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.