What Facebook’s Newest Features Mean For Associations

Facebook had the whole internet talking last week with the arrival of the social network’s latest feature, which was the addition of new “reactions” to supplement the iconic ‘like’ button. Now, users can also hit buttons signifying love, a laugh, surprise, sadness and anger.

So, what does this mean for the way marketers create and post content, especially for those working in the association industry? Well, the short answer is, not much. There will be no seismic shift in the way associations post on Facebook because of this expansion of emotional expression. Organizations will continue to post the same content they always have with the same goals. However, the impact of this content is definitely going to change.

More Data

Data is the name of the game for associations. They must adapt to provide for the wants and needs of a very niche market (their members). Knowing exactly what these value propositions are, as well as how to provide them, requires data. The new reactions featured on Facebook allow associations to collect more data on the thoughts and feelings of their target audience by examining how they feel about certain issues on a higher level. By collecting this data, association can use the numbers to determine the best course of action to take in others areas of their operation.

This calls for an example. An association may post many articles, blog posts, etc on a variety of topics across several months. When it comes time to build a roster of speakers and topics for a conference, a webinar series, certification courses or even content ideas for a magazine and other publications, the broad range of data that the new Facebook reactions provide can help strengthen the association’s efforts. Examining what members thought of each piece of content posted on Facebook, and going beyond the basic ‘like’, can provide the association with a better understanding of what members found valuable, surprising or in need of further explanation. These numbers are part of a wider base of member insights that can lead the association to more valuable offerings.

Better Reach

Getting to know your members better is an admirable quality in an association, but social media also has the ability to extend your organization’s reach, drawing attention to both its general mission and value, as well as to specific areas of interest and engagement for members. In short, social media can let the world know more about your association than it might otherwise know because of its accessibility and exposure factor.

If an extended reach is the goal, then, the new Facebook reactions can help you achieve this goal. The ‘like’ button was a great way for members to engage in an association’s content, one that helped splash your organization’s name further and wider, but it wasn’t appropriate for all circumstances. For example, when posting about the death of a long-time member or a new law that might hinder your members, the ‘like’ button is not an adequate way to respond. This led to less interaction/engagement and a decreased reach. However, now that your members can express a broader range of emotions, they are more likely to interact with a variety of different posts on different topics. An interaction, such as a sad or angry reaction, will have your post circulating to more Facebook feeds and thus, being seen by more people.

Why Mobile Apps Work And What It Has To Do With Social Media

App-mania is a real thing. Smart phone users can (metaphorically speaking) walk into their app store on their phone and choose from over 1.5 million useful items to download and make their life easier, provide hours of fun and make information more accessible.

However, creating a successful app isn’t as easy at those numbers make it sound, especially for associations and non-profit groups. Consider, for a moment, the process of downloading a mobile app. Your audience must have a need or a desire to go into the app store, find the app, download it and use it regularly. If they do not go through this process, the app (and the price tag associated with it) is a big waste. That’s why an app must provide something more than what is available to your audience on your organization’s website.

But what is this ‘something more?’ There are many elements that make apps successful; gamification, connecting to information or people easier and financial motivations are just some of these elements. We can also get a better idea of what associations can include in a potential app from looking at social media and its allure.

Studies have shown that social media can be as addictive as some other vices, such as gambling and caffeine. The reason social media draws people is the element of notifications. When you receive a like on your Facebook status, a retweet of your witty Twitter post or that coveted double tab on your Instagram picture, your brain receives a little hit of dopamine. There’s a whole science behind what dopamine does to you, but we’ll cut to the chase; it makes you feel good. As we experience this feeling, we become more likely to seek it out as well as its cause. In social media’s case, the cause of the feeling is a notification. We post more, we spend more time on tweets and we obsess over the perfect filter for an Instagram photo so people will like it. In short, as we receive more notifications, we spend more time and find more value in social media.

There’s obviously power in notifications and this can help your association develop a successful mobile app. When thinking about what features to add to an app, think about their potential to notify users. For example, your association’s app could have a scheduling element so members can plan for networking events, conferences, workshops and the like. The app could send a little notification when an event in their area in coming up. Or, members can work towards becoming an ‘Association Champion’ through several tasks on the app. The app would send a little ‘ping’ when a new opportunity arises to score points, when they’ve reached a new level in their pursuit of being a champion or if someone likes their most recent accomplishments.

Adding the notification element to a mobile app doesn’t guarantee its success, but it creates that rush of excitement and accomplishment in users that will keep them engaged and coming back again and again. When members are frequently using your app, it opens up a world of possibilities. They are more likely to pay attention to promotions or marketing messages through your app, sponsors are more likely place ads when they know people are looking and members will link your association to increased value. This means more exposure, more revenue and happier, more loyal members.

So, if your association is building a mobile app or considering one, make sure to brainstorm some ways it can incorporate notifications into its design and use. It will be well worth the mental exercise it takes to develop these ideas.

5 Examples Of How Associations Can Use Social Media To Recruit And Retain Members

Less than two weeks ago, Incline Marketing’s president Marc Cousineau presented at the Canadian Society of Association Executives, Trillium Chapter’s Winter Summit conference. Part of the talk centred around integrating social media into an association’s member recruitment and retention efforts.

The basis of the presentation was that there are different segments within the larger member demographic and each segment values something different that your association can provide. Social media is an important tool your organization can use to highlight this value to current and potential members, no matter their type.

Although there are dozens of different kinds of members at each association, the discussion at the Winter Summit focused on five key member demographics; the loyal member, the lapsed member, the never-been-a-member member, the new-to-the-industry member and the service provider member. The talk went through each member group and illustrated the ways in which social media can unmask the value an association can deliver to each group, thereby boosting the recruitment/retention efforts.

The following are examples of social media content that can be used by association to attract each of the aforementioned membership groups based on what they value most.

The Loyal Member

The Loyal Member is the kind of individual who renews their membership year in and year out, participates in association activities and is a champion for your organization. They are most likely a veteran of the industry their in and have moved up the career ladder. The value they see in your association probably firmly rests in the relationships they have built as a member and attaining high-level education that matches their lofty career status.

Loyal Member 1

Loyal Member 2

Above is an example of how your association can use a regular blog post to address the Loyal Member’s desire to receive education and information that helps them in their high-level career role. A blog allows your association to pinpoint issues that matter most to different members and create useful content around these issues. There is also an accompanying tweet that highlights the work of the association, broadens the reach of your blog and drives traffic to your website.

The Lapsed Member

There are a variety of reasons that someone may become a Lapsed Member; a reduced budget with no room for dues, a bad customer service experience or the big one, a perceived lack of value from joining the association. Sometimes members believe that the investment was not worth the outcome and therefore choose not to renew. Social media can help them rethink this stance.

Lapsed Member 1

Lapsed Member 2

The video and accompanying tweet are all about showing members how to maximize value. Using the example of a conference, the short video is a piece of content your association can create to explain how attendees/members can achieve the greatest return on their investment while highlighting some aspects of the event people may not know about. Creating various types of content like this one across multiple platforms makes it possible for a greater number of members to experience all the value they can get from your association and making it more likely they realize a return that they believe is worth renewing their dues for.

The Never-Been-A-Member Member

These individuals are very similar to the lapsed member, save for one difference; they never even gave your association a chance. These are the people who have never been members for as long as they’ve been in the industry. This can be for a variety of reasons, such as letting negative reviews from others influence their dismissal of the association, but the most common being once again that they perceive a lack of value from joining. Social media can come to the rescue in this situation.

Never Been A Member 1

Never Been A Member 2

If you are familiar with the Humans of New York Facebook page, you will recognize this strategy and how it can be used by associations (if you’re not familiar with HONY, definitely check it out!). The Facebook album with small profiles of members talking about the value they have received from being an association member can be helpful in several ways. The most important is that it communicates to non-members the pay-offs of being a member from a perspective they can trust and relate to. It places the audience in a setting they are familiar with and used images and quotes to directly address issues they find important, placing your association as a solution to the challenges or problems of their career.

The New-To-The-Industry Member

These individuals are most likely young professionals, fresh-faced and just out of school, or those who have made a career change. They are trying to decide whether to join your association or not and the choice they make now will likely set them on a path for the rest of their careers. That is why it is important to use your association’s resources, of which social media is an important part, to show them the value of membership and build a lasting relationship.

New to Industry Member 1

The infographic above is the kind of visual content that can be posted to multiple platforms, like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and a blog, making it the perfect type to reach the most people. It illustrates the ways in which your association can help those new to the industry develop their career and get ahead. It uses data and numbers in a visual way to show them step by step what your association offers that other paths do not. It gets specific and helps the potential member view the association in a way that allows them to maximize its value and get the most return for their investment.

The Service Provide/Business Member

This type of member are those who offer services or products to your other member groups, such as exhibitors, vendors, large companies, small businesses and the like. It’s all about dollars and cents for these members. Yes, they do appreciate the ability to keep on top of industry trends that membership affords them, but being a member of an association is all about the exposure, networking and business opportunities it presents them. Social media can show these individuals that they are better off staying or becoming a member than going out on their own to achieve the same goal.

Business Member 1

The above image is a mock up of a Pinterest board that creates an online ‘Marketplace’ connecting business members with your association’s other members. It acts much the same way as a hard copy source guide or directory. Business members get a place on the board, a picture and a description. Members can then log on and click on a service provider they are interested in, which would direct them to the business member’s website. The allure for business members is a year-round, easily accessible area through which they gain exposure to other members. Additionally, they get traffic directed to their site and increased opportunities to convert leads into sales.

Three More Ways To Use Pinterest As An Association

While the Pinterest boom has quieted down from its peak a year or two ago, the social media platform remains a hugely popular place to get information, garner ideas and drive traffic. However, Pinterest can also be an enigma wrapped in a riddle for associations trying to take advantage of its popularity. We’ve gone through some ways organizations can use Pinterest in the past, but here are a few ways your association can solve the puzzle and capture even more member engagement.

A Pinterest Marketplace

This Pinterest board idea is like an Oprah give away because your association gets to say something along the lines of, “Your get a benefit, and you get a benefit, everyone gets a benefit!”

Let us explain. Associations generally provide their members and service providers/sponsors with a few connection points throughout a typical year. This can come in the form of a printed source guide, a trade show or a business member meet and greet. But what if your organization could provide a year-round marketplace where members and the people who provided services to your members could connect? This is what a Pinterest Marketplace could do. Each pin would highlight a different business member of your association, give a short bio and a click would send people to their websites. Space on the board would be restricted to members only. Sponsors can even get prime position at the top of the board.

This board would provide business members with more incentive to join the association as they get prime, year-round access to leads and clients while getting more traffic to their websites. It also gives members easy access to services they need and can be a potential revenue stream for your association.

A Pinterest Magazine Stand

Spreading content across multiple platforms in the only way to go in today’s world, which is my the print-only trade publication is quickly going the way of the dinosaurs. Why not add one more way to market your association’s magazine and all the great elements contained within with Pinterest.

Create a Pinterest board on which your association’s magazine articles are represented as individual pins. The headlines can serve as captions and a click would send people to the article they want. It would also be a good idea to think long and hard about the image associated with each article/pin. If there is a strong image attached to the article and its content, that’s great. If not, consider creating a stronger image that will make your members want to click on it. Numbers, lists and people your members know are much more powerful than a bland stock image.

There are multiple advantages of putting your magazine on Pinterest. The most obvious is that your members will have one more place to access the information, education and value provided by the association. It will also make it easier for them to access past versions of the magazine as they won’t need to go looking through multiple issues in person or online. Lastly, it will strengthen your pitch to potential advertisers as it is one more way to drive traffic to their ads.

A Pinterest Board Featuring New Technology

When Apple is coming out with a new version of the iPhone every quarter, it’s obvious that we live in a society obsessed with the latest and greatest technology. Appeal to this need/want with a tech-focused Pinterest board.

This Pinterest board would require you to keep in the loop about the newest technology that your association’s members might want or use to make their lives and careers better. Is there a new app available that will help them save money? Pin it. Is there a new social platform that can help them in their marketing or communications efforts? Pin it. Is there wearable tech that can make their work/life balance more equal? Get it up on the board! You can pin articles or even links to where members can buy technology or go a step further and write a weekly or monthly tech update blog post that can be pinned as well.

Again, this tech-focused board offers members and your association many benefits. It lets members know that you are on the cutting edge of the industry and able to share information that can members in the here and now as well as in the long-term. Like we alluded to before, people are crazy about keeping up with tech developments, so don’t be surprised if this is your most popular Pinterest board. The good news is, this traffic is more likely to filter out across your other board, strengthening and multiplying the returns in other areas.

4 Ideas For Promoting Your Association’s Conference On YouTube

Your association’s conference is a big deal. YouTube is an often under-appreciated social marketing tool for organizations. When you combine these two, they create a promotional machine that is greater than the sum of it parts. Here are just a few ways your association can use YouTube to draw more attendees and increase engagement prior to your conference.

Highlight Your Event’s Hidden Gems

Hidden gems; every conference has them. These are the smaller programs, initiatives, offerings or elements of an event that associations add to the schedule in droves, but never quite get the same play in promotional material as the bigger features. It may be a job board beside the registration desk or a special networking lounge or free books or any other under appreciated feature.

Create a video explaining these smaller perks that attendees can expect to get at the conference. Videos are more engaging than blocks of text on your conference or association website as they give attendees a visual look at what you are trying to promote. Grouping all these hidden gems together into one presentation will help elevate the event from just an ordinary “meat and potatoes” conference to a high-calibre, world-class opportunity that people will not want to miss. It highlights added value and helps attendees extract maximum return on investment.

Interview A Past Attendee

You can tell your audience your association’s conference is great until you’re blue in the face, but some people will just end up seeing you as a sort of used car salesman; only interested in separating them from their money. Hearing about the benefits of a conference from someone your members trust and can relate to is much more effective in drawing their attention and boosting attendance.

Creating this of video requires you to find a certain type of member/attendee. They have to be relatable, respected among their colleagues, been attending the event for several years and want to be vocal about their beneficial experience with the conference. Once you have found this ambassador, create a video based on an interview you had with them about their experience with the conference. Ask them about the benefits, the practicality of the programming, the networking advantages and so on. Hearing it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak, will convince some skeptical members to give the conference a try.

Create A Video Scavenger Hunt

Every likes a good game and that is why gamification has become such a gigantic part of events and online marketing. A scavenger hunt is one way to leverage people’s love of mystery, reward and challenge to get them excited about your conference. One of the best parts about a scavenger hunt is that the clues can come slowly and over time, keeping the conference on your audience’s mind over a long period.

This is one idea that you can be very creative with, but one way a conference-focused video scavenger hunt could be created is to unveil new clues once a week for 3-6 weeks leading to the conference. The totality of the clues could lead to attendees finding a specific object or person at the conference, which would give them a chance to win a prize, maybe even free attendance at next year’s event. Not only does this capitalize on almost everyone’s love of games, but it establishes a series of frequent connections between your audience, your association and the conference, which increases engagement, visibility and a buzz that others will want to be part of.

Make A Trailer For Your Conference

Movie trailers are watched millions of time on YouTube, discussed, analyzed and create an overload of anticipation. Now think about what all that could mean for your conference; to have people talking about it, interacting with it and anticipating it before it happened. A trailer for your conference will tell your members what the event is all about in a fun, engaging way while highlighting key elements that will make people for likely to attend.

Creating a trailer for your conference would involve following the tried and true formula for the traditional movie trailer. It would include offering a plot, giving a glimpse of the people involved would leave a bit of mystery and anticipation with you at the end. Include speakers, attendees and staff in the video. If people see someone they know or recognize a speaker for their expertise, they will get excited about the prospect of hearing them speak. Talk about the programming and what attendees can expect, but leave a small cliffhanger in the video. All this adds up to a novel experience for your audience that they will want to be part of.