A Marketer’s Guide to What Facebook’s Newest Feature Could Look Like

Facebook’s ‘like’ button has inserted itself into everyday language and become synonymous with social media itself. For years, there has been a clamouring for a ‘dislike’ button to appear as an option as well and it seems like Facebook users are going to get what they want. Well, get what they want in a kind-of-sort-of-not-really-but-almost type of way.

Facebook creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that the team at Facebook has been working to create a new feature that will let users express how they feel about a post in new ways. No one is quite sure what exactly this new feature will look like, but it is certain to change the way people use Facebook forever.

These developments beg the question, how is this new feature going to impact the way companies and organizations use Facebook? The short answer is, we don’t know. Without knowing what the feature looks like, and what it will allow users to express, no one can predict how it will change the way marketers draw attention to their organizations or causes. However, we can look to a few sources to predict what this new feature might look like and its influence on businesses, associations, non-profits, etc.

The first thing we need to think about is what the feature would look like. Zuckerberg has said that the feature would help users express their feelings toward a post in new ways and he specifically mentioned empathy. For example, if a tragedy occurs and someone posts about it, the Facebook CEO wants users to be able to express sympathy or empathy towards it, something a ‘like’ doesn’t convey. Zuckerberg ruled out a ‘dislike’ button as a solution, but there are a couple other likely ways Facebook can give users a better way to express emotions on the fly.

The first would be quite simple and play on the popularity of emojis and emoticons, those digital icons of smiling faces, cute cats or random eggplants that are popular with the iPhone crowd. Alongside the ‘like’ button on posts, there could be heart icon or a similar emoji to symbolize love or empathy. Instead of 26 likes on a tragic post, you would get 26 ‘hearts’ perhaps.

The other theoretical option for the new feature would have Facebook take inspiration from Buzzfeed, one of the most popular websites around with a knack for posting viral content. Buzzfeed has a rating system that allows visitors to tag articles as ‘lol’ if it’s funny or ‘cute’ if it’s, well, cute or a variety of other rankings. Facebook could adopt a similar format that allows users to flag a post as one of these emotions, such as sad, funny, cute or useful.

When examining the impact of these two options on Facebook marketers, the first option will not impact businesses or organizations too much. There aren’t many occasions when small businesses or associations would post about tragedy or sad topics, but when they do, this new feature will allow their followers to react accordingly.

If the second option is instituted, it will certainly be interesting to see how organizations use an emotional rating system to increase views and engagement on their content. For example, organizations may tend toward creating and sharing more Buzzfeed-like content, which is made up of gif-based lists and viral videos (although they have great long-form journalism that is often forgotten or barely mentioned), in an attempt to get more ‘lol’ or ‘cute’ ratings.

Whatever the case may be, there is one certainty for organizations and their marketing departments that will come with a new Facebook feature alongside the ‘like’; it will give them more data to work with. Giving users another way to express emotion allows both Facebook and its users to get a better handle on how people respond to different content. Organizations and businesses can take this new set of data and format their marketing around it. Marketers will be able to get a better sense of which type of data preforms best and which demographics to target. More of any type of data can only be a good thing for organizations using Facebook, so keep an eye on the social media platform and watch for the mysterious new feature!

Three Ways Associations Can Increase Value for Sponsors Through Social Media

For some associations, sponsors are everything. The generous donations they provide allow for conferences to have robust educational offerings, the creation of scholarship programs for student members, quality publications to be printed consistently and countless other initiatives to be implemented. So it goes without saying that associations need to provide value to the sponsors for their investment.

If you’re looking to provide increased value to sponsors, ensure their loyalty and draw in new sponsors, social media is the place to start. By telling stories about a sponsor’s contribution, you are giving them more exposure to your association’s members, industry stakeholders and the public, broadening their reach and encouraging others to interact with their brand. Here are a few ways engaging ways to tell your sponsors’ stories on social media and create a win/win situation.

An Infographic

Take a program, service, event or product that is sponsored, break it down by the numbers and then present those numbers in a visually appealing way. At the end of this exercise, you’ll have an infographic that depicts your sponsor’s story. For example, if your association’s conference education sessions are sponsored by a certain company, crunch some stats, make them relevant to your members and create an infographic that illustrates the importance of the sessions to your audience.

Make sure to include the sponsor’s logo and name and their role in providing this benefit at various points in the infographic, including in the title, at the bottom of each page and perhaps even in the colours you use as the background. Publish the infographic to your association’s blog and share it on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and any other social media accounts you have.

A Hashtag

Creating a hashtag is a great way to create a community and engagement around a certain issue, initiative or event. If you and your association want to generate some buzz around a sponsored event or ongoing program, develop a hashtag and tack it on to any social media promotion you send out. Post about logistical details, fun facts surrounding the event/initiative, articles about it or, better yet, the live coverage of the project or program.

Include the sponsor’s name in the hashtag and include the hashtag in any posts about the initiative, including responses to questions or feedback on posts. The upside of including your sponsor’s name in the hashtag is that it keeps the sponsor’s name in front of a key audience and includes the sponsor in any conversation surrounding the event, connecting the company directly with an engaged audience.

A Contest

Everyone likes a good social media contest; after all, it’s easy, quick and the return on investment is usually fairly high for those who enter. Make a social media contest part of a sponsored event/program/project for your association. Have members post their best picture of the event or say why they love using a sponsored service or even have them share a link to the sponsored project for their chance to win. This increases engagement and increases exposure of the event/project, the sponsor and the association.

Remember that hashtag we talked about in the last section? Use it during your contest and make it a requirement for contestants to use it as well. Add the sponsor’s name and logo to any links or promotional material surrounding the contest and, if the sponsor provides the prize, make this known as well. This keeps the sponsor’s name in front of a target audience and engages individuals who may not have been engaged otherwise.

Social Media Lessons From The Major League Baseball Playoffs

The Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs started last week and it has provided baseball fans with some great moments so far. From sudden-death games to amazing plays and pictures of stadium-goers cheering their hearts out for their teams, there is excitement everywhere one looks.

So, why can’t it be the same for your organization’s social media and its target audience? You might not get people painting their faces with your logo (although one can dream), but the MLB playoffs can teach us a thing or two about engaging your audience and creating a special feeling around the activities of your organization, whether it’s an association, a non-profit or a small business. Here are just a few of those lessons:

Put It All On The Line

There’s no moment that is more exciting in professional sports than a do-or-die elimination game, a game when the loser goes home to contemplate what might have been and the winner moves on to pursue further glory. In the MLB playoffs, this do-or-die moment happens immediately with a one-game play-in game where the winner moves into the second round of the playoffs. Every baseball fan is glued to their TV sets to see which team will triumph and live another day.

There’s lots for organizations can learn about social media from this winner-take-all format. Primarily, it teaches us all that creating a sense of immediacy builds excitement and engagement in an audience. These kind of one-day, deadline-reaching moments happen in almost all industries, whether it’s a membership dues deadline, the last day to register for a conference, the last day of a big sale or the last day a product is available. It’s your job to capture this down-to-the-wire feeling on social media and have people be invested in the outcome. Make things a race, tell them how high the stakes are and make sure they know that they will share in the glory if things are successful (which they will be if they meet the deadline!).

Always Be Flexible

There was a moment in the seventh inning of Sunday’s Blue Jay-Rangers playoff game when the Blue Jays’ best pitcher was warming up, getting ready to replace the current pitcher if he needed to. This is highly unusual and would make the best pitcher unavailable to start the next game. But, it was a do-or-die situation for the Jays and they needed to throw convention out the window in order to succeed. Flexibility is key to managing a playoff team to victory.

The same thing goes for social media management; flexibility is crucial. It’s always important to have a plan for your social media accounts and stick to it. You need to know what kind of content to post and when and how you are going to respond to people in a variety of circumstances. However, there will come a time when the unexpected happens and you need to change up your social media plans. A natural disaster may affect your audience or your local community or new legislation may pass that changes the way your audience goes about its life or its business. Whatever the scenario, you need to be ready to deviate from your planned course and address the situation at hand. If you don’t already, have a general outline of how to manage your social media accounts in the event of a natural disaster, bad news, heavy criticism, etc.

Create A Sense of Pride

It was an awe-inspiring sight to see 50,000 Blue Jays fans all waving white towels during the team’s first home playoff game in 22 years. They were joined by million of people across the country all cheering on the nation’s only MLB team. An entire nation was on their side and it created a welling of pride from coast to coast that is often reserved for the Olympics. Everyone from pre-school children to 90-year-old great grandparents were engaged and excited to follow along with the team’s triumphs or failures.

The scenario above is what every social media manager dreams of and it would do them good to take a page from the MLB playoffs when trying to make this dream a reality. When managing a social media account, it is necessary to do more than just promote your brand and sell your products; you need to promote your audience’s part in all of that. You need to make your audience feel like they contribute to the success of the organization and have a part in guiding it on its path to triumph. Ask for feedback on social media, profile members or customers, don’t be robotic or scripted with responses; take the time to learn about the engaged members of your community and encourage them to keep participating. And, as always, make sure your audience knows that it will share in any success your organization achieves!

How to Create a Twitter Progress Report for Your Association

The association business is all about getting results. Executive directors and board of directors are constantly trying to figure out how many new members have been recruited, how many have been retained, how much non-dues revenue was generated, how often certain services are being used, and on and on.

It’s no different for an association’s use of social media. Those who run member organizations will always want to know if its social media efforts are yielding results and to what extent. We’ve gone in-depth into the myriad of statistics association professionals can use to determine the effectiveness of Twitter, Facebook and blogs, so we’ll leave that for now, but it’s also very important to present these statistics effectively. That’s why knowing how to create a regular progress report for your organization’s social media channels is crucial.

Below, we’ve put together a template for association professionals looking to create a monthly or quarterly report for their Twitter account. The template examines four main areas of a typical report. So, without further ado, here is how to create a Twitter progress report:

The Numbers

This part of the report is all about gathering and condensing the key statistics that your association’s Twitter account has generated. This can include anything from the amount of followers gained to the number of retweets received or even the number of profile clicks garnered during the time period you are analyzing. This section is all about the raw numbers and is great for seeing the big-picture results of your organization’s Twitter efforts.

If you are wondering which numbers to look at and include in this section of the report, here are a few we always find helpful: Followers gained, retweets, favourites, mentions/replies, URL clicks, total number of interactions, total number of impressions and average engagement rate. This section is also a chance to calculate and post preliminary ROI numbers, such as the average cost-per-impression.

You can access all these numbers through Twitter Analytics (general statistics for each tweet on an Excel spread sheet) or Bit.ly (used for tracking the performance of links posted to social media).

Significant Tweets and Interactions

This section of the Twitter report examines the tweets that generated the most attention or received high-quality interactions during the time period examined. This part of the report can be broken into two sub-sections: tweets with the highest quantity and tweets with the highest quality.

The first step is to review the tweets with the highest number of interactions and engagement. Using Twitter Analytics, review the tweets that generated the most retweets, the most favourites, the highest engagement rate, etc. It is always best to post the number of interactions these tweets receive as well as a screen shot of the tweet with a date and time. This is useful later for determining several factors related to the success of future posts that will be examined in the fourth section of the report.

The second step is to review the tweets with the highest quality of engagement. This part of the report highlights three to five tweets that did exceptionally well in all areas of engagement and provided value to the association through important interactions. The term ‘highest quality’ is very subjective; what may qualify as very valuable piece of engagement for one association may not be valuable at all for another association. There are, however, some guidelines that may be useful when creating this part of the report.

Look for tweets that had an above-average number of impressions or total interactions and also had a decent-to-above-average engagement rate. You can also examine the quality of engagement. For example, if an influential member who has a wide range of followers retweeted one of your posts, this is more valuable than if someone vaguely connected with your industry retweets it.

Again, screen shot the highlighted tweets to provide a visual representation of your association’s Twitter efforts and to use for fine-tuning your social media strategy. Explain in two to five sentences why each tweet was significant.

New Follower Demographics

This part of the report analyzes the new followers that your association’s Twitter account gained over the time period examined and places them into demographic categories. This section is important in determining if your organization’s Twitter account is reaching its target audience and how much the account’s audience is growing in general.

The first step to creating this section is to determine your association’s key influencers, or, in other words, your association’s target demographics. These different demographic segments can include industry professionals, member of the media in the industry, other industry-related organizations, business members, etc. You can get as specific or as broad as you’d like. The remaining followers can be separated into two other groups; Other Organizations and Other Individuals. These are often your spam accounts or followers that get very little value from your efforts and, in turn, your association received very little value from them.

The next step in creating this section is collecting the numbers. Go through the followers your account gained in the time period you are examining and place each of them into their corresponding audience segment. After you are finished, create a chart that makes a visual representation of each audience segment, how many new followers fall into each, the names/Twitter handles of each new follower and the percentage of new followers each demographic segment makes up.

At the end of this process, you will have a better idea of how effective your account is at connecting with your association’s target audience. For example, if you find that 50 per cent of your new followers in the last month were industry professionals and 20 per cent were industry-related media members, you are doing well. However, if 70 per cent are random individuals or organizations, you will have to develop strategies for reaching out to Twitter users who fit into your target audience.

Final Analysis and Goal Setting

This is the penultimate section of the report in which you must take all the raw numbers you have gathered and use them to analyze how well the Twitter has done while also charting the account’s course for months to come. Again, the information you include in this section varies greatly depending on the priorly-defined goals of the association and the account as well as the resources invested into your social media efforts, but there are some general topics you can hone in on to make this final analysis effective.

One approach to this final analysis is to examine the return on investment that you captured for your association through Twitter during the time period you are looking at. You can take a closer look at which tweets produced the best results and conclude the reason behind their success. You can also compare the return on investment metrics (such as cost-per-interaction or cost-per-follower) to past reports to determine the rate of growth of the Twitter account.

Another approach to this section is to look at the success of your association’s original content on Twitter and the platform’s ability to drive traffic to key parts of your association’s website. For example, if your association is pushing for more attendees at its annual conference, you can examine and analyze the performance of tweets related to the conference. Are they receiving a high quantity and quality of interactions? Are they generating enough clicks on links to the registration page of the association website? These are the areas you can look at to determine the effectiveness of the Twitter account and its usefulness to the association’s goals.

Lastly, you should present goals and recommendations for the association’s Twitter account in this section of the report. After analyzing the numbers, it is always a good idea to fine-tune the association’s Twitter strategy moving forward. This is when you look at the numbers and determine if tweeting on a certain day of the week or during a certain window of time generates more engagement. This is also when you can decide to reach out to more members of your target audience or develop strategies to generate more traffic to your association’s website. Whatever your analysis is, create clear, quantifiable goals and strategies for attaining them.