3 Oft-Forgotten Elements That Are Crucial For A Successful Social Media Post

Forgetfulness is a part of life. Just try to count the number of times you’ve misplaced your cell phone or car keys and you’ll probably immediately think of a dozen or more instances.

Social media managers are not spared this blanking. Sometimes you can get into quite the groove with your content creation and forget some of the most integral parts of a successful and effective post. We’re here to help remind you of what made your posts great and how to recapture this magic with these three tips:

A Link

Links drive traffic, traffic drives engagement, engagement drives participation and participation drives revenue. While it may not be this extremely simple, the basic formula still holds true for many associations, small businesses and other organizations; if you can get people from one piece of good content (your social media post) to another piece of good content (your website), they are more likely to read your blog post, hear your message, browse your products/services and use that online registration/purchase tool.

However, many people forget to add a link to the specific content they are referring to on social media. Instead, they will tell their audience that registration is open for the association’s next conference or that there is a deal on the business’s new product, but fail to provide a path for the viewer to explore these offers further in the form of a link. Next time, make it easy for people to invest their time/money/energy in your organization and add a link.

A Call To Action

Most people like to be told what direction they should be going, which is why a call to action is an important part of any successful social media post, especially for associations and other non-profits. Your audience is undoubtedly smart and capable, but it probably made up of busy individuals with other priorities. Because of this, your audience members often won’t go through the extra step of investigating what to do next if you post about an initiative, event, service or other program your organization is promoting.

When you provide a call to action, a specific way for viewers to get involved and participate in your organization’s initiative, through social media, people are much more likely to follow through as their actions are clearly mapped out. Crafting a call to action can be as simple as tweeting about a letter-writing advocacy campaign from your association’s Twitter account and attaching a sample letter as an image. You are asking your members to write a letter (the call) and providing a clear way to achieve this objective (the action).

A Hook

So much content, so little time; it’s a phrase often muttered, in some form or another, by people every day. The social media world is saturated with updates, articles, advice and posts of all kinds. That’s why your organization’s content needs a hook, something that makes clear that your post is uniquely valuable and relevant to the target audience you want to reach. Too many organizations miss this and simply rely on their audience to trust that the content is up to snuff or that it will impact them in one way or another. But this is not enough.

Instead, your social media posts should be constructed with a hook in mind. Think about what your target audience values, what they want, what they need and what will propel them forward in life. Use these ideas to appeal to them and compel them to take action. For example, don’t just tell your association’s members in a Facebook post that your conference provides hours of great education; instead, tell them that the education sessions will give them access to over a dozen of the industry’s top professions with a unique chance to pick their brains. This is a reason to attend the conference that many people won’t be able to pass up!

3 Out-of-the-Box Social Media Ideas For Associations

There’s a reason people walk up to the smiling Starbucks barista and ask for their usual; it’s familiar, reliable and gets the job done. Social media content is much the same, especially for associations and their members. Following a consistent format for tweeting, Facebook posting, blog publishing, etc can be a great way to convey important information, build a following and provide value to your organization’s target audience.

However, consistency can become a rut really easily. Sometimes the transition from reliable to boring isn’t even perceptible until it’s too late and your association’s members have tuned out.

Good thing we’re here to help you avoid this trap. We’ve put together three interesting projects that associations can try with their social media to inject some variety into their online strategy and keep members engaged.

Dragon’s Den/Shark Tank

If you’re not familiar with the popular TV series Dragon’s Den (Canada) or Shark Tank (U.S), the concept sees eager entrepreneurs pitch their business ideas to wealthy investors in order to gain investment. This stakes are high, which makes for great TV and the reality factor changes peoples’ lives.

Your association can take a page out of the reality show book by doing its own version of Dragon’s Den/Shark Tank. Tell your members to make a short video with their best idea for improving the association or improving the industry and post it to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Pick the top five best ideas and pit them against each other with members voting through social media on which one is the best. At the end of the contest, give the winner a prize and try your best to implement the idea. Not only does this project give you an opportunity to improve the organization, but it generates engagement from all corners of the association and industry. The stakes are high, the reward is promising and the process is engaging.

Association Champion Bingo

We’ve already covered the idea of social media Bingo for association events and conferences. This idea broadens the concept so it can applied to more members across a wider time frame and make a bigger impact.

Formulate a series of tasks members can do on social media that help the association or draw attention to its value, services and programs, such as write a blog post for the organization’s website or tag the association five times in a tweet. Place these tasks into a Bingo board and share it will your followers. Emphasize that completing each task gets the member closer to being classified as an Association Champion. When members submit a full Bingo card, reward them with a prize and profile them on your various social media platforms. This project allows members to engage with your association is a variety of ways while also giving members an opportunity to work towards something as well as participate in micro-volunteering initiatives.

A Crowd Sourced Mini Book

Some of the most valuable and interesting insights come from putting a group of talented, passionate and engaged people in a room and letting them collaborate. This isn’t always possible for associations to do when their members are dispersed across cities and provinces. However, with a little creativity and time, it’s possible to present your members with a book authored by themselves and their colleagues using only social media as a product of their ingenuity and expertise.

This project might take time, but keep in mind the end goal and go slowly. Start with questions for your membership on your association’s various social media platforms, such as, describe why you are passionate about this industry in one sentence or what’s most valuable lesson you’ve learned during your career in the industry? Ask for pictures of the profession on Instagram or Facebook, request blog posts from professionals in your field and conduct open Twitter interviews with members. Take all the images and text and out it together into a small book that can be put online or published and attached your trade magazine, handed out at conferences or made available for order online. Not only is this a great way to generate engagement on social media over time, but it allows members to both share their expertise and gain the insight from dozens or hundreds of other professionals they may not get at networking events or educational get-togethers.

How To Turn A Negative Into A Positive When Someone Bashes A Conference Speaker On Social Media

If you’ve read any of our past posts on integrating social media into events and conferences, you’ll know that we’re big advocates of live tweeting/Facebooking/blogging/etc. Opening the door to different elements of your association’s event can help increase your reach, engagement and value among your target audience. For example, when the keynote speaker is talking to attendees, help those who couldn’t be there in person follow along by throwing out some key facts, stats or quotes on Twitter. It’s a great way to show the social media universe you care about them.

But what happens when you share a thought or two from a speaker and it doesn’t sit well with your online audience? We’ve seen it happen and it’s a reality of the game; when you open yourself up to engagement, feedback and adulation, you also open yourself up to criticism.

Conference speakers are almost always experts in their fields and are well-respected in the industry they are involved with. However not everyone is going to agree all the time and more outspoken users of social media will no doubt voice their opinion loud and clear when they disagree with a viewpoint. This can downgrade your efforts on social media, the event and the speaker and make it an unpleasant experience for all. Don’t let this potential scenario scare you away from using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any other platform at your event. In fact, there are a few ways you and your association can turn the tables on harsh critics and make this unfortunate situation a win-win.

The best way to turn a negative comment into a positive is to mould it into a learning experience, one that promotes meaningful conversation and dialogue. Instead of ignoring the comment or shutting down the person who is commenting, start a conversation with them. Thank them for their thoughts and ask them why they feel the way they do or what alternative view they could offer. Be polite and invite the person to express their views in a constructive manner, rather than an outright dismissal of the speaker’s ideas.

Nothing on social media every happens in a vacuum. Other people are likely to see the critical comment and jump in with their own thoughts, perhaps even the speaker themselves. Attempt to be a moderator without taking sides. Instead, attempt to foster positive discussion and help everyone involved realize that differing views can lead to a new perspective or solution on a problem. It’s also ideal to provide people with context to the discussion taking place. Someone who doesn’t have the full story of the discussion can end up saying something volatile because they don’t have all the facts. This can be done especially well on Twitter as the platform allows you to “quote” past tweets and attach them to one of your own, thereby tying the two messages together and providing context.

The process above is an ideal outcome to a negative comment about a presenter or speaker. Unfortunately, there are some who like to take their critiques too far. This happens when the person doing the critiquing makes it personal, uses offensive language, is uninterested in a constructive discussion or veers to another, less salient point in an attempt to keep the conversation negative. In this case, always stay polite and professional if you chose to respond. Your members, attendees, speakers and partners will see your professionalism and attempt to keep the situation civil and productive which will eliminate a negative perception of your organization or the event. Always put your best foot forward and the majority of your audience will respect you for it and realize a good customer service experience when they see it.

What Associations Can Learn About Member Engagement From 3 Popular Facebook Pages

Humans of New York

HONY Blog Post Pic (2)

Why It’s Awesome

The Humans of New York (HONY) Facebook page tells the stories of “regular” New Yorkers using photos, quotes and short stories from the lives of the subjects. The page has over 16 million likes and has spawned best-selling books, speaking tours, massive philanthropic projects and more.

Each post tells the story of someone’s life from their perspective. The end product is content that is interesting and easy to relate to. Not only do people engage with the content, they also go a step further, offering words of support or a financial investment in some of the projects HONY is involved in. This is because the stories give the audience a stake in the outcome.

What Associations Can Learn:

The best lesson from the success of HONY’s Facebook page is that stories sell. The next time you want members to have a stake in the outcome, and therefore be more likely to engage and invest emotionally, financially or otherwise, tell a story. Profile a member, do an interview with a staff member, create a video about the associations history or create any other content that shows the value of your organization from an intimate, human perspective. Make numbers into a story or weave a tale around an announcement or press release. Words are transformed into emotion when they come from someone members can relate to.

Downtown Yonge BIA

DTY BIA Blog Post Pic (2)

Why It’s Awesome:

The Downtown Yonge BIA Facebook page promotes businesses in one of the busiest sections of Toronto. The page has over 3,500 likes, allows its audience to rate it (the current rating is 4.6 out of 5) and is constantly updated with content, photos, videos and more. It is the most successful Toronto BIA on Facebook in terms of engagement and page likes. The popularity of the Facebook page can be attributed, in large part, to its successful attempt to cater to both its members and the general public. The page posts about the successes of its members while managing to make it relevant and valuable to the general public. This strategy captures both target demographics and helps the organization thrive

What Associations Can Learn:

The most significant lesson associations can learn from the success of the Downtown Yonge BIA’s Facebook page is that highlighting members while providing practical, career-enhancing information is an effective strategy. As we mentioned in the HONY example, telling your members’ stories is always a great way to go and if they’ve accomplished something awesome, don’t hold back in telling their story and patting them on the back. It is also important to add some practical advice into your recognition of members. Find out how other members can achieve this same level of success or if there is a lesson that can be learned and implemented across the industry. This way, you are not only giving one member an added benefit, but also proving your value to many other important members of your target audience.

Major League Soccer (MLS)

MLS Blog Post Pic (2)

Why It’s Awesome:

The MLS is trying to promote soccer in a country where baseball, basketball, football and hockey are well-established an immensely popular sports. It’s been, for the most part, very successful in growing the game’s profile and the Facebook page is a big reason why. The page has over 1.9 million likes and routinely receives thousands of interactions on each post. The page does a fantastic job of using pictures and video to keep fans up to date and involved in the league’s activities. It posts interviews with players, recaps of games, great photo albums and short updates on games in progress. This all combines to provide a great experience for the audience and keeps them coming back again and again.

What Associations Can Learn:

The best takeaway for associations from MLS’s Facebook success is to create a great experience for its members. Dig under the surface of each piece of content you are posting and give members a VIP look at it. If you are posting an update on lobbying efforts, government relations or a new piece of legislation, create a video, make your trip to the government meetings into an album and post frequent updates. Capture your events on Facebook by posting short videos, daily recap posts and small ‘extras’ like a speaker answering additional questions a prize to the attendee who contributed the most on social media. This experience-driven content will keep members coming back and eager to see what’s next.

How Social Media Can Make Membership In An Association Into A Lifestyle

When someone becomes a member of an association, it almost always means they are serious about their career and contributing to their industry. But let’s face it, membership can often seem like a feast-or-famine scenario where there is lots of action from the association in a small time frame and then nothing for months. For example, there’s always lots of hype around an association’s annual conference; the lead-up the event itself and the aftermath, but that generally accounts for about three weeks of the year, after which members are left to look far into the distance for the next chance to network, learn and have some fun.

This hurry-up-and-wait mentality can have a negative effect on members of any association. Long stretches without any meaningful involvement in the association can lead to frustration, resentment or, worst of all, apathy. All these reactions result in lower member engagement, lower participation in association services and fewer renewals when it comes time to pay the annual dues.

One of the solutions to this problem of vast peaks and valleys of association activity can be found in social media. By using multiple online platforms, associations can turn membership from a once-every-other-month practice into an everyday habit. When this happens, joining an association becomes a lifestyle, one that members are likely to keep up with for a long, long time. Here are a few ways that your association can turn membership into a lifestyle:

Talk About Your Members’ Interests

Your members don’t live inside a bubble; they have other interests besides talking about their job and their industry. Take an interest in the hobbies and pastimes of your members and talk about it on social media. This doesn’t mean that you need to stray from your association’s main message or mission by talking about the latest hit reality show. Instead, find a way to relate your members’ interests to the services your association provides or the overarching industry your association represents. This will keep your members coming back to your social media accounts and highlight your organization as well-rounded and consistently relevant to the lives of its members.

Finding out what your members are interested in is as easy as accessing Twitter Analytics. The “Followers” tab on Twitter Analytics allows you to examine which general areas your audience (hopefully made up of your members) are interested in. For example, the results may show that your members are really into technology or sports. Tweet a news article that ties one of these areas into your association or post an update on Facebook sharing content that connects your audience with information they might be looking for because of their interests.

Give Practical Advice

It’s human nature to keep coming back to something that gives value. People will always go back to a restaurant that has good food and good service. Individuals will always tune into the radio station that has the best handle on traffic and suggests the most useful alternate routes. And members will always want to engage with your association if it offers the most practical advice they can use in their everyday lives. Providing great tips, advice and how-tos is critical to keeping your members’ attention and ensuring a daily or weekly visit from them. When your association is being useful, your members will make a habit og coming back time and again.

Practical advice from your association can come in two forms: advice about accessing your association’s value and advice that helps your members’ professional development. Providing tips on how to extract the most value from an association’s programs is a great way to tie the everyday concerns of your members into your organization. You can create a fun YouTube tutorial on navigating your association’s website or using the members-only job board more effectively. You can also put together content that touches on your members and how they can do their jobs better. Lists are the best way to do this (people love lists!) and a blog is a perfect platform. For example, you can write about the top five ways to manage stress at your members’ workplaces or the top three institutions for continuing education for your members.

Have Some Fun

Everyone likes a little fun. That’s why we have weekends and holidays and at least two weeks of vacation every year. Just because your association often deals with the professional side of your members doesn’t mean it can’t get in on some of the fun too! Taking a break from serious topics, blatant promotional material and standard-but-important association updates is a key factor in drawing your members to your organization on any day and for any occasion. Incorporating some fun into your activities will means members don’t just see you as a business investment, but a life investment.

The most obvious point to start integrating some fun into your association’s marketing efforts is with social media and gamification. We’ve covered how association’s can use gamification in social media to engage members in a prior blog post, but the message boils down to being creative and focusing on achieving elements of play, such as rewards or mystery, while relating it to your association. Another way to help your members have fun on social media is to post an interesting, funny or motivational quote from someone in the industry on Twitter or Facebook. Additionally, you can write a blog post that combines the aforementioned practical advice with fun elements, such as a list of the top 10 songs your members can work to or the top five movies that depict members of your association’s industry.

Encourage Discussion

Most people life having a say in their lives, which means your association can’t create a lifestyle by never asking for the input of its members. Getting your members engaged and contributing to your association’s activities gives them a stake in the outcome of decisions. Your members will be more likely to attend events or use a service when they feel like they have had a hand in shaping these elements of your association. When members are a part of the process, it becomes more than faceless communiques and throwing money at membership; it becomes part of their life and everyday thoughts.

Social media is the perfect forum for getting your members engaged and contributing to an ongoing discussion about the efforts of your association. Have a Twitter chat about an issue in your industry or association, live-blog/tweet your annual conference, interview members on YouTube and ask for comments on the video or create a “Digital Idea Wall” on Pinterest of Facebook. All of these social media efforts will give a voice to your members and keep them engaged and loyal to your association.

Three More Ways To Engage Conference Attendees Through Social Media

Integrating social media into your association’s conference strategy is something we’ve talked about before and your organization may be old pros by now at using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., while at an event. You might be so used to live-tweeting updates or posting daily recaps of the conference on your blog that it seems tired and your attendees are losing interest. This is why innovation and fresh ideas are the gas that make the engagement train run.

Just like with membership drives, calls to action for lobbying or volunteer recruitment, your association needs to utilize some new approaches to attendee engagement to keep the attention of members. Luckily, we’ve put together three ideas that will give your conference a boost and allow your association to better engage its attendees.

Twitter Monitor

You might have seen this before at a conference or an event of some kind; a monitor showing tweets that use the event hashtag. When one of your attendees, speakers, sponsors or staff tweets out a comment using the hashtag, it appears on the monitor, which is usually set up in a high-traffic area, such as registration or by a networking space.

The Twitter monitor has a few benefits when it comes to attendee engagement. First, it encourages attendees to tweet with comments, pictures or videos of the event because of the 15-minutes-of-fame factor. Attendees can point to their tweet being broadcast to their colleagues and marvel in the novelty factor. Second, the Twitter monitor makes the social media platform even more accessible. Not all your members are on Twitter, so including them in this part of the event through a very public display of tweets can only boost engagement. Lastly, it is a great networking tool you can offer attendees. Their tweets have a better chance of being seen and noticed, which is a great conversation starter between to people who are eager to network.

There are a few different approaches that your association can take with this strategy depending on your budget and technological prowess. You can simply set up a large computer or TV monitor and set it on Twitter to the event hashtag. If you’re looking for a higher-end experience, there are companies that will bring in a screen that looks like a phone and have a program in place to post relevant tweets to the screen throughout the day. Regardless of the method, you must ensure there is a strategy to monitor the tweets coming in; you don’t want any profanity or inappropriate posts making their way onto the big screen.

An Unofficial Association Twitter Account

The attendees of the event who are on Twitter probably know all about your association’s account. They follow the account, know the voice and tone that is used and know what to expect when the account is tweeting at an event. Why not switch things up by keeping the official Twitter account to provide updates, recaps, information and the like, while also creating an “unofficial” association account to inject some fun into the proceedings?

So what exactly is an “unofficial” association account? It is a satirical or parody account that has the benefit of not having to be quite as proper, informative or formal as the official account. For example, there is the Twitter account for the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) and there is a Twitter account for Ghost of ASAE. Similarly, there is the account for the PGA Tour’s RBC Canadian Open and an account for the RBC Trophy. The former are official accounts and latter are more fun, unofficial accounts.

So what is the benefit of these parody accounts? They let attendees have a bit more fun and cultivates a looser atmosphere for the event. Attendees can interact and follow along with the antics of the unofficial Twitter account while the account subtly promotes the event and the association. This increases engagement and gives attendees two views on the conference; one more education and one more entertaining.

A Digital Idea Wall

When we were at the CSAE’s Summer Summit in July, one of the best experiences we had was creating an idea wall. This activity included groups of 20 writing any idea they could think of to improve the CSAE on post it notes and sticking it to a large sheet of paper taped to the wall. At the end, the eight groups had come up with hundreds of great ideas and were asked to pick their top three, which we then talked about. It was a great exercise and one that can easily be transferred onto social media during your event.

The idea wall activity is one of those exercises that can be work both online and offline at your event. It may be a good idea to capitalize on having so many members in one place at one time by creating a physical idea wall that stands for the duration of the event. Take the momentum that is generated by this actual idea wall and turn it into a digital version that will spur engagement at the event and into the future. At the end of each day of the conference, take the ideas from the physical idea wall and make them into a collage on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and/or your blog. Generate conversation and engagement by asking questions about the collage and soliciting more ideas through social media. Keep it up after the conference by asking for more ideas or having a contest to see which idea members like best by having them vote via social media.

A digital idea wall has a few advantages for your association. It gives credit to those members who participated in the activity during the event, making it even more likely they will participate when it comes time for further opportunities. It was encourages members to interact with your association in a meaningful way, giving members a voice in the direction of the association. Lastly, it creates a talking point for attendees at your conference, which leads to more networking opportunities and more reasons for attendees to approach association representatives with ideas, thoughts and feedback.

How Associations Can Use Instagram Videos To Add Member Value

Instagram isn’t a a new player on the social media scene, having been around for more than five years, but associations are just now starting to explore the possibilities that the photo-sharing app provides.

A recent Association’s Now article highlighted Instagram’s growing popularity among membership organizations. The use of Instagram among associations has risen from from 19 per cent to 30 per cent in the past year and it appears that the upwards trend will continue.

Although Instagram is primarily a photo-sharing app, the video feature gives associations one more tool to use to boost their communications and marketing efforts. Instagram videos are restricted to a 15-second time limit, so a lot needs to be said in a quarter of a minute. Here are three ways associations can use this time wisely and provide value to their members.

Conference Programming Videos

There is a lot of programming packed into a short period of time at most association conferences. Instagram is a great way to capture the day that was in short, bite-sized portions of content that attendees can easily interact with.

There are many options for associations when it comes to what they can put into a 15-second video about conference programming. Film a couple key parts of an educational seminar or key note speech and edit them together to give Instagram users a good summary of the presentation. Put together a few frames that showcase a networking event or night of entertainment for attendees. You can even get in the habit of creating a quick video explaining the itinerary for the day for multi-day events.

Not only will these videos give attendees a chance to interact with the association, they are also a great way to promote several aspects of a conference and give attendees an opportunity to experience several parts of the event even though they couldn’t or didn’t go to every talk, trade show or meet-up.

“Tip of the Day” Videos

Part of the value that any association brings to members is being a guide on the path to a successful career and being a provider of accessible, high-quality information. Instagram videos are yet another way for associations to be a go-to resource for your members.

Your association has access to a mountain of information that is useful to its members. This is evident in the number of journal articles, magazine pieces, newsletters, conference education sessions and daily knowledge that the association puts together and gives to members for their benefit. Condensing come of this information into a 15 second video is a great way to provide value to members with taking up too much of their time or attention. Create a video telling members about a new app that could relate to them or summarizing new legislation that effects them. Include practical advice and solid information and your members will thank you.

“Did You Know”  Videos

There are products and services your association provides and members love to use and then there are products and services your association provides that are less popular. It doesn’t mean these offerings are bad, it might just mean members aren’t aware of it. Instagram videos can help members discover the extra value in your organization.

The “did you know” videos can work much the same way as the “tip of the day” videos. Highlighting an infrequently visited area of your website, explaining a new service your association provides or detailing the benefits of an offering can have a big effect on how people use them and, in turn, how much value they get from your association. For example, take members through the process of creating a job ad for their organization on the association’s job board. Once the process is demystified and made more accessible, it is more likely that more members will take advantage of the service. Once more members take advantage, they will receive more value.