” or “What is the name of the article on page 12 of the latest issue of our magazine?” Racing to find the answer and be the first one to solve this ‘mystery’ provides an opportunity to engage with members, for members to achieve something and for you to drive traffic to areas of your association you want highlighted.

If you want to go a little more complex, social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat are ideal for creating mystery. Providing visual clues for members is a great way to get them engaged and invested in the outcome. For example, post a portion of a picture that defines the location of your next event and have your members guess where the annual conference will be next year. It’s a fun and engaging way to get your members thinking about an upcoming event and give them some stake in the outcome. You can even award a prize to the first person who guesses correctly, which brings us to the next element of gamification…

Reward

Everyone likes getting rewarded for their efforts against fierce competition, whether it’s a trophy for winning the big golf tournament or the accumulation of “money” in a video game. Rewarding your members for a job well-done on social media is a great way to engage members and recognize them for their efforts, which means they are getting more value out of your association.

Again, using a reward system on social media can be as small or as big as your association wants. For example, ask your members to submit ideas for topics they would like to see as a webinar or conference presentation. Collect them and pick a winner who could receive a discounted conference registration or free attendance at the webinar. You can even go a step further and take some of the best ideas and pit them against each other in a bracket-style showdown for the best one. Members can vote each day through Twitter and Facebook (and Instagram and Twitter and LinkedIn, etc.) and the person who submitted the top choice could receive a prize.

If you want to go for something even more creative, try a project like Twitter Bingo. Twitter Bingo works like normal Bingo, but instead of numbers for each of the squares, there are tasks that can only be completed through Twitter, such as retweeting the association, mentioning another member in a tweet and tweeting one fact about the association. You organization can send out the Bingo “card”, members would complete the tasks and send the card back with screen-shot proof and either receive a prize or be entered to win a big reward.

Narrative

Storytelling is one of the best ways to learn. That’s the reason children are taught important life lessons through fairy tales and nursery rhymes and why some of the most popular video games in the world have great story lines. Stories need a good narrative to be successful and there is no better place to get your association’s story out than through social media. By incorporating this element of gamification into your online efforts, your association can connect with members and help educate members about products, services and value in an engaging way.

Integrating a narrative into your association’s social media can be done in a multitude of ways, both big and small and at any point in between. Depending on the platform, the narrative is going to look different. For example, if you association is on YouTube and wants to create a narrative about its conference, you can follow a first-time conference goer around and film his/her experience, edit it together and tell the story of the event through the eyes of a newcomer. This allows you to highlight the event through a unique perspective and one that your members will value. You can also create a recap of your event on YouTube and Instagram or tell the story of an award winner, the organization’s lobbying efforts or its history through a blog or a Facebook post.

If you want to try something a little more complex with a narrative, you can create a Choose Your Adventure blog post to promote your next event. Create multiple scenarios around the story of attending your next event. Members will need to navigate through the scenarios to reach a successful end. This creates a situation in which members will subtly learn about the features of the conference while having fun and being engaged. It also incorporates the concepts of mystery and reward into one project, making this blog post an all-around gamification superstar.

CSAE Trillium Chapter Summer Summit Recap: Finding ROI in Social Media for Associations

Last Thursday, Incline Marketing’s president and founder Marc Cousineau travelled to the Canadian Society of Association Executive’s (Trillium Chapter) Summer Summit in Huntsville, Ontario, where he gave a presentation on calculating the ROI of social media for associations.

The presentation covered various aspects of an association’s social media strategy, from member value to data analysis, determining goals, writing progress reports and making conclusions on return on investment metrics. Although each and every association will have a different take on social media according to their specific strategy, goals and target audience, this presentation seeks to give a template that organizations can use to gauge the efficiency and effectiveness of their online platforms.

A huge thank you goes out to the CSAE Trillium Chapter for giving us the opportunity to share our insights and knowledge on social media and associations. Take a look at the presentation below and feel free to ask any questions or give some feedback in the comment section!

How Associations Can Use Instagram Videos To Add Member Value

Instagram isn’t a a new player on the social media scene, having been around for more than five years, but associations are just now starting to explore the possibilities that the photo-sharing app provides.

A recent Association’s Now article highlighted Instagram’s growing popularity among membership organizations. The use of Instagram among associations has risen from from 19 per cent to 30 per cent in the past year and it appears that the upwards trend will continue.

Although Instagram is primarily a photo-sharing app, the video feature gives associations one more tool to use to boost their communications and marketing efforts. Instagram videos are restricted to a 15-second time limit, so a lot needs to be said in a quarter of a minute. Here are three ways associations can use this time wisely and provide value to their members.

Conference Programming Videos

There is a lot of programming packed into a short period of time at most association conferences. Instagram is a great way to capture the day that was in short, bite-sized portions of content that attendees can easily interact with.

There are many options for associations when it comes to what they can put into a 15-second video about conference programming. Film a couple key parts of an educational seminar or key note speech and edit them together to give Instagram users a good summary of the presentation. Put together a few frames that showcase a networking event or night of entertainment for attendees. You can even get in the habit of creating a quick video explaining the itinerary for the day for multi-day events.

Not only will these videos give attendees a chance to interact with the association, they are also a great way to promote several aspects of a conference and give attendees an opportunity to experience several parts of the event even though they couldn’t or didn’t go to every talk, trade show or meet-up.

“Tip of the Day” Videos

Part of the value that any association brings to members is being a guide on the path to a successful career and being a provider of accessible, high-quality information. Instagram videos are yet another way for associations to be a go-to resource for your members.

Your association has access to a mountain of information that is useful to its members. This is evident in the number of journal articles, magazine pieces, newsletters, conference education sessions and daily knowledge that the association puts together and gives to members for their benefit. Condensing come of this information into a 15 second video is a great way to provide value to members with taking up too much of their time or attention. Create a video telling members about a new app that could relate to them or summarizing new legislation that effects them. Include practical advice and solid information and your members will thank you.

“Did You Know”  Videos

There are products and services your association provides and members love to use and then there are products and services your association provides that are less popular. It doesn’t mean these offerings are bad, it might just mean members aren’t aware of it. Instagram videos can help members discover the extra value in your organization.

The “did you know” videos can work much the same way as the “tip of the day” videos. Highlighting an infrequently visited area of your website, explaining a new service your association provides or detailing the benefits of an offering can have a big effect on how people use them and, in turn, how much value they get from your association. For example, take members through the process of creating a job ad for their organization on the association’s job board. Once the process is demystified and made more accessible, it is more likely that more members will take advantage of the service. Once more members take advantage, they will receive more value.