The Ultimate Showdown: Finding The Best Way To Tell A Story On Social Media

Social media is the ultimate storytelling medium. Organizations have a plethora of storytelling tools at their disposal when using an online platform. There are so many, it can be overwhelming at times, which is why we put together this fun little competition to see which tool was best at the job of storytelling. These aren’t all the ways an organization, association or business can tell an engaging story to their audience, but it’s a list of the very accessible, very successful methods and while the effectiveness of each tool depends on the goal of the story, there’s one that reigns supreme almost every time. Let the games begin!

Quarterfinals

Video vs. Meme/GIF

Our first matchup pits the power of video against the small, but powerful content that is the meme or GIF.

Memes and GIFS can be a great way to make an impact and tell a story is a very immediate way. For example, tweeting a meme with picture of your association’s president talking to a member with a quote about what the association means to the president over top the photo is one way to capture a story of passion, value and leadership in one very succinct way to tell a tale. GIFs are like shorter videos that pack a lot of emotion and content in a few seconds.

However, video is just too versatile to lose this matchup. Videos can be long or short, serious or playful, can present a lot of context and background or get straight to the point, can include lots of interaction and creativity and, most important of all, can be used with similar effectiveness on most social media platforms. It’s no contest; video runs away with this one.

Testimonial vs. Roundup/Recap

The next competition in the first round sees the relatable testimonial square off against the information superstar that is a roundup or recap.

Roundups or recaps are two ways to tell a story about a recent event or initiative and focus primarily on facts, figures and a straightforward retelling of what happened. It’s strength is the substantial amount of information it provides to an audience. Roundups and recaps often offer links to a few different sources or the insight of a variety of people to capture as many viewpoints as possible and tell a well-rounded story.

Where testimonials have roundups and recaps licked is their engaging, relatable and passionate nature. Yes, a testimonial of an event, service, product or experience is only one person’s viewpoint, likely offers no behind-the-scenes exclusivity and lacks the thoroughness of a roundup or recap, but that within that one voice is a crystallized explanation that gets to the heart of what makes the element their talking about so special. It stirs in people that same feeling and moves them to act, share, engage and take part in that story as it moves forward. The winner here is the testimonial.

Photo Essay vs. News Article

The penultimate match of the quarterfinals has the eye-catching photo essay duke it out with the classic news article.

News articles are classic for a reason; they work. Articles can come in many shapes and forms, such as interviews, editorials, lists, tip sheets, survey analysis or long-form profiles, but the foundation of each one is their ability to spin a story using the written word and maybe a few pictures along the way. Articles are main storytelling vehicle in association magazine, blogs and even on longer-form social media platforms, such as Facebook. They are in-depth, informative and, if done right, can move people to act with the visuals they conjure up, the emotions they convey and information they carefully construct.

While news articles are a worthy competitor and could edge out their nemesis on some days, photo essays claim victory on most occasions. Photo essays are similar to news articles in that they tell a story of an issue or a person. However, whereas the ratio of written words to photos is 90/10 in articles, that ratio is reversed for photo essays. It’s telling a story through photos with some text to provide context and background. Photos provide a more visceral tale of what is happening and helps the audience connect with the subject matter. Furthermore, this method of storytelling is versatile and can be done with greater effect on more social media platforms, including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, a blog and even on YouTube. The clear winner is the photo essay.

Infograph vs. Audio Story

The final clash of the opening round pits the savviness of the infograph against the allure of the audio story.

An audio story is more commonly referred to as a podcast or a radio show. This medium seeks to tell a story through the use of sound and talking. It can be as short as a couple minutes or as long as over an hour and can include interviews, narration, music, sound effects, editorials, speeches or the like. Audio stories have the unique ability to take you out of the environment you are in and bring you to the setting of the story. They are personal, informative and engaging and easy to put online (on a blog, Facebook or Twitter) and bring anywhere on a smart phone.

While audio stories are very trendy right now with the popularity of podcasts such as Serial and This American Life, we have to give the slightest of edges to the infograph. An infograph combines stats and data with engaging images to build a cascading story about the state of a particular issue and its relevance to the audience. Numbers put the abstract into perspective for an audience and pairing this with some textual background and a lot of visuals paints a picture that can be powerful, engaging and shareable. They are easy to make, easy to upload to just about any social media platform and are very accessible for every type of organization, no matter the target audience. This broad appeal makes it the winner in this very tough matchup.

Semifinals

Video vs. Testimonial

Our first of the final four matchups has video vs. testimonial

This is a case where fire is fighting fire and, in our minds, video burns brighter. A simple testimonial can be passionate, powerful, concise, engaging and relatable. However, video can not only incorporate testimonials into its structure, it can do so in a much more visual way than a written or text-based testimonial that appears through a tweet, a Facebook post or an Instagram post. A video can also combine several aspects of a testimonial and make it part of a larger piece of content that overwhelms what testimonials offer, such as adding inspirational music and capturing the perspectives and exclusive looks in a much more interactive way. Because of its versatility and large skill-set, video cruises to victory here.

Photo Essay vs. Infograph

This competition pits two visual-based methods of storytelling against each other in a tight race for a spot in the final.

These two pieces of content are very similar. They both use images as their foundation and main tool to engage. They can both be shared on multiple platforms. And they can both be used to focus on a bigger picture issue or a smaller, niche subject. While it may seem like a coin toss, the photo essay squeaks out the win here because of its ability to tell a story every time as opposed to the infograph, which has the potential to become a rundown of boring, self-serving numbers if done incorrectly. Photo essays appeal to the human side of both the organization creating it and the target audience. While infographs can be fun and engaging and informative, photo essays can use stats and data in much the same way while also having the ability to use quotes, personal views and brief storytelling techniques, which all adds up to victory.

Finals

Video vs. Photo Essay

In the winner-take-all match, video faces off against photo essay to determine which storytelling method is best on social media.

These are two great methods of storytelling, especially when it comes to telling a story on social media. However, video wins this competition eight or nine times out of 10. The reasons are numerous; video combines images, sound, people, action, stats and text, whereas photo essays are, for the most part, static. The length of videos is easily manipulated to fit the organization’s goals and the type of platform it is shared on, whereas photo essays usually have to include multiple photos to tell a story. Video can be shared easier on the same or more platforms than photo essays. We can go on and on, from a more measurable ROI to the availability of resources and the number of content sources, video gets the better of photo essays every time. It was a valiant effort, but the winner is…

Winner

Video!

Video is a powerful, engaging and effective way to tell a story while benefiting the short and long term goals of the organization. While video is the best way to tell a story in many situations, it doesn’t mean that it always is. It’s important to look at what your resources are, what the story is you’re trying to tell, what social media platform you are using and what your goals are when developing a storytelling strategy. All these method are a great way and combining two, three or four of them together to tell a story can result in a more powerful and engaging result.

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.

The Dos and Don’t of Scheduling Social Media Content for the Holidays

The holiday season looms and so too does the annual, end-of-year office shut-down. As the year draws to a close, you’re likely taking a few days off, whether it’s an organization-wide policy or a choice to spend a few days off to be with family and friends.

This rest and relaxation doesn’t usually come without a flurry of activity right around now, especially for marketers and communication personnel. You take time off from work, but your audience rarely takes a day off from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and so on. This means that you will most likely be scheduling posts to go out on social media ahead of time. If this is your first go-around or even your tenth, here are a few tips to keep in mind when scheduling social media posts during the holidays.

Do use Hootsuite 

Hootsuite is the go-to platform for managing all your social media accounts in one place. It lets you schedule dozens of posts ahead of time on Twitter, Facebook, your blog and Instagram. It’s easy to use and allows you to set specific dates and times of scheduled posts, suggests the best times to post based on your audience’s patterns of use and gives you the option of attaching images and tracking the success of your posts.

Don’t Hawk Your Products or Services

It’s the holiday season so relax a little bit. Your audience has just come off more than a month of intense marketing from all corners of their life leading up to Christmas and is probably looking forward to enjoying some lighter content on social media. It’s not wise to manipulate the message of the holidays in order to draw attention to a money-making opportunity for your organization. Read the room and save the subtle sales posts until after the season.

Do Be Festive and Fun

This is the flip-side to the previous point; everyone is having some fun and taking a day or two to get work out of their mind so you might as well join in. It can be as simple as wishing your audience a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays. Schedule this message to go out with a cute picture or fun video greeting from your staff. Add some seasonal hashtags to the mix and keep it short and sweet. No one wants to spend all day on their phones during the holidays!

Don’t Talk About the Weather or Anything Subject to Change

It’s very tempting to schedule a post talking about a white Christmas or snow or cold temperatures, but try to hold yourself back. As we all know, the weather is temperamental so making any claims, as whimsical, fun or clever as they might be, will just look downright silly if the climate changes on you down the road. This goes for any element or even that could change. Stick to safe topics and put a creative spin on them if you want to go outside the box.

Do Check Back in Every so Often

We know, we know, it’s the holidays and you don’t want to think about work, which is why you’re scheduling posts in the first place. The reality is, being a social media manager is a 24/7 job. The Twitter account or Facebook page is often the only line of communication a member, client or customer has with your organization during the holidays. Check in with your accounts every so often, even if it’s once a day, to answer any questions and respond to interactions. This small effort will make your scheduling binge worth every bit of extra work.

Don’t Forget to Tell Them Where You Are

Your don’t need to tell your audience that the entire office is leaving to work on their tan in the Caribbean, but it’s always a good idea to let them know your holiday office hours. Schedule regular posts telling your audience when you will be closed, when their will be reduced hours, when you’ll open up again and how to contact someone in an emergency. People will appreciate having this knowledge as it will save them time and plenty of inconvenience.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?: Analyzing a Benchmarking Report About Associations and Social Media

A new report detailing how associations use social media was released last week by Marketing General Inc. and the information was beautifully transformed into an infographic by MemberClicks.

The report gives all kinds of great numbers and is a useful source for associations that are wondering how their online communications game matches up with other member organizations.

There are a few conclusions from the report that strike us as, well, interesting. We took a long, hard look at the report’s findings and went a step further, making some discoveries of our own. Here they are, along with some helpful tips and advice for association marketers looking to fine-tune their social media strategy.

Blogs Are Being Under-Utilized

The reports gives a run-down of the social media platforms that are most frequently-used by associations and it’s no surprise that Facebook and Twitter rank as the two most popular sites. Facebook is used by 91% of respondents while Twitter is used by 87%.

However, it was a surprise to find that only 24% of associations maintain a blog. Yes, the Golden Age of blogs ended a while back, but blogging can still be a massively effective way to accomplish the goals associations usually set for themselves on social media. For example, the report also concluded that social media is most often used for event promotion, organizational awareness and association news. Blogs are an amazing way to do all three!

We could write a dozen blog posts about the value of blogging for associations, but we’ll try to condense our blogging love into one last paragraph. Blogging can come in so many different forms, from infographics, to transcribed interviews with members and just a straightforward editorial-type explainer. They can be used to recognize members, highlight certain aspects of your association or its initiatives/events and keep members knowledgeable about the latest developments in their industry. However, the biggest benefit of blogs for associations might just be their ability to drive traffic to the association’s website by sharing the posts on other social media platforms.

Likes, Followers, Fans, Etc Are Over-Glamorized

One of the most interesting pieces of data from the benchmarking report was that a whopping 79% of associations measure social media impact by number of followers, likes, fans, etc. that their accounts accrue.

This is, quite frankly, an unbelievable number and a troubling trend that will only serve to limit the effectiveness of social media for associations. Yes, followers, page likes, etc. are important, but they only skim the surface. Measuring the impact of social media efforts on this metric alone would be like a doctor looking at a patient’s outward appearance for five seconds before declaring them absolutely healthy, only to realize later that the patient has some terrible disease only visible upon further examination. Associations need to look for at least a dozen other metrics before they can get a sense of how well their social media channels are doing and what can be done to improve them.

Again, we can write thousands of words on which of the dozens of metrics are better than analyzing likes, followers, etc. but we’ll list only a few. Demographics are key. You might have 3,000 followers, but if only 100 of them are part of your target audience, then the large following is just a mirage and your message has much less impact. Reach/impressions are also crucial. Again, you may have 3,000 likes, but if no one is looking at your messages, you aren’t really that popular after all. Finally, engagement is a key stat. You don’t just want your members to give an obligatory ‘like’, you want them to share the status update, comment on the post you created and click on the link to your website.

Too Few Associations Are Effectively Posting On Facebook

Most associations are not really using Facebook effectively. Out of the associations that use Facebook, 35% post once a day and 33% post once a week. It is evident that associations have a Goldilocks Problem; one posting frequency is too often and the other is not often enough with too few organizations (31% or less) implementing a just-right option.

Admittedly, this is the most subjective conclusion we drew from the report. Although specific circumstances play a role in how often organizations should post to Facebook (their staffing levels, size of audience, etc.), we feel that there is a general rule-of-thumb that leads to a better return on resources for associations using the platform. For example, posting once a day requires a lot of time and effort to develop content and create a post while Facebook’s algorithms make it less-than-likely that the content will show up on people’s news feeds. Posting once a week or less just means your audience may tempted to relegate you to irrelevancy, meaning your efforts are for naught.

The ideal scenario would be to post to Facebook two to four times a week. This is generally an effective, efficient schedule that keeps your efforts consistent and produces the best quality of content. Because of these factors, this is also the content that has the greatest capacity to draw views and engagement, making the return on resources higher.

Integrating Elements of Gamification Into Your Association’s Social Media Strategy

“The opposite of play isn’t work, it’s depression.”

The above quote served as the introduction to a presentation on using the science of play to create better association events by Julie King during the CSAE Trillium Chapter’s Summer Summit. King would go on to talk about how play can engage an association’s members and, in another presentation, how organization’s can use the elements of gamification to create a better member experience.

While gamification (the practice of applying the typical elements of game playing to other activities) is often associated with mobile apps, there’s no rule saying that it has to be restricted to the online world. In fact, during King’s presentation, several discussions among attendees resulted in ideas for how associations can use gamification in all areas of their operation.

Having said that, gamification is a perfect fit for association’s looking to boost their social media efforts. By using some of the elements of game play in social media strategy, associations can engage members, promote their services and increase the value they add to peoples’ lives. Here are a few elements of gamification and some ideas on how to integrate them into your social media efforts.

Mystery

Nothing captures peoples’ attention like a good guessing game. Working towards a big discovery is a key part of game play and gives everyone an opportunity to not only focus on the end result, but on the experience and the process as well. Incorporating mystery into your association’s social media strategy every once in a while will give your members a chance to see what your organization has to offer from a different perspective while also giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Integrating mystery into social media can be as complex or as simple as your association wants to make the task. Achieving an air of mystery can be as simple as asking a trivia question about your organization or industry on Twitter or Facebook. For example, you can tweet the question, “Who was our first president?” or “What is the name of the article on page 12 of the latest issue of our magazine?” Racing to find the answer and be the first one to solve this ‘mystery’ provides an opportunity to engage with members, for members to achieve something and for you to drive traffic to areas of your association you want highlighted.

If you want to go a little more complex, social media platforms like Instagram and Snapchat are ideal for creating mystery. Providing visual clues for members is a great way to get them engaged and invested in the outcome. For example, post a portion of a picture that defines the location of your next event and have your members guess where the annual conference will be next year. It’s a fun and engaging way to get your members thinking about an upcoming event and give them some stake in the outcome. You can even award a prize to the first person who guesses correctly, which brings us to the next element of gamification…

Reward

Everyone likes getting rewarded for their efforts against fierce competition, whether it’s a trophy for winning the big golf tournament or the accumulation of “money” in a video game. Rewarding your members for a job well-done on social media is a great way to engage members and recognize them for their efforts, which means they are getting more value out of your association.

Again, using a reward system on social media can be as small or as big as your association wants. For example, ask your members to submit ideas for topics they would like to see as a webinar or conference presentation. Collect them and pick a winner who could receive a discounted conference registration or free attendance at the webinar. You can even go a step further and take some of the best ideas and pit them against each other in a bracket-style showdown for the best one. Members can vote each day through Twitter and Facebook (and Instagram and Twitter and LinkedIn, etc.) and the person who submitted the top choice could receive a prize.

If you want to go for something even more creative, try a project like Twitter Bingo. Twitter Bingo works like normal Bingo, but instead of numbers for each of the squares, there are tasks that can only be completed through Twitter, such as retweeting the association, mentioning another member in a tweet and tweeting one fact about the association. You organization can send out the Bingo “card”, members would complete the tasks and send the card back with screen-shot proof and either receive a prize or be entered to win a big reward.

Narrative

Storytelling is one of the best ways to learn. That’s the reason children are taught important life lessons through fairy tales and nursery rhymes and why some of the most popular video games in the world have great story lines. Stories need a good narrative to be successful and there is no better place to get your association’s story out than through social media. By incorporating this element of gamification into your online efforts, your association can connect with members and help educate members about products, services and value in an engaging way.

Integrating a narrative into your association’s social media can be done in a multitude of ways, both big and small and at any point in between. Depending on the platform, the narrative is going to look different. For example, if you association is on YouTube and wants to create a narrative about its conference, you can follow a first-time conference goer around and film his/her experience, edit it together and tell the story of the event through the eyes of a newcomer. This allows you to highlight the event through a unique perspective and one that your members will value. You can also create a recap of your event on YouTube and Instagram or tell the story of an award winner, the organization’s lobbying efforts or its history through a blog or a Facebook post.

If you want to try something a little more complex with a narrative, you can create a Choose Your Adventure blog post to promote your next event. Create multiple scenarios around the story of attending your next event. Members will need to navigate through the scenarios to reach a successful end. This creates a situation in which members will subtly learn about the features of the conference while having fun and being engaged. It also incorporates the concepts of mystery and reward into one project, making this blog post an all-around gamification superstar.

How Social Media Can Help Your Association Attract The Next Generation Of Members

To say that ‘Millennial’ is a buzzword that’s been thrown around a lot in the last couple years is an understatement. It’s a term used so frequently that you may be tired of hearing it over and over again. However, Millennials aren’t just a trendy demographic your association should think about reaching out to, they’re the future. They are the the ones that will make up the bulk of you organization’s membership soon and for a long time after. So paying attention to their wants and needs has to be high on your to-do list.

A recently conducted survey asked Millennials what association benefits they value the most. The number one answer by a large margin was continuing education and training, followed by access to a peer-reviewed journal, expert advice, leadership experience and a magazine.

What’s The Bottom Line?

One thing it clear when looking at the areas that Millennials value most; they are hungry to learn, network and gain access to any sort of professional development. The top five responses in the survey make it clear that information is a highly sought-after commodity by young professionals. If your association does’t provide this information to the younger generation, it’s a sure thing that they’ll search for, and find it, somewhere else.

What’s Social Media’s Place In All This?

Millennials are looking to drink in all the information they can and social media is all about giving and gaining access to information. Your association is a wealth of knowledge. From its veteran members to its educational offerings and the connections to government, your organization has a mansion full of facts, data and lessons that young professionals covet.

Your social media efforts are like the keys you give these young professionals to open the doors of this mansion. Social media gives your association an opportunity to share some of its information stockpile with those searching hardest for this valuable resource, which makes your organization valuable to these people. The more valuable your association becomes, the more likely someone is going to be to invest in it by purchasing a membership and attending events.

How Can Social Media Make Your Association More Valuable To Millennials?

Millennials prize education and training above all else, according to the aforementioned survey. Use your social media platforms to promote your association’s educational offerings as much as possible. Live-tweet events, post blogs about conferences and trade shows, create a video about how best to study for certification exams and make going to educational offerings fun with Facebook contests, Pinterest boards and Instagram photos.

This will help your association strike a balance between offering some great information and encouraging non-members to check out your association for more of the same. It also makes learning easy and accessible to Millennials. These factors combine to make your association more valuable to the younger demographic.

Three of the next four most desirable association offerings for young professionals are based around the output of information. Journals, magazines and expert advice are all sources of learning and professional development. Social media is a great way to expand the reach of the expertise and content your association is already producing. By giving Millennials easy access to this information, your association becomes a valuable source of knowledge for this demographic. Once they realize the value of your organization as a way to gain information, they will be more likely to invest in the association’s other offerings to members, such as events, webinars and mentorship programs, which can be a great way to increase non-dues revenue.

Lastly, Millennials want to gain leadership experience from being a member of an association. Social media platforms are a great way to expose young professionals to the opportunities available at your organization. Blog posts, tweets and Facebook posts about committee activities and lobbying efforts allow members and non-members to see the leadership opportunities that are available as well as the influence members can have on key decisions. By highlighting the achievements of your members, the evolution of your industry and your association’s part in both of these areas through social media, Millennials will be more likely to realize the value of your organization and feel like the return in worth the investment.

Four Types Of Culture Your Association Wants And How Social Media Can Help You Get Them

Merriam-Webster released its 2014 word of the year a couple weeks ago and it’s not what you’d expect. Instead of a buzzword, such as content marketing or slacktivism, the world-renowned organization chose an much more important word; culture.

According to the good people at Merriam-Webster, culture is a term to convey a kind of academic attention to systematic behaviour and allows us to identify and isolate an idea, issue, or group. In other words, culture is the definition of an entity, such as an association, based on the way they act and talk.

Culture is obviously an important term in today’s world and it is an idea that influences how your association operates. Culture dictates how your staff works, what your organization’s goals are and how members interact with the association. A great social media strategy can help your association enhance a culture that entices new members, draws the attention of present members and strengthens the organization in other areas.

Your association certainly has an ideal culture in mind. That philosophical notion is put into concrete terms through things like a mission statement, specific member benefits, the type of education sessions offered at conferences and how staff communicate with members. All these things combine to define what your association represents and what it’s known for.

Good association culture is not a new thing and social media alone doesn’t create a culture of success, but it can highlight it, underline it and put an exclamation at the end of it.

Here are a few examples of what culture your association would want perpetuate and how social media could help

A culture of knowledge

If you want your association to be the go-to resource for industry knowledge, social media can give you a helping hand. Your association’s goal might be to provide the most up-to-date research and relevant content to help members. Online platforms are a hugely effective way to spread information. You can reach hundreds or thousands of people with a link to your latest publication or a research report through Twitter. You can write a blog outlining how to deal with new legislation that affects members. You can post a how-to video on YouTube that helps guide members through difficult times, such as a natural disaster. By getting that information out in large amounts and making it accessible to all strengthens your association’s culture of knowledge.

A culture of customer service

If you want to maintain a culture where members, sponsors and industry professionals feel comfortable communicating with your organization and get great service, social media is a the perfect tool for you. Any online platform cultivates instant two-way communication. For example, Twitter allows a member to ask a question of an association or comment on one of its services and receive a timely, tailored response. Social media allows your organization to be accessible and transparent to its members, which is a great asset for when non-members or potential sponsors want to find out more about your organization, but aren’t ready to take the step of calling, emailing or walking into the office.

A culture of community

Every association wants to create and grow a culture of community and make the organization a place members think of when they want to connect with colleagues. Social media was built to create a tighter community for people with similar interests or career aspirations, which makes it perfect for associations looking to instil this culture. Your association can stimulate conversation between members and those in the industry through social media, as it gives people a platform to connect with people they may never otherwise talk to. Having an association LinkedIn page is a great example. By creating informative posts and putting forward conversation topics, your association can build a sense of belonging and inclusiveness for members.

A culture of excellence

If you want members to think of excellence and accolades when they hear the name of your association, social media may be one of your best friends. One of your association’s main goals is undoubtedly to help advance the careers of its members. One way to do this is through programs that promote striving for success, like awards or professional designations. Marketing these programs can get a huge boost from social media, as it creates a culture of recognition that others want to be part of. Recognizing members and accomplishments is done best when there is a large audience and social media is great in this regard. For example, you can highlight a member who just won an award through Twitter, a blog, a YouTube video, Instagram, Vine or Facebook. The more you get the word out, the more your association’s culture of excellence grows and flourishes.