Associations are in the business of building relationships. Most of the time, these relationships are with members. However, there are plenty of situations in which associations partner with other organizations, be they sponsors, for-profit enterprises or other associations, to take on a project. After all, two (or three or four) heads are better than one.
There is no shortage of logistics to coordinate when two or more organizations get together, but a large part of making any successful initiative is communication, of which social media is a segment. Knowing how to manage the message on any online platform can take a so-so project and make it smashing success. Joint initiatives make it a little trickier as there is more than one voice in the mix. Here are a few tips to help your association smooth out and wrinkles in your social media communications during a collaboration.
The planning process is important for any joint initiative and there is sure to be ample opportunity to discuss a communications strategy with your partners, including how you are going to coordinate social media efforts. Come to meetings prepared to talk about several elements of social media marketing so your association and the other parties are on the same page. The following are some questions to keep in mind as you go through the planning process:
- What platforms do you and your partners plan to use to communicate with stakeholders?
- Will you use separate, existing accounts or create new ones specifically for the joint project?
- What form will the content about the joint effort take on the account(s)? Will you need videos, pictures, stories, links, etc? Will it be serious or more light-hearted?
- How will you track and measure the success of the social media efforts and their impact on the project?
- How often and how long should the content be rolling out on social media? Once a day for a month? Once a week for a year? Somewhere in between?
- What resources (labour, money, infrastructure, etc) will all parties contribute to the effort?
- What information is off-limits and what content can be shared?
After the planning comes the execution of the strategy. Many of the elements that go into a successful social media campaign for a joint project are the same as a regular online marketing strategy; make sure you are posting consistently, the posts are engaging, measuring the results is a priority and responses to questions or feedback is addressed in an appropriate and timely manner. However, there are a few differences you need to be mindful of when coordinating with other organizations:
- Mention your partners whenever it is appropriate to do so. Remember, it’s a partnership, so keep their name on display and they will do likewise.
- Don’t change the voice/style of your social media accounts too much to conform to your partners’ styles. Your audience likes your style for a reason.
- Share information with your partners, including any significant interactions you receive and the numbers behind certain posts and the overall effort.
- If you are not sure about information, the appropriateness of a post or anything else, contact your partners first to have a discussion. Better safe than sorry.
- Keep up to date with what your partners are doing. If a certain method they are using is successful or there is an opportunity to collaborate or improve the message, it’s a necessity that you take it.
- Stick to the plan you agreed on during the planning process. Don’t go too far off-script and if you do, consult with your partners about your ideas and motives.
There is still work to be done when the collaboration between your association and other organizations comes to an end. Just because a campaign, contest, sponsorship, event or other project finishes doesn’t mean there isn’t some legwork to be done. The formal conclusion of the partnership can often dictate whether or not organizations want to ally themselves with you in the future, which makes this step just as crucial as the planning and execution stages. Here are some tips for giving the joint initiative a fairytale ending:
- Thank your partners on social media. Mention them in a tweet, Facebook post or short video or tell your story in a blog post or longer video. A little recognition goes a long way.
- Do a full-scale analysis of the numbers and social media’s impact on the initiative. Send the numbers to your partner organizations and ask them for their numbers and analysis.
- If you created a new social media account for the joint project, make sure to either dismantle it or develop a sustainability plan to keep it successful in its continued existence.
- Give your social media audience a recap of the project and its successes, including an last details, which individuals to thank, the outcomes and the next steps.
- Continue to monitor the social media accounts of your partners to generate content ideas, develop your audience acquisition strategy and cement the relationship between your association and helpful allies.