How To Get Members To Engage With Your Association’s Social Media Account More Than Once

Any business, whether its Starbucks, Apple or a small, regional association, relies on the repeat customer. These are the people who come back again and again, the loyal few who, as a member organization, make up the foundation of your association’s success.

The same concept of building loyalty applies not just to the overall mission of an organization, but to the individual parts of the organization as well. When we look at social media, building engagement on your association’s accounts is the first step in making your online efforts successful, but generating that engagement over and over again is the key to a sustainable and impactful online presence.

Here are three ways associations can endear themselves to members so they will engage with its social media accounts more than once:

Respond And Be Fun About It

Nothing kills the buzz of engaging with an organization on social media like not getting a response. When your association doesn’t recognize an attempt at an interaction from a member, it tells that person they are not important enough to engage with. If they made to feel like they’ve been relegated to an afterthought, members are unlikely to try to engage with your association again.

Respond to any engagement (unless of course it is troll-like in nature, in which case, ignoring the obvious bait is recommended). This can be as simple as a liking a common or retweeting a member’s post that mentions your association. This is a good first step, but if you really want to get members in the mood to talk to you again, go that extra mile. Tweet an actual response. Say thank you or ask a follow up question. Be fun with your response. Be witty or add a pun to your response. If being clever isn’t your forte, add a picture or a GIF when responding. Members will appreciate the time and effort you put in and will be more likely to engage with you again.

Keep Your Finger On The Pulse

Think about this for a second; the liveliest conversations you have at the dinner table, bar or coffee shop are probably about topics you find most interesting or affect your life the most. This seems fairly obvious, but it’s an often overlooked cornerstone of generating return engagement on social media. When you post content or get into discussions about the most relevant and interesting topics for your members, they are more likely to come back time and again to talk to you about these topics.

The key in keeping your finger on the pulse of your member’s most talked about topics is to do your watch and listen. Spend some time looking at what your members post about, what topics produce the longest conversations online, what questions are being asked on forums like LinkedIn, what members are blogging about and what issues keep popping up in offline discussions. Once you have gathered this information, you can develop content that speaks to the needs, wants and interests of your members a lot better than throwing out a wide variety of content and hoping it appeals to your audience.

Spread The Love

If people get a better-than-expected return on investment from something, they usually tend to keep investing in that thing. The same holds true to social interaction. When a member engages with your association on social media, they probably expect a response and maybe some helpful advice or a friendly follow up. When your association goes a step further, it can mean a big difference in getting that member, and many more, to keep the conversation with your organization going.

The best way to reward those members who engage with your association beyond expectations is to spread the interaction past the single point of engagement. For example, give a shout out to the member who engages online with your association the most every week through your various platforms. Have a space on your website, newsletter and magazine where you republish the best interactions with your members from social media. Share their interactions for all to see and give a friendly word to them while you’re doing it. All of this helps shine the spotlight on a member and makes them feel special, which increases the odds that they will return to engage with your association more than just the once.

Why Managing Social Media For An Association Is The Best, As Told By The Office

The life of a social media manager is fun enough, but when you combine it with the make-a-difference mindset of the association industry, it’s quite the amazing ride. If you’re not familiar with the feeling, we put together a comprehensive guide to the smile-inducing moments of the job as told by the wacky, quirky, fun-loving people from the hit TV show The Office.

When you log onto the social media account and find some unsolicited praise from a member…

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It’s always a huge boost to both the association and team morale when a member says something nice about the organization without a prompt or for any reason at all. It’s also a great way to know what services and products members find valuable, which is data that is often intangible and hard to collect.

When a piece of content, trending topic or holiday fits perfectly with the association’s message and mission…

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Nothing beats finding out that it’s National Donut Day when you’re running the Twitter feed for a National bakers association or when you come across a profile of a member in the local paper. It’s like that moment when the sun breaks through on a cloudy day and everything is good and easy.

When you get to turn press releases and hum-drum announcements into something creative and engaging…

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Yes, association business is a serious gig, but the world of social media necessitates that you relax a little sometimes and think outside of the box. It’s always fun to turn an announcement about the location of a conference or the new Board of Directors into a something fun for members.

When you get to dip your toes into all areas of the association’s operation…

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Social media managers have to wear many hats (or wigs!) and get to experience all facets of the association in order to communicate the right message to membership. Everything from event planning to member recruitment is within a social media manager’s scope.

When you answer a member’s question on social media or post something that helps a member do their job better…

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It’s a great feeling when your association’s Twitter account or Facebook page becomes the go-to resource for information about the organization, membership or industry best practices. It’s always awesome to provide value and have that value shared with others.

When you get to see the immediate impact of an announcement or piece of information from members…

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Social media management is an almost 24/7 job. There are no office hours or a limit on when people can engage with your account. So, whether day or night, seeing how members react to various communiques from the association can be rewarding, interesting and exhilarating!

When you realize just how much fun it is to make a difference in someone’s life…

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The life of an association social media manager isn’t without it down days when you receive online criticism or a lack of engagement, but it’s all worth it for the moments when members’ lives are made a little easier, a little better or a little more fun by your posts.

A Step-By-Step Guide To Creating A Social Media Playbook For Your Organization

All sort of problems can arise for your organization when creating a social media strategy and following through on it when you do not first build an online marketing playbook. A playbook will cover everything from what your association’s or non-profit’s goal is on social media to how to handle criticism and what do to in a crisis.

We’ve put together a few tips to help you get started on drafting a playbook for your organization that will boost your efforts and prevent some fairly large headaches down the road.

Goals

Your organization’s social media efforts are never going to accomplish much if you don’t have a goal in mind. You need to state clear goals and outline what exactly your organization’s social media accounts were created to achieve. This is includes short and long-term goals.

For example, your association’s short-term goal could be to drive more traffic to key parts of the website through its social media accounts. It’s long-term goal could be to provide relevant information to members that will foster professional development.

Stating these goals and having them officially written down will help you to stay focused and avoid wasting time and other resources. It will also help you to measure the impact of your efforts against the stated goals and gauge what needs to be done to improve.

Expectations

Once you have stated your goals, you must now write down what is expected of the person or people who are managing the accounts. Create a list of expectations for the position, including the frequency of posting, who is in charge of certain aspects, what the reporting cycle is going to be and other such procedural concerns.

Writing out clear expectations will help define roles and eliminate confusion at your organization. When people are knowledgeable about their role with the organization’s social media, they can contribute in meaningful ways that push the organization forward instead of creating redundancies.

For example; you should make it clear that one tweet must go out every day or a monthly analytical report on the organization’s Facebook efforts must be completed. You can also designate people to run certain accounts so there is no unnecessary overlapping.

Voice

Determining what your organization’s voice is going to sound like on social media is a critical part of the success of the online strategy. Your playbook needs a section on the tone and structure that your social media account’s will follow when posting updates.

For example; is your Twitter account going to be fun and quirky, posting GIFs to go along with updates full of puns? Or is the account going to post straight-forward updates that get to the point fast and provide lots of facts, figures and further reading?

Everyone has a different voice and way of communicating, so coming to an agreement on a singular voice for your organization’s social media account will help it stay consistent and successful. It will help you avoid confusion, especially when there is more than one person in charge of managing accounts. Determining a voice will also help your to connect better with your target audience by relating to them in the structure they are familiar with.

Criticism and Crisis

This last part about criticism and crisis is probably the one of, if not the most important part of a social media playbook. It’s a lot easier to be successful on social media when things are going right, but it’s when facing obstacles that the best online marketers separate themselves from the rest. Putting a plan in place for when your organization receives negativity via its social media presence or when there’s a crisis involves looking at all the possible angles and drafting a measured response that can be shaped to fit specific circumstances.

For example; if an angry former member attacks your association on Twitter, your playbook should have guidelines for dealing with criticism. If your Facebook account gets hacked, you need to know what the steps are to protect your data, content and image. If the members of the industry you are representing suffer through a sudden tragedy or harsh period, you need to know what can be through social media to address the scenario.

Developing a response to criticism or crisis right now, when there is nothing wrong, will help you craft a reasoned response for a time when emotions are high. It will save a lot of headaches and make your organization come out of a bad time looking good. It will also help protect your organization’s image and long-term sustainability, both online and off.

 

Should Your Association Produce A Podcast?

If you’re new to the term, podcasts are┬ádigital audio shows that are typically focused on a running theme, subject or purpose and can include interviews, storytelling or opinion talks. Podcasts are not new to the online landscape, but they’ve gained widespread notice from recent shows that have been wildly popular, such as Serial and This American Life.

As podcasts become more common and gain more listeners, it begs the question; should they become part of your association’s communications and marketing plan? Much like video, podcasts are rising in appeal among all demographics, and that includes your members, whoever they may be. Determining whether your association should consider creating a podcast comes down to knowing the resources available to you (time and money) as well as the ultimate format and goals of the podcast.

The following are some benefits of podcasting that you may want to take into consideration when deciding if your association should start its own digital show for members.

Education

Podcasts are perfect way to share knowledge, which make them a great tool for associations looking to offer professional development, first-class information and even certification.

If your association is thinking of creating a podcast with education as the goal, it is opening itself up to a world of options. You can take some issues explored at conferences or in your magazine and delve deeper into their subject matter. Recent events can be examined further in a podcast. Interviews with experts, members and staff are a great way to provide context to issues, make them easy to understand and relate them back to the way members do their job in a meaningful practical way. You can even look at a service that the association provides or part of the organization’s history and educate members in that way, while also promoting your association.

Ease

Podcasts are one of the most portable, accessible and easy-to-digest forms of content available right now, which makes them ideal for an association looking to separate itself from the crowd and get an edge on the competition.

Once downloaded, podcasts can be listened to just about anywhere; work, home, in the car, on the subway and just about everywhere else you can think of. It can be listened to on just about any device as well, which makes it easy for your members to access on their computer, tablet or phone, no matter their style of technology. Print and video can often be a little too consuming or unavailable for people. You can’t access an article when you’re on the subway and you can’t watch a video when you’re working on a spreadsheet at the office. However, you can listen to a podcast that has been downloaded in both scenarios. This can give your association an edge that it won’t regret.

Entertainment

Everyone likes a little fun once in a while, especially when it’s relaxing and engaging, which is exactly the combination that podcasts bring to the table. While your members become hooked on an entertaining podcast series, they are more likely to interact with your association and its other content as well.

We don’t mean to bash on other forms of online content, but many of them require some work on the part of the member. Reading a blog, combing through tweets and even reading a Facebook post means putting in the time. Podcasts are a great way to unwind and listen to people actively interacting with you about a topic you’re interested in. If your association is keen on creating a podcast, it should keep the topics on something engaging and interesting and even light and fun once in a while. Don’t be overly serious about the subject matter. This way, listening to your podcast will become part of a routine for members who see it as a way to spend their spare time. This will encourage them to engage with other parts of your organization, creating an active and engaged membership.

Revenue

With any association initiative, revenue is front and centre. Podcasts don’t have to be a loss leader for your association. With some persistence and creativity they can even help your organization make a little cash.

Podcasts are usually downloaded and listened to on a mobile device. Your association can charge a small fee for each download. Your association can also restrict the fee to non-members, putting the podcast behind a members-only wall. If walls and fees aren’t your thing, try selling advertisements or sponsorship. You can plug paying companies during the podcast and charge for the service. If you can find a company to sponsor the whole shebang, that’s even more of a revenue coup! Remember to always keep track of the number of listeners or downloads so you can make your sales pitch to advertisers and sponsors.