What Netflix Can Teach Associations About A Successful Social Media Strategy

This is the first part in a two-part series about personalization and customization in social media

Almost every conversation these days includes a mention of Netflix, whether it’s your friend asking if you’ve seen the latest original show or discussing with your partner which movie you’re going to watch on a Thursday night.

There’s no doubt Netflix has been mammothly successful in pervading popular culture and one of the big reasons for that success is the user’s ability to customize. Subscribers have a chance to add shows and movies that they are interested in to their view-later list, rate the offerings how they see fit and search for the media they want to see. Ultimately, Netflix takes this all into account, all the interests and rating and personal preferences, and generates a set of shows and movies that fit best with the individual subscriber’s tastes.

This level of customization and personalization accomplishes several goals. First, it creates ease of use. Subscribers don’t need to go too far to find something they will enjoy. Second, it is extremely helpful. The suggested offerings often uncover shows or movies that fit the subscriber’s preferences, but ones that the user might not come across otherwise. And third, it creates a sense of being valued. Netflix customers feel like their individual needs and wants are being catered to, which creates a better overall experience and makes the user feel special.

Associations can learn a thing or two about social media strategy from Netflix’s popularity and its successful pursuit of customizing the user experience. It starts with the similarities between Netflix and associations. Both operate on the same basic model of membership and both aim to cater to individuals with distinct preferences and aims that reside within a larger group.

Data is the key ingredient that makes Netflix’s famous recipe work. It takes reams of data about how individual users interact with the site’s offerings and tweaks it approach based on the results. For example, if a certain subscriber watches mostly comedies with female leads that are less than two hours long, this is the exact type of movie that will end up in the “Recommended For You” list for that user. More generally, if searches and views show that a large percentage of subscribers are interested in satirical documentaries, it might make sense for Netflix to produce a string of similarly-focused docs.

Associations must learn to use data in much the same way when building and improving a social media strategy. Some of your association’s tweets, Facebook posts, blog topics, Instagram pictures, etc, do better than others. While it may seem random from day to day, week to week or even month to month, it’s important to view patterns of engagement within a large sample size.

For example, view the data around all your association’s tweets in the last three months (Twitter Analytics is a great tool for this, by the way). Determine which ones performed the best in terms of total interactions, traffic to the association website, impressions, etc. Then, analyze all elements of these successful tweets such keywords used, length of tweet, time posted, hashtags used, the presence of media and other such factors. When you begin to chart the commonalities between all the tweets, you will probably begin to see a trend emerging. These trends are what your target audience responds to most frequently and thus finds more valuable. Once you are able to know what your followers find valuable, you can use this to elevate your content.

Let’s take this example further to illustrate the point. After reviewing your association’s tweets for the last quarter, you find 50 with engagement stats that are at least 25% above average. Of these 50 well-performing tweets, a majority of them use the same two or three keywords, contain a link to the organization’s website, use the same hashtag and are posted between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm. You can conclude from this that your followers/members will get the most value if your association tweets using these parameters. In this way, you are customizing your offerings based on the preferences of your target audience in order to maximize their experience and draw them back again and again.

As our world moves further toward total customization and personalization every day, associations must mimic this approach in order to hold on to the members they have and entice the ones they don’t. Social media, with its endless stacks of data and everyday use, is the perfect place to start applying the concepts of personalization and customization in order to deliver more value and boost loyalty. By meeting members where they are, you will enhance the user experience and draw more engagement, more traffic and more feedback than ever before.

Stay tuned for the second part of this series next week where we will look at specific ways associations can create a customized and personalized experience for members through social media.

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