Four Micro-volunteering Opportunities For Association Members On Social Media

Micro-volunteering has become all the rage in association circles and for good reason. Volunteering has always been a key tool for industry organizations because it lowers costs, gets members engaged and participating and improves services by adding a diverse and expert set of voices. The ever-growing, fast-paced reality of today’s world means fewer and fewer members are looking for the long-term commitment inherent in many association volunteer opportunities, such as sitting on a standing committee. However, members still want to get involved in helping their association, which is why micro-volunteering, the practice of volunteering in small increments of time, is growing in popularity.

It’s one thing to recognize this desire for micro-volunteering among members and another thing to find and provide these opportunities to them. Have no fear, we put together four social media-based micro-volunteering opportunities your association can offer to members. Here they are:

Moderate A Twitter Round Table

It’s always great to get an industry veteran on board with a volunteer opportunity, but some of the most well-known and well-respected people in the business are often busy or trying to refocus on family and leisure. Moderating a Twitter round table is a perfect way to include a senior member in a micro-volunteer position, capitalize on his/her clout among other professionals and add value for members by sharing the expertise of the moderator.

Contact a senior member of your association, preferably one that has a fair amount of experience on Twitter, and work with them to determine a topic and questions for the round table. Promote the round table to your association’s network, especially their ability to ask questions of the moderator and join in on the discussion. This planning session will probably take about an hour and the round table itself will usually run no more than an hour and a half for a total volunteer time of about two hours!

Manage An Account For The Day

This is a great opportunity to include all the different segments of your association’s membership into a micro-volunteering role. Recruit a student, a young professional, a veteran, a supplier/business member or any other demographic of member and have them post from the association’s Twitter, Facebook or Instagram account for a whole day. Not only is this fun and engaging for both the member and the audience, it also highlight’s your association’s connection and dedication to the type of member doing the posting.

This micro-volunteering opportunity doesn’t take much planning with the volunteer, but it does take some. Prior to the day, discuss generally what might make for some good posting with the volunteer, but don’t give specific guidelines as you want to give the volunteer some freedom to use their own point of view. Make sure they know what is acceptable and unacceptable to post. This planning process and the day of posting should only take up about two hours total for the volunteer.

Cover An Event Live On Social Media

This is a great opportunity for a member who wants to have a hand in shaping an association’s event without having to sit on a planning committee or get stuck at a registration area. Recruit a social media-savvy member to live-tweet an event, write blog post recaps or post on Facebook, Instagram, Vine or Snapchat during the event. Not only will this take pressure off your staff, but it will give an attendee’s-eye-view of what your association offers.

Before a volunteer or volunteers can cover an event live on social media, there has to be a small amount of planning. They need to know the schedule of events and which people and issues are the most important to highlight. This involves a quick email on your part a small amount homework on the volunteer’s part. While the event may take up one to three days, the social media aspect will only require a few hours from the volunteer, totalling altogether about four to five hours. You can even incentivize the opportunity further by giving your volunteer free or discounted access to the event!

Take Part In Social Media Tag

This is the easiest and quickest way for your association’s members to participate in a micro-volunteering opportunity. Association’s are always looking for a way to get the word out, promote their value and highlight the services they offer. Instead of having volunteers write long testimonials or sit on marketing and communications committees, have them play social media tag. This requires them to answer a question, such as, “What is the best reason for being a member of Association X?” and then tagging someone else on their social media platform to answer this question. It’s fun, easy, uses elements of gamification and helps spread the word about your organization.

Like we said above, this is the easiest and quickest form of micro-volunteering there is. It will not take a member more a minute or two to contribute to this cause, but it has the potential to have a long-lasting effect on how both members and potential members view your association.

How Associations Can Use Video Streaming To Provide More Value and Increase Engagement

Videos have become a largely effective tool for generating engagement on social media platforms. YouTube is churning out tens of millions of views and a new viral video every day and it’s been proven that Twitter and Facebook posts with videos get more engagement than those that don’t on average. So videos are great, but people are always looking for the next big thing, and video streaming might just be it. This mode of online networking has exploded in popularity recently and changed the way people are communicating through their computer and mobile devices.

If you’re unfamiliar with video streaming services, they are online applications that allow users to connect with people or events in real time through live video. For example, Skype is one of the most well-established video streaming services that allows users to have a conversation using video via their computers or mobile devices. Since video streaming has taken the social media world by storm in the last year or so, we’ve taken a look at three of the most popular services and how associations can use them to increase their value and engage with members.

Periscope and Meerkat

How It Works

Both apps allow users to live stream video through their mobile devices so their Twitter or Facebook audience can see what they are recording in real time. In the words of Periscope’s website, the company wants people to be able to “…(discover) the world through someone else’s eyes.”

What It Means For Associations

There is a world of possibilities open to associations through the use of Periscope and Meerkat. The most obvious application for associations is the ability to live stream conferences, networking events or other big get-togethers and educational offerings. However, these events are a big source of non-dues revenue that members pay big money to in order to get exclusive content or access, so providing it all for free might ruffle some feathers. It may be wise to stick to live streaming certain portions of these events, such as the opening ceremonies, award ceremonies or the entertainment on party nights.

Another way associations can use Periscope or Meerkat is to connect members and others in the industry to information that makes the association valuable. For example, a live stream of a big announcement can turn a simple press release into a virtual news conference. The live streaming services can also be used to help members “attend” the Annual General Meeting or get an inside look at a committee meeting.

Blab

How It Works

Blab is like Skype on steroids. Or maybe it’s like a Twitter chat on steroids. Actually, it’s a bit of both. The live video app allows users to sign in with their Twitter credentials and have a video chat with participants. While the video portion only allows for four people to talk at one time (which are chosen by the moderator), there is a live-chat portion that allows for questions, comments and feedback to be posted by others.

What It Means For Associations

Blab has the potential to be the next step in the evolution of Twitter chats. We’ve covered how these online, real time chats can be used by associations, but Blab takes it to the next level. With video, participants don’t need to limit their character count to 140 and can make a more in-depth point on a topic. The app’s popularity rating element, wherein participants in the conversation can give “feels” (a virtual thumbs up if you will) to the video participant they feel is making the best points or has the best content, is a great way for associations to connect eager members to a source of all-important networking. It rewards members who participate, have something good to say and it gives more exposure to their awesome point of view.

Blab is also a great way to have a virtual round table discussion. Round tables are a mainstay on conference programs, but Blab gives associations an option of hosting multiple round table discussions between the large annual events. The added benefit of Blab is that a round table on the app would take the average, in-person round table that is only passive for attendees and turn it into a huge opportunity for engagement. Instead of simply sitting and listening to four people speak, participants can ask questions, provide instant feedback and rate the participants.

Google Hangouts

How It Works

Google Hangouts was one of the first services to break onto the video streaming scene. It allows for live chats using video and typed text for up to 10 people. Users can connect using their computer or mobile device through their Google accounts (Gmail, Google+, etc).

What It Means For Associations

The most useful way associations can use Google Hangouts is to replace smaller seminar sessions or webinars. Many associations plan educational offerings throughout the year to connect members with information on topics that will help them progress in their career or industry. Google Hangouts allows associations to avoid the overhead expenses associated with these seminars, such as renting a meeting space and providing meals to attendees. Recruiting a speaker to give a Google Hangout talk on an important subject is a great way to provide education and generate some non-dues revenue.

Another way associations can use Google Hangouts is to coordinate volunteers. Managing volunteers is especially hard for those organizations that cover a larger geographical area. Google Hangouts allows for the volunteers to connect with one another and talk about their contributions to the association in real time while providing that all-important networking element. This works particularly well if your association is trying to explain visual elements to volunteers, such as where they need to be during an event or what the new website layout looks like so they can give feedback, comments or ideas.

How Social Media Can Make Membership In An Association Into A Lifestyle

When someone becomes a member of an association, it almost always means they are serious about their career and contributing to their industry. But let’s face it, membership can often seem like a feast-or-famine scenario where there is lots of action from the association in a small time frame and then nothing for months. For example, there’s always lots of hype around an association’s annual conference; the lead-up the event itself and the aftermath, but that generally accounts for about three weeks of the year, after which members are left to look far into the distance for the next chance to network, learn and have some fun.

This hurry-up-and-wait mentality can have a negative effect on members of any association. Long stretches without any meaningful involvement in the association can lead to frustration, resentment or, worst of all, apathy. All these reactions result in lower member engagement, lower participation in association services and fewer renewals when it comes time to pay the annual dues.

One of the solutions to this problem of vast peaks and valleys of association activity can be found in social media. By using multiple online platforms, associations can turn membership from a once-every-other-month practice into an everyday habit. When this happens, joining an association becomes a lifestyle, one that members are likely to keep up with for a long, long time. Here are a few ways that your association can turn membership into a lifestyle:

Talk About Your Members’ Interests

Your members don’t live inside a bubble; they have other interests besides talking about their job and their industry. Take an interest in the hobbies and pastimes of your members and talk about it on social media. This doesn’t mean that you need to stray from your association’s main message or mission by talking about the latest hit reality show. Instead, find a way to relate your members’ interests to the services your association provides or the overarching industry your association represents. This will keep your members coming back to your social media accounts and highlight your organization as well-rounded and consistently relevant to the lives of its members.

Finding out what your members are interested in is as easy as accessing Twitter Analytics. The “Followers” tab on Twitter Analytics allows you to examine which general areas your audience (hopefully made up of your members) are interested in. For example, the results may show that your members are really into technology or sports. Tweet a news article that ties one of these areas into your association or post an update on Facebook sharing content that connects your audience with information they might be looking for because of their interests.

Give Practical Advice

It’s human nature to keep coming back to something that gives value. People will always go back to a restaurant that has good food and good service. Individuals will always tune into the radio station that has the best handle on traffic and suggests the most useful alternate routes. And members will always want to engage with your association if it offers the most practical advice they can use in their everyday lives. Providing great tips, advice and how-tos is critical to keeping your members’ attention and ensuring a daily or weekly visit from them. When your association is being useful, your members will make a habit og coming back time and again.

Practical advice from your association can come in two forms: advice about accessing your association’s value and advice that helps your members’ professional development. Providing tips on how to extract the most value from an association’s programs is a great way to tie the everyday concerns of your members into your organization. You can create a fun YouTube tutorial on navigating your association’s website or using the members-only job board more effectively. You can also put together content that touches on your members and how they can do their jobs better. Lists are the best way to do this (people love lists!) and a blog is a perfect platform. For example, you can write about the top five ways to manage stress at your members’ workplaces or the top three institutions for continuing education for your members.

Have Some Fun

Everyone likes a little fun. That’s why we have weekends and holidays and at least two weeks of vacation every year. Just because your association often deals with the professional side of your members doesn’t mean it can’t get in on some of the fun too! Taking a break from serious topics, blatant promotional material and standard-but-important association updates is a key factor in drawing your members to your organization on any day and for any occasion. Incorporating some fun into your activities will means members don’t just see you as a business investment, but a life investment.

The most obvious point to start integrating some fun into your association’s marketing efforts is with social media and gamification. We’ve covered how association’s can use gamification in social media to engage members in a prior blog post, but the message boils down to being creative and focusing on achieving elements of play, such as rewards or mystery, while relating it to your association. Another way to help your members have fun on social media is to post an interesting, funny or motivational quote from someone in the industry on Twitter or Facebook. Additionally, you can write a blog post that combines the aforementioned practical advice with fun elements, such as a list of the top 10 songs your members can work to or the top five movies that depict members of your association’s industry.

Encourage Discussion

Most people life having a say in their lives, which means your association can’t create a lifestyle by never asking for the input of its members. Getting your members engaged and contributing to your association’s activities gives them a stake in the outcome of decisions. Your members will be more likely to attend events or use a service when they feel like they have had a hand in shaping these elements of your association. When members are a part of the process, it becomes more than faceless communiques and throwing money at membership; it becomes part of their life and everyday thoughts.

Social media is the perfect forum for getting your members engaged and contributing to an ongoing discussion about the efforts of your association. Have a Twitter chat about an issue in your industry or association, live-blog/tweet your annual conference, interview members on YouTube and ask for comments on the video or create a “Digital Idea Wall” on Pinterest of Facebook. All of these social media efforts will give a voice to your members and keep them engaged and loyal to your association.

How Associations Can Capitalize on Social Media’s Obsession with Food

The industry built around humankind’s love for food is an unstoppable force. There are whole TV channels dedicated to food, there are whole sections of book stores focused on providing home cooks with inspiration and there’s always new and quirky restaurants popping up to cater to foodies. The craze has, naturally, filtered through to social media where Pinterest is drenched in recipes, Instagram is plastered with food pics and Twitter abounds with restaurant suggestions. But none of this matters if you’re an association. Your mission is to provide education, knowledge, advocacy and professional development to members and this doesn’t really include jumping on the food-obsessive bandwagon, right? Actually, that’s where you’re quite wrong.

Here’s two ways your association can capitalize on social media’s obsession with food and help members at the same time.

Host a “Knowledge Potluck” and Post It to Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram

If you’re looking for a way to spice up your association’s next networking event, mentorship night or Tweetup, try putting a twist on a potluck. Everyone knows that a potluck involves having event attendees bring one item of food each to share with the group. Go right ahead and have your staff, board of directors or even your members bring their best example of cooking, but also ask them to provide something for a “Knowledge Potluck.”

A knowledge potluck works the same way as the ordinary food kind, except that everyone brings one piece of practical advice, one idea or one story that will help their fellow colleagues (and your members) in their careers. These pieces of knowledge can be mounted on a big board in the room or at each person’s food offering. Whatever you decide to do, take photos of the gathered knowledge and post them to Twitter, Instagram or Facebook to share with your other members.

Create a “Recipes for Success” Pinterest Board or Facebook Album

If you took a good look at every person’s account on Pinterest or Facebook, chances are, 90% of them would have a board or a few pictures in an album dedicated to recipes and food. Your association can jump on this trend by creating its own set of recipes, but substitute food for management acumen. Have your staff, board members, award winners, volunteers or members write down their recipe for success, whether it’s a dash of planning, a spoonful of positivity or a heaping amount of financial expertise, and then post them to Pinterest and Facebook.

Not only is this great for boosting engagement (like we said, everyone searches for recipes on Pinterest), it gives your association a chance to highlight members, start conversations between members and provide members with insight into what has made other people successful in their industry.