One Of The Easiest Ways Associations Can Increase Reach And Engagement On Social Media

We can say all we want about wanting to educate members or produce quality content that provides value, but when it comes right down to it, social media for associations is all about getting eyes on your message and then converting those people from passive viewers to active and engaged audience members. All the rest of your objectives, while very noble and worthwhile, flow from achieving these two goals.

When you understand this concept, you can start to work towards achieving an expanded reach and more engagement in order to accomplish your association’s other missions, such as drawing more people to your annual conference or getting more members to participate in an advocacy campaign.

Building a broader network and generating more engagement is often a slow process that happens over time, but there are a few ways to mildly jump-start the strategy. One of the best ways to do this is to add pictures or images to your posts.

In a case study of one of our clients, we looked at the previous two months worth of tweets and compared those posts with larger images attached to those posts with thumbnail-sized images and posts with no images at all.

What we found was that those tweets with a large, high-quality photo attached to it average 93% more impressions (or reach) than those posts with a small photo or no photo at all. Furthermore, we discovered that the average number of interactions also increased, this time by a whopping 155%, when tweets featured a large image as opposed to a small image or no image at all.

Our client is not alone in experiencing the power of images; one study reported that 93% of the most engaging posts on Facebook are images. Another piece of research found that content that included compelling images averaged 94% more views than their text-dependent counterparts. This is true of tweets, Facebook posts, blog posts, LinkedIn articles, pins on Pinterest and most other social media posts. Images jump out to the average social media user among a wall of text and a really good photo can convince someone to stop and invest their time in reading your message and sharing it.

The magic of a picture is very real and your association should be taking advantage of it when it comes to its social media and other online communications channels. Take lots of pictures around the office, at events and when you are out and about. Don’t stretch too far, but if there is an opportunity to illustrate a point in your tweet with a photo (for example, attaching an image of your organization’s magazine when posting an article from that magazine) go full steam ahead with it.

Make sure your photos are (once again) relevant, clear, interesting, vibrant and relateable. When you buy into this approach, your communications and marketing with greatly improve and both you and your members will benefit immensely.

3 Out-of-the-Box Social Media Ideas For Associations

There’s a reason people walk up to the smiling Starbucks barista and ask for their usual; it’s familiar, reliable and gets the job done. Social media content is much the same, especially for associations and their members. Following a consistent format for tweeting, Facebook posting, blog publishing, etc can be a great way to convey important information, build a following and provide value to your organization’s target audience.

However, consistency can become a rut really easily. Sometimes the transition from reliable to boring isn’t even perceptible until it’s too late and your association’s members have tuned out.

Good thing we’re here to help you avoid this trap. We’ve put together three interesting projects that associations can try with their social media to inject some variety into their online strategy and keep members engaged.

Dragon’s Den/Shark Tank

If you’re not familiar with the popular TV series Dragon’s Den (Canada) or Shark Tank (U.S), the concept sees eager entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to wealthy investors in order to gain investment. This stakes are high, which makes for great TV and the reality factor changes peoples’ lives.

Your association can take a page out of the reality show book by doing its own version of Dragon’s Den/Shark Tank. Tell your members to make a short video with their best idea for improving the association or improving the industry and post it to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Pick the top five best ideas and pit them against each other with members voting through social media on which one is the best. At the end of the contest, give the winner a prize and try your best to implement the idea. Not only does this project give you an opportunity to improve the organization, but it generates engagement from all corners of the association and industry. The stakes are high, the reward is promising and the process is engaging.

Association Champion Bingo

We’ve already covered the idea of social media Bingo for association events and conferences. This idea broadens the concept so it can applied to more members across a wider time frame and make a bigger impact.

Formulate a series of tasks members can do on social media that help the association or draw attention to its value, services and programs, such as write a blog post for the organization’s website or tag the association five times in a tweet. Place these tasks into a Bingo board and share it will your followers. Emphasize that completing each task gets the member closer to being classified as an Association Champion. When members submit a full Bingo card, reward them with a prize and profile them on your various social media platforms. This project allows members to engage with your association is a variety of ways while also giving members an opportunity to work towards something as well as participate in micro-volunteering initiatives.

A Crowd Sourced Mini Book

Some of the most valuable and interesting insights come from putting a group of talented, passionate and engaged people in a room and letting them collaborate. This isn’t always possible for associations to do when their members are dispersed across cities and provinces. However, with a little creativity and time, it’s possible to present your members with a book authored by themselves and their colleagues using only social media as a product of their ingenuity and expertise.

This project might take time, but keep in mind the end goal and go slowly. Start with questions for your membership on your association’s various social media platforms, such as, describe why you are passionate about this industry in one sentence or what’s most valuable lesson you’ve learned during your career in the industry? Ask for pictures of the profession on Instagram or Facebook, request blog posts from professionals in your field and conduct open Twitter interviews with members. Take all the images and text and out it together into a small book that can be put online or published and attached your trade magazine, handed out at conferences or made available for order online. Not only is this a great way to generate engagement on social media over time, but it allows members to both share their expertise and gain the insight from dozens or hundreds of other professionals they may not get at networking events or educational get-togethers.

Three Twitter Analytics Tools You Should Be Using, But Probably Aren’t

Twitter Analytics seems to have achieved the impossible; it is sleek and user-friendly while at the same time providing plentiful and in-depth data to social media managers. The statistical tool made available by the social media giant is a great way to measure the online success of your association, non-profit or small business. However, many people go right to the tweet-based metrics provided by the site and skip right over some of the most valuable resources it provides.

Here’s a look at three of the lesser-known tools Twitter Analytics makes accessible to social media managers and how they can change the way you look at your digital marketing strategy.

Audience Insights

The Audience Insights section of Twitter Analytics offers a valuable peak at the demographics you are reaching with your efforts and just how effective your content is at targeting those people who are most likely to signal a return on your investment. This section charts the changes in your following over a four-month period and allows you to see what language your followers speak, the proportion of males and females that follow your organization, where your followers are based geographically and what topics your followers are interested in.

The two most important takeaways from this tool within Twitter Analytics are the geographical stats and the follower interests. The geographical stats will help your organization determine if it is reaching the right people. If your small business or local non-profit is based in Toronto, you want to target people in Toronto. Knowing what proportion of your following is based in that city will help you gauge if your content is effective or if your audience acquisition strategy needs some work. When looking at the interests of your following, you can determine what makes them tick, what they find valuable and what issues they are most likely to engage with. Using this information, you can tailor your entire content creation strategy to match these interests and draw more engagement from your followers.


The Events section of Twitter Analytics is the place to go to keep abreast of current events that can be capitalized on to promote your brand or organization’s value. This section accumulates all the events coming up and puts them in one place, from sporting events to movie releases to special awareness days. This feature allows you to organize events by type, date, duration and location so you can customize your search and zero in on the most relevant goings-ons for your organization.

The key takeaway from the Events function of Twitter Analytics is that it can be used to design your organization’s content calendar. Content calendars allow you to maximize time and engagement by planning ahead, capitalizing on trending topics and making current issues relevant to your audience. For example, if you peer at the Events section and see that in one week there are 100 days until the Summer Olympics in Rio, you can tailor your tweets around the theme of the Olympics, athletics, health, sports and/or inspiring athlete stories. This will allow your organization to connect with people on the topics they care most about as well as to reach out to a larger number of people while promoting the its brand and value to its target audience.

Top Tweets

If you use Twitter Analytics, you are probably familiar with the Tweets tab. Within that section, there is a smaller tool called Top Tweets that can provide valuable insight into your organization’s past successes and set it up for an even better future. The Top Tweets section allows you to see the best-performing posts from your account in any given time period. This includes seeing how many impressions each tweet received as well as the number of engagements and the engagement rate.

There are several key takeaways you can glean from the Top Tweets section, but it all boils down to this; it allows you to recognize formulas or trends that can help you construct tweets that are most likely to create more engagement and therefore a better return on investment for you and your organization. For example, if you look at your top tweets and see a certain hashtag appear again and again, you can be fairly certain that the inclusion of that hashtag should be something you do more often in the future. Same goes with the timing of the tweet, the length of the post, the tone and whether you included any tagged attribution, links, images or video. Once you have analyzed which structure is best, you can fine-tune your strategy to meet the conditions that have meant success in the past in order to replicate that achievement moving forward.

Why You’re Looking At Social Media ROI All Wrong

The most recognizable approach to analyzing return on investment usually includes seeing black ink, a plus sign or an increased bottom line. You put a certain number of dollars into a project and calculate how many dollars that project brings in. That approach is deeply flawed when it comes to social media marketing.

Let’s leave the online medium alone for a minute and visit the farmer’s market. Let’s say you walked into your local market to buy apples with $2 in your pocket. One stall you walk by is selling apples at five for $1 and the another purveyor is selling the fruit at six for $1. It’s a fairly obvious assumption that you would give your business to the second farmer.

It is through this example that we can begin to truly understand how to truly and effectively measure social media ROI. In the apple story, the money you have in your pocket is your investment. The number of apples you can buy with that investment is the return. You receive a higher return with the second business than the first (12 apples to 10). Social media ROI is akin to this logic. The amount of money/time/resources you put into social media is your investment and the amount of engagement/reach/traffic you receive is your return.

Too often, we think of return on investment as a monetary figure. However, in the example above, you invest $2 and get food in return instead of money. This trade-off is still valuable and, ultimately, probably more valuable that cash (a person’s got to eat, right?). This is the mindset all organizations must have when parsing the data and determining social media ROI.

For example, your association should not try to figure out how much member dues revenue its Twitter account is bringing in. Nor should a small local coffee shop attempt to draw a correlation between its food sales and its Instagram efforts. Rather, these organizations need to calculate just how efficient their resources are and where they can maximize benefit while maintaining their investment.

Instead of measuring financial gains or losses from its financial investment in social media (which is often a misguided approach if you are not paying someone on a full-time dedicated basis or on a contract for social media), your organization should look to measure the impact of their online efforts compared to its content input.

For example, how many impressions are you generating on the average tweet over the period of a month? How much traffic is being directed from your Facebook links to your organization’s website on a daily basis? What is the conversion rate between mentions on Twitter and those people you mentioned interacting with or following the account?

Once you have determined these numbers and other similar stats, you must compare month to month and see where your strengths and weaknesses lie. After determining these elements, you need to determine why the successful periods were a success and why the numbers lagged at other times. Is it the hashtags or keywords you used? Was it the time of day you posted? Was it the type of content you posted about? Once you have determined the factors that went into the successful posts, it is time to duplicate their style, voice, intent, structure, etc in order to emulate the success.

If you follow this process, you are more likely to see a rise in engagement, reach, traffic and all the other indicators of a healthy social media presence while maintaining the amount of time, money, posts, staff, etc that go into your social media efforts. This is a valuable return on investment, one that doesn’t set unrealistic goals of making money off blog posts or YouTube videos.

So next time you visit the grocery store or take a bite out of an apple, remember this lesson about ROI and its moral of shifting your perspective.