5 Ways For Associations To Tell Engaging And Effective Stories On Instagram

When it comes to social media and marketing, stories will trump press releases any day.

Telling a story will capture the attention of an association’s membership and is more likely to create an emotional reaction which can then turn into multi-level engagement. A story is much more effective at conveying value and moving people to action.

As the saying goes, show, don’t tell, when presenting a story. Instagram is the perfect medium for associations looking to dispense with long-winded explanations or stuffy text blocks and convey a message to its members using visuals.

Here are five essential elements for associations to use when constructing a story through a picture on Instagram that will captivate members and make them want to learn more.

Capture Emotion

If you want your members to feel some emotion when looking at your Instagram post, you need to present them with emotion. While a posed picture with smiling faces is a great way to show someone having a great time at an event, it is even better to capture a speaker in mid-talk, looking passionate about their topic or an attendee at that same event laughing naturally as they network. Capturing these spontaneous shots that show off real emotion feels natural and tells a tale about how people are feeling at that moment about an initiative, event, etc.

Highlight The Setting

Every good story gives some context. Your association’s Instagram posts should too. Showing your audience the setting of the photo and the story you want to tell grounds them in a certain place and time and makes it easier for them to relate to what you are promoting. Frame photos around a setting that people can recognize or have some importance to your story/message. For example, if you are recognizing a member and their accomplishments, use a picture that shows them at their place of work surrounded by items that define their professional triumphs.

Show Action

Similar to emotion, showing action is a crucial element to telling a great story, especially on Instagram. Think of your favourite novel or movie. There were certainly actions taken by the characters that made the book or film interesting and engaging. The same concept goes for Instagram photos. Capturing an action shot explains to the reader what is happening without having to trudge through text, which evokes emotion and keeps their attention. For example, if your association is meeting with politicians to lobby for the industry, capture the organization’s executive director, CEO or President shaking hands with the politician.

Cater To The Mood

There is a certain feeling that you would like your association’s Instagram audience to feel after seeing your post and ‘reading’ its  Whether it’s a feeling of excitement for an impending event or optimism towards the work being done by staff, it’s important to capture this mood in every element of the photo. Everything from a person’s face to the lighting of the photo and the filter used will emphasize the mood you are trying to convey and enhance the experience that your audience goes through when viewing the post.

Know When To Craft A Long Or Short Caption

The picture’s caption is an integral part of any Instagram post and the story your association is trying to tell. There’s a time to be brief with this caption and let the photo take centre stage in telling the story and there’s also a time to be longer with the written side of the story. Knowing which situation calls for which method is not an exact science. However, generally if the context, facts and call to action require a longer explanation, the caption should be longer. If the picture speaks for itself and the content is lighter, keep the caption brief and fun. For example, if you are showing the leadership team preparing for a lobby meeting or the executive director/president/CEO reading over a speech that they are giving, the explanation behind this picture might require you to give some context. When this happens, weave the caption into a story where the person in the picture is the main character. Don’t use bureaucratic language, but get personal and relatable, just like the picture itself.

Three Perks Of Twitter’s New Character Count Guidelines For Associations

Twitter’s latest change is a game-changer.

For more than 10 years, the social media platform has limited its messages to 140 characters and while that’s not exactly going to change, the way Twitter counts its characters is undergoing a huge shift.

At the time of this writing, every piece of text or media is included in Twitter’s 140 character count, which means that you can only squeeze in so many pictures, links, videos, hashtags and words. Often, some of these elements are sacrificed in order to fit inside the 140 character limit and the quality of the message can suffer along with this sacrifice.

Twitter is finally changing this model and exempting links and media from the 140 character limit. This long-rumoured change throws open the doors to all sorts of possibilities, especially for association marketers.

Perk #1

The first and most obvious benefit of this modification for associations is that they will have the ability to add more pictures and videos into their content. Gone are the days of forgoing a picture or video because a link to a website means there’s not enough room in a tweet.

Pictures and videos, as we’ve mentioned before, have been shown in numerous studies to generate more engagement and increase the reach of an organization’s message more than simple text. When you combine the engagement-boosting power of a video or picture with a link to the association’s website, it means more traffic and a better likelihood of results.

For example, let’s say you want to promote your association’s certification or designation program. Now, it’s much easier to state your tweet’s context, add a link to the part of the website with details on the program and include a short testimonial video with members who have been through the program. Now, you’re doing three things at once, instead of just one or two, and increasing the possibility of traffic to your website and more participation in a given service.

Perk #2

An event is one of the most effective ways to connect with members, provide them with added value for their investment and make them want to come back for more. Social media plays an important part in making this all happen as being online adds another layer to the attendee experience and multiplies the feeling of community that is present at a big association event. Twitter’s new character count guidelines means that you can make this experience even more valuable and memorable for attendees.

Part of the allure of live-tweeting an event is sharing every experience with attendees from multiple angles and perspectives so as to enhance the general value and atmosphere of attending. Fitting more media and more text into a tweet allows you to add something new to the attendee’s experience.

For example, when highlighting a trade show, you can fit the whole trade show experience into one or two tweets much easier than before. Instead of posting one tweet with text, one tweet with a picture or two and one tweet with a video, you can post one with all three and give attendees instant access to multiple views, perspectives and experiences of the trade show. This builds excitement and makes attendees feel as if they are stepping into a whole new experience that will add another layer to something they might have seen last year and the year after and so on.

Perk #3

A call to action is an integral part of any association’s advocacy program, which can be one of the most valuable aspects of membership. You may call your members to action with a letter writing campaign to politicians or call on members to contact local media and write for the association magazine with their stories about how the industry is making the community a better place. Whatever the cause or objective, you have to rally members and persuade them to take action en masse, which can be extremely difficult to achieve.

Again, Twitter’s new character count formula allows your organization to craft better calls to action that will be more easily spread and make it easier for members to participate. Ease of process is a integral part of a successful call to action. If members have to do many steps to answer the call, many of the less engaged members will drop the process half way through. Twitter’s enhanced character count allows your association to adapt its call to action to the social media platform and do so in a way that cuts out any ambiguity or extra steps to make it easy for members, thereby increasing the odds that more members will participate.

Here’s one scenario where this strategy comes into play. Let’s say you want your members to participate in a letter writing campaign to politicians in order to lobby against a piece of legislation. You can send out a tweet with a form letter attached, a video from an executive about why this issue matters and a link to the association website for more information, all while still using a hashtag that captures the spirit and community of the call to action.

If Social Media Strategies Were Superheroes

We believe that social media lets associations harness all sorts of super powers, which is why we wrote this blog post imagining what it would be like if social media platforms were super heroes. We’re back it again, but this time, we’re showing you what it might be like if specific social media strategies were turned into their fictionalized doppelgängers to highlight how successful these methods could be to your membership organization.

Member Interviews On YouTube

Alter-Ego:

Wonder Woman

Powers:

Super-strength, speed, durability, and longevity

How They Use Their Power For Good:

Wonder Woman is the perfect embodiment of this member engagement strategy. Take some time and film interviews with various members. You can target members who have accomplished something big recently, a long-time member or a member with some unique insight into a certain element of the profession. Putting together these interviews and posting them to YouTube has the ability to strengthen the bond between success, quality information, your members and your association. The videos are sure to be shared amongst your members at super speed and the content can be shared multiple times across multiple channels, making for a durable use of your resources.

Video on Instagram

Alter-Ego:

Wasp

Powers:

The ability to shrink to minuscule size and grow wings

How They Use Their Power For Good:

Video is one of the best ways to capture engagement and expand the reach of your association’s content and with Instagram, it’s even better. Instagram videos are designed to be small and compact (just like Wasp!) while also being versatile and strong. A well-made video on Instagram has the power to grow wings and take flight among your association’s target audience. You can create content about anything from a quick glance at a conference’s trade show floor to teaser trailer for your organization’s event to short videos of members explaining why they love the association in 10 seconds or less.

Infographics On Blogs

Alter-Ego:

Captain America

Powers:

Enhanced strength, endurance, agility, speed, reflexes, durability, and healing

How They Use Their Power For Good:

Captain America is loveable not just for his greater-than-normal abilities, but also for having all the values that society knows, trusts and holds dear, especially in times of crisis. Infographic blog posts have that same effect on people. They are trustworthy, reliable and can even help heal broken relationships with members. The agility and flexibility of infographs (traits they share with Cap) lie in their ability to take boring, old numbers and transform them into a story that shed light on the value an association can give members. Infographs can also give a new, engaging perspective on old issues that might persuade lapsed or unhappy members to come back into the fold of your association.

Proud Stats On Twitter

Alter-Ego:

Captain Marvel

Powers:

Flight, enhanced strength, durability and the ability to shoot concussive energy bursts from her hands.

How They Use Their Power For Good:

For those of you who are confused, so-called ‘proud stats’ consist of taking facts and figures about your organization and its industry and transforming them into a concise, fun, engaging and shareable point of pride for members. If you’re coming up empty on what that may be for your association, consider asking yourself, “Why does (insert industry here) matter to my city/province/country/world?” Once you’ve answered that question, find some numbers to back it up and put it out there for the world to see. Similar to Captain Marvel, these optimistic tweets can take off on Twitter as members see it and share it. They also have the ability to send a burst of energy and pride among members (Captain Marvel, anyone?) and have those members tie this great feeling to your organization.

3 Easy Ways For Associations To Connect With Their Target Audience On Social Media

Whether you’re just starting a social media account for your association or your organization is an old pro at the medium, connecting with your target audience is a never-ending process that is crucial to the success of your online marketing efforts. Building an audience, increasing reach, boosting engagement and finding quality content are just four reasons out of dozens that you will want to be connecting with more and more people and organizations on a continual basis.

This goal is easier said than done. When you are starting a new account, connecting with the plethora of prospects can seem like an overwhelming task and when you’ve been doing it for a while, it’s understandable to think you’ve tapped out your audience and accept the plateau.

These struggles are real, but we have a few strategies you can try to increase your audience and connect with your association’s target demographic.

Make It Part Of Any Registration Process

In any given year, your association’s members have to fill out a handful of forms. Whether it’s event registration, membership renewal, volunteer applications, award nominations or magazine, newsletter or blog articles, your members send personal information to your organization all the time. Asking for someone’s social media handles, just like you ask for their email address or phone number, on any forms or communication is a very simple way to scout for online connections.

Your association may have connected with many of these people before taking this step, but there are always people who slipped through the cracks or who are new to the industry or social media that you can find out about this way. It also saves you the time of going on a hunt for hidden social media connections and gets your members thinking of connecting with your association themselves.

Comb Through The Friends Of Your Friends

If your association has been on any social media platform for even a couple months, there are surely accounts that post regularly and that you go to first when searching for the latest and most relevant news and content. Use these dependable friends of yours to connect with your target audience by mining their list of connections.

Pick five of the most relevant and active users that you follow or that follow you and take a look at who follows them and who they are following. This list will give you some great insight and will most likely yield a lot of social media users that you have not included in your list of connections. Because you have chosen a social media account with goals and content that are most like your own, these new connections are more likely to reciprocate this connection, engage with you, provide great content and become part of your community.

Seek Out Those People Who Talk Like You

One of the ways for associations to be successful on social media, amongst the millions of accounts and multitude of posts, is to find their niche and relay specialized, high-quality content on a consistent basis. Within this strategy is another method of making connections with your organization’s target audience. Find out what topics you specialize in, talk about the most and that generate the most engagement and then find the people who are also talking a lot about these topics.

Take a look at a large sampling of your most recent posts and analyze which hashtags, words, type of media and topics you post about and that get the most engagement. Once you have discovered these popular clusters, search for people using this same collection of language and content on any given social media platform. You will probably end up finding a few people who are interested in these niche issues and who your association can connect with. This process may be a little more time consuming than the previous two strategies, but it will be most likely to guide you to a small number of highly active and relevant social media users ready to embrace your community and make an impact on your efforts.

The Role Of Nostalgia And Innovation In Social Media And Member Engagement

There are two types of members that associations should be paying attention to the most right now; those from the Baby Boomer and Millennial generations.

Yes, every member counts, no matter their age or occupation, but it’s time to face facts; these two groups make up the largest working demographics in the world and often carry the most clout. Veterans of the industry are influential, know a lot of people and hold powerful titles, while young professionals are the ones ushering in the latest and greatest ideas and changes to the industry while having the potential to be a part of your association for decades to come, if you play your cards right.

Engaging these two groups and highlighting the value of your association to them is a crucial part of remaining a strong and sustainable organization. The success of your engagement strategy has the ability to influence everything from your association’s board leadership and event attendance to its advocacy strategy.

There are many ways that social media can provide one platform to convey an association’s virtues to Boomer and Millennials alike, but one key strategy is to employ nostalgia and innovation. Having an understanding of how to use these two elements to engage industry vets and newcomers, as well as how to tie them together, is crucial to standing out and proving your association’s worth above others. The following paragraphs provide some quick tips for integrating nostalgia and innovation into your social media strategy and taking one more step towards a stronger relationship with Baby Boomer and Millennial members.

Nostalgia

Nostalgia is a wistful affection for the past, that feeling that makes you long for the ‘good old days.’ Older members of your association have been part of the organization for a long time and there’s a reason for that; they’ve associated their time as a member with success and prosperity in their personal and professional lives.

However, the cause of nostalgia is often a feeling that the present is not as desirable as the past, which inevitably means that older members may not feel like the association is as useful to them as it once was and may be diverging from the path they have known and respected for decades. When this happens, it leaves your association open to not only a few lapsed members, but the potential for these influential and respected veterans of the industry to voice their displeasure for the organization for all to hear.

In this situation, social media can be a powerful tool to help older members remember what makes the association great and how membership is still a valuable tool for them. Photos are stories are two of the best nostalgia-inducing mechanisms and social media just happens to be the perfect place for those two elements.

Dig back into your archives of photos and pick a few from a past conference or event that feature members. In the lead up to the present incarnation of the event, post these pictures on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. This will remind older members of the impact these events had on their careers, the networking, the friendships, the lessons learned, and will help them realize that a continued presence there will be beneficial. Bonus points for engaging members by tagging them or playing a fun trivia game with the picture by asking what year it’s from.

Recruit a veteran member to tell the story of their first big moment in the association, such as the first time they put it on their resume, attended an event or received the magazine. Have them also relate this experience to their present day experience with the association. Put the story up on your blog or YouTube channel and post portions of it to Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. These stories tell a first-hand account of the association’s excellence in the past and present, stirring up memories of the first encounter with the association in all members and generating positivity in the present.

Innovation

Innovation is the direct opposite of nostalgia. It is the constant striving for a better tomorrow and a belief that the future will be more efficient and more valuable than what was done in the past. Innovation is what young members, those who are just starting their careers, are looking for in an association; what can the organization offer them that is new, exciting and can give them an edge?

One of the prime reasons that Millennials stay away from joining associations is the belief that such organizations take an old school approach and are happy going about business as usual, catering only to the veteran members and how they like structuring benefits, events and more. This ideology can put young professionals off your organization for years and years and maybe forever.

Social media is a great way to show young professionals that your association is interested in providing cutting edge solutions to relevant challenges and can be the step up they need in their careers.

If your association has a trade show, take that opportunity to highlight the organization’s dedication to exposing members to innovative products and services. Arrange to go on a “shopping trip” with an industry veteran on the trade show floor and document his or her’s best finds live on Twitter or in a blog post or YouTube video later on. Put an emphasis on the the newest technology or cutting edge companies.

Another way to underscore innovation at your association through social media is to create an innovation podcast or YouTube channel. This weekly or bi-weekly piece of content would seek to find people in the industry that are using new ideas or methods in the industry or who are blazing a new trail. Ideally, these people would be association members. Interviewing them and using these discussions to highlight ways in which the industry is evolving will link your association with innovation and solutions and will draw in young professionals who are seeking these elements.

Four Ways Associations Can Maximize Time And Resources When It Comes To Social Media

Let’s be honest, your association is often overwhelmed with work and is probably being asked to do more with less as often as you tie your shoes. And then you need to find a place on your already-crowded plate to fit social media.

Trying to wedge social media as another task into your busy day and with limited resources often leads to burnout for you and low-quality content for your members. However, we have four strategies that can help you and your association maximize the time you do have for social media while using the available resources in the best way possible. Here they are:

Schedule Posts

As the saying goes, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail and it definitely rings true when it comes to social media. Sit down at the beginning of the week and chart out what sort of content you are going to post on social media. Creating this content calendar may take an hour or so out of your day, but it will help you save time in the long-term. By building this broad outline of content, it will be easier to create and post content quickly instead of spending time thinking of what to focus on every day.

It’s also a good idea to reserve a block of time every day or every couple days to create a batch of content and then schedule it to automatically post at certain times. This will help you stay focused on the task at hand rather than breaking up your day to create content, however small, at various points of the day. Hootsuite is a great platform to schedule social media posts.

Create An Idea Bank

Inspiration doesn’t strike often, so make sure to capture it when it does. Not only will it help you create great content, but it will save you time in the long run. Create a file on your computer and phone and a section of your notebook that is reserved for jotting down ideas for content as they come to you. They don’t have to be amazing ideas or need to be created right away, but having this idea bank is a real time saver when you sit down to build content and run up against writer’s block.

Having a personal idea bank is great, but two heads are better than one and so are three heads, four heads and a hundred heads! Create an office-wide idea bank, a shared document online for board or committee members to share an idea or even have a section of your website dedicated to allowing members to share an idea for a blog post or YouTube video. Crowsdsourcing ideas will allow you to maximize the resources you do have available and will save you time while allowing you to get a broader perspective on the issues that are important to members. You can even incentivize the project by giving staff or members a little prize if you use their idea.

Repurpose Content

Don’t let your previous content off the hook so easily. It doesn’t get to just sit there and collect dust after you spent so much time creating it. Instead, make it go to work in a variety of ways to maximize its value and save some time. It’s okay to repost a blog, video or the same content on Twitter as long as it is still timely, relevant and valuable to your members. Don’t be afraid to thrust some previously successful content back into the spotlight, even with a few tweaks to update it.

Similarly, take content you have already created and reinvent it to cover another angle of the issue or to fit on another platform. For example, take a blog post and create a YouTube post around the topic you covered. Or, take some stats from a blog post, article, video and post them as a series of tweets to highlight interesting facts. Lastly, take one point made in a blog post and break it down even further into its own blog post. Reusing and repurposing content doesn’t mean you need to reduce quality. Rather, it means building on the work you have already done to conserve time and resources.

Do A Little Bit Extra

Every step counts when you climb a mountain just as every piece of writing or design matters when you are creating content. Take 10 minutes at the end of every day or 15 minutes at the end of every week, separate from the designated time to work on social media, to write a paragraph of a blog, take some pictures for Facebook, capture video or sort through useful sites for useful content for Twitter. This process isn’t about finishing a piece of content, but rather assembling content piece by piece until, at the end of a week or month, you are left with an extra finished product. This extra piece of content can be slotted into your content plan and save you time the next day, week or month to work on other projects.

Three Ways To Get Quality Images To Use On Social Media

The cliche ‘A picture says 1,000 words’ needs some updating for the digital age. We’re thinking something along the lines of, ‘A picture gets 1,000 views.’ That’s because in today’s age of social media marketing, images sell and they sell big. Pictures and video dominate timelines and capture many times more engagement than plain, old text.

Knowing the power of images is one thing, but obtaining these images is another thing all together. Associations, non-profits and small businesses can often be left wondering how to get high quality images to use across multiple platforms, whether that be for an Instagram post, a Facebook profile picture or a Twitter update.

There are a variety of ways to get top-notch images to use on social media and chose three of the easiest, effective and accessible ways to do so below.

Create Them Yourself

This one is fairly obvious, but many people don’t believe they have the skill or expertise to take quality images to use on social media. We’re here to tell you that’s a lie; you can and should be taking pictures all the time to add to your online accounts. You don’t need to be a professional photographer or an artsy individual to take some great photos. Make sure you have a decent camera (even a new phone camera will work perfectly) and go to work snapping some photos. Set aside a day or 15 minutes every day to take photos and stockpile them for use in content, a new profile picture or for an online promotion. If you really are not confident in your picture taking abilities, don’t try to be fancy. Take pictures of real situations that you and others can relate to, such as pictures of your colleagues, volunteers at work or someone interacting with particular product that you are really proud of.

Crowdsource Them

One of the most important lessons you should know about any aspect of social media and content marketing is that you’re not in it alone. There are hundreds and probably thousands of people who care about the same issues, products, services and opinions you are sharing on social media. If you have trouble creating images yourself, put out the call to your loyal following to help you out. For example, if you are an association that wants to have photos of its members at work, but it is too time-consuming and/or expensive to visit members on the job, put out a call on your various social media accounts for members to send in a photo of themselves at the office. You can even give them some incentive in the way of a photo contest. However you go about achieving this, just know that crowdsourcing images a great way to get quality pictures from a variety of different perspectives for future content creation while engaging your target audience.

Hit Up Unsplash

If you’re hankering for a truly stupendous photo to illustrate a point, such as a stunning panorama of nature or the perfect shot of a bustling city, don’t just Google it; visit Unsplash.com. First of all, taking pictures from Google images often infringes on copyrights and the photos taken from Google are often low quality anyway. Instead, Unsplash offers visitors a place to search and use open-source photos from photographers from around the world. You can almost always find a stunning photo that captures the mood or vision you want to convey on Unsplash with none of the photo-stealing guilt. All the photos are high-resolution and ready to drop into any social media material you have in mind.