The Ugly Truth: What Social Media Can And Can’t Do For Your Organization

Everyone wants a simple solution to complex problems. It’s the dream peddled by nutrition scam artists who claim one pill will make you lose weight and feel amazing and science fiction literature that conjures up a single vaccine that will cure all the world’s ailments.

In reality, living healthy involves exercising, eating right and a myriad of other daily necessities while preventing and treating disease and illness falls into the same multi-faceted category.

Social media often falls prey to this idealistic thinking. Many organization, whether its an association craving more members or a small business that needs to get the word out, think social media is the answer to all their woes and the one bright light that will lead them into a rose-coloured future.

We’re here to say, get real!

We love social media and┬áboth the numbers and anecdotal evidence has shown us that a solid social media strategy can have a hugely beneficial effect on brands. However, your organization will never get the most out of its social media efforts if it has unachievable goals and poor practices fuelled by unrealistic expectations. That’s why we’ve put together three things people often believe social media can do for them and their organizations and dismantled these myths.

Social Media Can’t…

Boost Your Bottom Line Significantly

If you are creating social media content with an ultimate goal of generating a significant amount of revenue for your organization, you’re always going to fail. Your association is never going to increase its membership by 10% or its event attendance by 20% because it’s on Twitter or Facebook. Your small business isn’t going to get a bunch of customers into the store just because it has a great-looking Instagram account. Sure, a few people might decide to go to an event or buy a product because they saw it on social media and there are rare times when a company’s promotion goes viral. However, having this as your main goal is like adopting a cat because your band needs a keyboardist and you saw a piano-playing cat on YouTube once. It happens, but you wouldn’t bank your future prospects on it.

Single-Handedly Make You Popular With Millennials (Or Any Generation)

Segmenting your audience into generations is all the rage in marketing, especially association marketing these days, and that’s great. You need to know your target demographics, their needs, wants, preferences and so on. Millennials have been the most coveted, and some say the most elusive, generation to marketers in recent years and many people have claimed that a presence on social will be enough to elevate an organization in the eyes of these young professionals. Don’t believe these people. People are complex and therefore, so are generations of people. Just because Millennials, or any audience, is online doesn’t mean for one second that simply showing up means you’ll get a second date with them.

Be Done Without Cost, Buy-in And Planning

We’ve heard countless stories from people in associations and small businesses who were given the task of social media management with little training, planning, resources or discussion from or with their colleagues and managers. They simply start a Twitter account or LinkedIn group because of a snap decision by an executive, board or themselves and are left frustrated and disappointed when their results aren’t what they thought. The ease and low-cost of starting social media accounts makes it seem like making a good┬ásocial media strategy is easy, quick and cheap, but it’s not. Just like with any part of an operation, social media needs to be well thought out, have precise goals, defined resources and support and feedback from all levels.

Social Media Can…

Be Part Of A Revenue Generating Strategy

Social media is both an intensely immediate medium and a lesson in the long game. While content can be created, shared and engaged with in seconds, the cumulative impact of your social media strategy is what can be integrated into an organization’s marketing and revenue generating plan. Social media can drive traffic to a website, so a great, user-friendly website is a must. Social media can keep your organization’s products and services in front of potential buyers until the time they are ready to purchase said product or service and think of your organization. Social media can be a powerful tool for presenting data to sponsors or investors and can get your organization some key funding. These are just a few of the ways social media is an integral part of a complete revenue generating strategy.

Be Part Of A Multi-Pronged Value Proposition Plan

Your organization’s Twitter, Facebook or Instagram account is like a stage; without a good backdrop, actors and an engaging plot, an audience won’t find much value in it. Before starting a social media account with hopes of engaging a specific demographic, you must first determine what is valuable to that demographic. Once you have decided which products they like, what kind of media they respond to, what values they hold closest, what problems they have and how they look for solutions, you will never be able to market your organization to its target demographic. Remember, social media is simply a tool to convey value and rarely the foundation of value in and of itself.

Be Done Well With All The Considerations Other Initiatives Receive

Think about it this way; you would never plan an event for your organization without carefully considering everything from a budget to a theme to the best suppliers and every other detail on down to how a room will be set up. Why then would you not plan this carefully for social media, which is a long-term marketing initiative you have high hopes for? A social media strategy has a much lower likelihood of being successful if you do not treat it like any other project your organization undertakes. That includes getting a knowledgeable person to head it up, establishing a budget and resources, discussing goals and ways to measure progress and consulting various stakeholders, such as staff.

3 Ways For Associations To Team Up With Industry Influencers On Social Media

Technology has been a way for marketers to engage their target audience for centuries, from the printing press, to radio, TV and, most recently, online platforms. However, the best way to get people to invest in membership or go to your event is still word of mouth.

Word of mouth has been shown to still be the most effective marketing tool there is. A large factor in its success is the fact that someone you know and respect is telling you that investing in a product, service or organization is valuable, rather than the organization itself, who has an ulterior motive, no matter how noble.

The people who have the widest network, are the most trustworthy and respected and who champion your cause the most are called industry influencers. With one conversation, they have the power to potentially convince dozens of people to shell out some money to attend your association’s event or try a trial membership. Getting these industry influencers to talk up your organization is the key to harnessing word of mouth marketing and marrying this engagement tool with social media’s mammoth potential is one more step to maximizing your efforts and the results. Here are three ways to team up industry influencers on social media and boost your association’s marketing strategy.

Plan A Facebook Live Interview

Facebook Live is a great tool to make communication more accessible, open and engaging. A Facebook Live chat gives your association an opportunity to expose members to experiences they would otherwise miss out on, such on taking them behind the scenes of an event or connecting them to the CEO/executive director after a big announcement.

Use industry influencers together with Facebook Live to cultivate excitement for an association initiative. Have an influential member or industry professional come in and answer questions submitted live on Facebook. Streaming the discussion is not only a great way for members to receive information and take advantage of a networking opportunity, but it allows the industry influencer to talk up whatever initiative or project your association is trying to promote at the moment but putting them in front of a wide and receptive audience.

Host A VIP Event

Word of mouth doesn’t necessarily mean a member in a bar talking up the association to non-members in the industry. These days, many people get their word of mouth recommendations from the social media accounts of the people they know and trust around the industry. These influencers have blogs, Twitter accounts, Instagram accounts and Facebook pages that are full of posts detailing their experiences with a new products, event or service. These critiques are then viewed by many and their actions are often dictated by what they read. Use this digital word of mouth to your advantage by putting favourable content right in the lap of these savvy industry influencers that they can spread with a VIP Event

For example, your association may be starting a new seminar series it hopes to use as a springboard for greater member education and engagement and a source of revenue for the organization. Before the seminar series begins, create a seminar event and invite only five or six of your industry influencers who have a large social media following. Put on a great show with lots of visual appeal, great content and lots of hospitality. Encourage the influencers to post lots about the seminar to their following. Investing in one great event could result in scores of people following up on the influencers’ social media suggestion of going to the association’s seminar series.

Create A Testimonial Video With A Twist

Everybody likes a great late night show; they have funny hosts, captivating anecdotes from celebrities and engaging skits. It provides audiences with a relatable connection to someone they see as both exclusive and some worth emulating, which means that if a celebrity talks about a certain restaurant, bar or movie that they enjoyed, you can expect a big bump in revenue for that one things they mention. The same concept can fit into your association’s social media marketing strategy, where industry influencers are similar to celebrities and their endorsements are valued above all. But think like a late night show and spice up the regular, old testimonial.

For example, take a couple cues from the Late, Late Show with James Corden and his wildly popular segments like Carpool Karaoke or Take A Break. Have an industry influencer come in and sub in for various association staff members throughout the day, having them do the work that the staff member usually does. Film them while they help staff members ‘take a break’ and edit it together to create a short video that captures some funny moments, the reality of what it takes to run the association, the value it provides and how much the influencer respects the association and its staff at the end of the day. Post the video to all your association’s social platforms and have the influencer do the same so a twist on the usual testimonial.

4 Ways Social Media Can Improve Your Association’s E-Newsletter

Association industry experts often espouse the benefits of creating multiple touch-points between the organization and its members in order to keep members engaged, informed and feeling like they are receiving value. One critical touch-point is an association’s e-newsletter. E-newsletters are a great way to provide valuable content to members, keep them up to date on events and initiatives and encourage their participation in association activities that validate the organization’s continued work, financially or otherwise.

However great e-newsletters can be, creating a publication that generates the desired open and click-thru rates is an imperfect science and can leave many an association executive frustrated. This is when social media can become a strong ally in the fight to improve your association’s e-newsletter. Here are fours ways your organization can use the power of social media to improve its e-newsletter and make it a powerful touch-point for your association.

It Can Tell You What Content Is Most Engaging

The sheer number of statistics available to gauge member response to newsletters has never been higher and that’s a great thing. You can figure out which content has the best click-thru rate, the longest average read time, the most shares and on and on. However, you can never have enough data and a big enough sample size, which why you should turn to social media to help crunch the numbers and come to a more well-informed conclusion.

You are probably already sharing links to your e-newsletter on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and any other platform you have. Create a spreadsheet and track the performance of these links, including the number of clicks, shares, likes, comments, etc. Combine this information with the stream of data you receive on your e-newsletter already and a clearer picture begins to emerge. After determining which content is most successful among your target audience, begin to create a strategy to incorporate more of that kind of content in subsequent newsletters. It will provide more value to readers and up the ROI of your efforts.

It Can Help You Curate Content And Authors

The thin line that e-newsletters (or for that matter any content dissemination platform sent to members) must walk is one of providing members with the information they need while at the same time providing innovative, unique and fresh perspectives in order to stand out. Achieving this balance will always be difficult, but social media allows you to constantly assess the pulse of your industry and membership while discovering new voices and new angles.

You already have a spreadsheet with your engagement numbers (as discussed in the previous section); it’s now time to add to it. Create a part of the spreadsheet where you can track the topics and subjects most commonly discussed by your target demographic on social media, as well as the amount of engagement each topic receives. From there, you can determine which pieces of content are the most relevant to readers and which individuals you may want to target when recruiting authors or sources for e-newsletter content. Not only that, but plastering your social media feeds with e-newsletter links and attributing the author a few times will only help potential contributors to see how much their efforts could help gain them exposure. Use this to recruit more authors with different views, experiences and insights to make your e-newsletter shine and reach a broader appeal.

It Can Drive Traffic

If you build more roads to somewhere, it’s almost an inevitability that more people will travel to that place. This logic can be applied to your association’s e-newsletter. The ‘somewhere’ in your e-newsletter is often an event you are promoting, a member benefit you want to hype, a call-to-action you want to boost or any other initiative your want members to take notice of. Social media is one way to build more roads to this initiative and drive more traffic (and member attention) to the elements you want to highlight.

While your association’s e-newsletter will no doubt attract traffic to any sort of important announcement, most members only open the newsletter once. Social media allows your organization the versatility to post these same links to the announcement in different ways, at different times and to different audiences. For example, your e-newsletter might have an article promoting an event. You can tweet about this article five times over the course of a week using different words and hashtags and at different times of the day to capture the most traffic you can. Utilizing social media enhances your newsletter’s reach and the impact of your organization’s marketing efforts by funnelling a broader audience onto a platform where your content can take over and encourage members to engage with the association’s initiatives.

It Can Whip Up Member Pride And Reader Loyalty

There’s something to be said for the concept of mob mentality. That is, people are certainly more inclined to engage in something if they notice others engaging in it first. While e-newsletters provide a great opportunity to create a personal form communication between a members and the association, it also means that this mob mentality is missing, which leads to a lot of people ignoring your emails and the potential for viewing its content, which is a win/win for the member and the association.

Placing the content from your e-newsletter on social media gives your organization a chance to shift the publication from a contained, one-on-one interaction to a more public action. When this happens, there’s a higher likelihood your target audience will be influenced by someone they trust and invest their time in reading the newsletter content. When other members of the association are reading, sharing and otherwise interacting with the e-newsletter in a public space, it creates a sense of community among the rest of the group and increases pride in the entire audience. Furthermore, social media allows the content in the e-newsletter to be consistently circulated and shared, giving your members a chance to make viewing the newsletter, and interacting with the association, a habit. Establishing your association’s communications as a habit for members means your value has been integrated into their daily lives and increases the likelihood that these members will remain loyal to your association long into the future.

4 Ways To Measure The Success Of Your Organization’s YouTube Channel

It’s become fairly common knowledge that video has ascended to the top of the heap when it comes to the most effective and engaging online marketing content. Video gets the most views, the most shares, the most comments, the most traffic and is a stellar media to convey just about any message your association, small business, non-profit or other organizations wants to get out there.

The rise of video to the top of the content marketing food chain means that many organizations (maybe even yours!) have created and populated YouTube channels. This is great, but any story of social media success involves tracking a platform’s results through key performance indicators. While you might be tempted to stick with the simpler, raw numbers, like views, comments and likes, when analyzing your videos and channel as a whole, these numbers don’t tell anywhere near the whole story. This is why we’ve come up with four other stats that will tell you way more about the impact of your videos and will allow you to delve deeper into the success of your YouTube strategy.

Subscribers Per Hundred Views

As we said in the introduction, views hardly ever tell the whole story behind a YouTube video’s success, especially when you are planning a sustained, long-term presence on YouTube and not just a one-hit wonder. Instead, your organization should focus on how many viewers your videos convert to subscribers.

The value of subscribers lie in their increased exposure to the brand, points of connection, opportunities to share and likelihood to provide traffic to links. A higher conversion rate means that your content is providing enough value to viewers that they want to be a part of your strategy for the foreseeable future. This number signals to you the quality of the views achieved, not only the quantity. Lastly, the ratio gives you an idea of what videos are most valued by your target audience, which comes in handy when increasing efficiency when creating new content for your YouTube channel.

Percentage of Views and Subscribers From Target Demographic

Speaking of your target audience, this KPI directly quantifies your channel’s success in reaching them, making a long-lasting impact on them and converting them loyal consumers of your brand.

Looking at the raw number of views any given video receives will not tell you if you are reaching the people who matter most to your association, small business or other organization. Your video could have 100,000 views, but if only 5% of those views are coming from people in your target demographic, it is not as successful as a video that has 50,000 views, but a target demographic viewership of 15%. Furthermore, breaking your subscribers down into demographics and analyzing how many are from your target audience group can also tell you if you are making gains or not and if you need to fine-tune your video strategy.

Quarterly Viewer Growth Or Decline

While the total number of views on your YouTube videos are a lesser stat when determining the success of your organization’s performance the platform, analyzing overarching trends over substantial time periods can give you an indication of what is working and what is not.

Calculating the rate of growth or decline from one quarter to the next isn’t a significant stat in and of itself, but can lead you ask and answer questions that are crucial to the continual improvement of your YouTube channel. For example, if the number of total views rose by 7% from Q1 to Q2, you can ask yourself if the content of the videos was different, if the style was different, if the way you shared the content on other platforms was different or if there was simply an outlier that can either be exploited or dismissed when planning for the future. Conversely, if the total views dropped, was there a reason or several reasons for that. Perhaps the content wasn’t relevant to your subscribers or the average length of your videos increased and became too long for multiple views and shares.

Top Influencer Shares

With any social media platform, shares (or retweets or the like) are one of the main ways to attract viewers to your content and expand your audience past your own network and YouTube is no different. Shares on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other platforms bring people your video and increase everything from views to subscribers to comment. However, not all shares are created equal.

We already talked about the importance of tracking the impact your videos have on your organization’s target demographics. The same concept should be applied to your channel’s subscribers; those who are part of your target demographic matter more as they are more likely to have a mutual beneficial relationship with you through the content on YouTube. The members of your target demographic who are well connected with other in your target demographic can be considered top influencers, as they have sway over the viewing behaviours of the people you want watching your videos. Determining how many of your total shares are from top influencers will tell you how well your video is doing in pulling in members of your target demographic and how well the video is doing at convincing top influencers that the content is valuable to them and their network.