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

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

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

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

Plan A Facebook Live Interview

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

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

Host A VIP Event

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

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

Create A Testimonial Video With A Twist

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

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

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.

How Associations Can Measure The Impact Of Social Media Marketing On Their Events

One of the biggest reasons associations use social media is for event promotion. It’s not hard to see why. Events are a big deal for member organizations. They make up a large portion of revenue and are one of the sole touch-points an association has with a large group of members over the course of a year. It certainly makes sense for organizations to throw a big part of their communications, including social media, behind such an element.
With this in mind, it’s important for associations to know which type of communication is working best and how to build a strategy around promoting events to maximize the resources available to them. This means that the results of an event marketing strategy on social media must be measurable in some way. The question of how to measure the impact of Twitter, Facebook, a blog, etc on conference registration and participation is crucial for the success and sustainability of associations, which is why we’ve tackled the subject in the paragraphs below.
Go With The Flow
If you are attempting to measure the impact of your association’s social media efforts on event promotion, the best place to start is by tracking the flow of online traffic. Raising awareness of your event among your target audience through social media is one thing, but converting these people from informed members to event attendees is the tangible outcome you are ultimately striving for. In order to know if this conversion is happening, you must figure out if the content you are posting online is driving traffic to sites where conference registration is taking place. One you discover how effective this path is from social media content to registration, you can start to formulate conclusions as to the success of the online communications strategy.
Tracking the flow of traffic can generally be done using Google Analytics. Accessing Google Analytics can be done yourself or by contacting your association’s website provider/management team. This tool tracks how website visitors entered the site and how they navigated around the site. Using this information, you can discover how many people came to your event’s registration page through Twitter, Facebook or blog links. More traffic to the registration page means a higher conversion rate for your social media and a higher return on investment.
Stick To Your Guns
Tracking the flow of web traffic is the primary way to tell if your social media efforts are having an impact on the success of an event, but there are a few ways to take the data your are already collecting from your online accounts and parse them to draw a better picture of your results. These pieces of data are generally used to analyze how your event is doing (or did) with engaging attendees and encouraging participation. Knowing your social media’s level of success with this task is crucial to determining if your event achieved enough buy-in to be sustainable in the long-term.
There are several specific pieces of data you can examine to discover the impact of social media on the engagement and participation of event attendees, many you may already be tracking as part of a regular reporting regimen. If your event has a hashtag, measure the number of times it was used, clicked on and what was said with the hastag. You can also track how many times your association’s posts with event-relevant content were favourited, shared or commented on. Lastly, tracking the number of target audience members (such as members or potential members) that become followers of your social media accounts in the days during and immediately after the event can help you determine if the event will have any long-term impact on the way people perceive the value they are extracting from the association.

Four Micro-volunteering Opportunities For Association Members On Social Media

Micro-volunteering has become all the rage in association circles and for good reason. Volunteering has always been a key tool for industry organizations because it lowers costs, gets members engaged and participating and improves services by adding a diverse and expert set of voices. The ever-growing, fast-paced reality of today’s world means fewer and fewer members are looking for the long-term commitment inherent in many association volunteer opportunities, such as sitting on a standing committee. However, members still want to get involved in helping their association, which is why micro-volunteering, the practice of volunteering in small increments of time, is growing in popularity.

It’s one thing to recognize this desire for micro-volunteering among members and another thing to find and provide these opportunities to them. Have no fear, we put together four social media-based micro-volunteering opportunities your association can offer to members. Here they are:

Moderate A Twitter Round Table

It’s always great to get an industry veteran on board with a volunteer opportunity, but some of the most well-known and well-respected people in the business are often busy or trying to refocus on family and leisure. Moderating a Twitter round table is a perfect way to include a senior member in a micro-volunteer position, capitalize on his/her clout among other professionals and add value for members by sharing the expertise of the moderator.

Contact a senior member of your association, preferably one that has a fair amount of experience on Twitter, and work with them to determine a topic and questions for the round table. Promote the round table to your association’s network, especially their ability to ask questions of the moderator and join in on the discussion. This planning session will probably take about an hour and the round table itself will usually run no more than an hour and a half for a total volunteer time of about two hours!

Manage An Account For The Day

This is a great opportunity to include all the different segments of your association’s membership into a micro-volunteering role. Recruit a student, a young professional, a veteran, a supplier/business member or any other demographic of member and have them post from the association’s Twitter, Facebook or Instagram account for a whole day. Not only is this fun and engaging for both the member and the audience, it also highlight’s your association’s connection and dedication to the type of member doing the posting.

This micro-volunteering opportunity doesn’t take much planning with the volunteer, but it does take some. Prior to the day, discuss generally what might make for some good posting with the volunteer, but don’t give specific guidelines as you want to give the volunteer some freedom to use their own point of view. Make sure they know what is acceptable and unacceptable to post. This planning process and the day of posting should only take up about two hours total for the volunteer.

Cover An Event Live On Social Media

This is a great opportunity for a member who wants to have a hand in shaping an association’s event without having to sit on a planning committee or get stuck at a registration area. Recruit a social media-savvy member to live-tweet an event, write blog post recaps or post on Facebook, Instagram, Vine or Snapchat during the event. Not only will this take pressure off your staff, but it will give an attendee’s-eye-view of what your association offers.

Before a volunteer or volunteers can cover an event live on social media, there has to be a small amount of planning. They need to know the schedule of events and which people and issues are the most important to highlight. This involves a quick email on your part a small amount homework on the volunteer’s part. While the event may take up one to three days, the social media aspect will only require a few hours from the volunteer, totalling altogether about four to five hours. You can even incentivize the opportunity further by giving your volunteer free or discounted access to the event!

Take Part In Social Media Tag

This is the easiest and quickest way for your association’s members to participate in a micro-volunteering opportunity. Association’s are always looking for a way to get the word out, promote their value and highlight the services they offer. Instead of having volunteers write long testimonials or sit on marketing and communications committees, have them play social media tag. This requires them to answer a question, such as, “What is the best reason for being a member of Association X?” and then tagging someone else on their social media platform to answer this question. It’s fun, easy, uses elements of gamification and helps spread the word about your organization.

Like we said above, this is the easiest and quickest form of micro-volunteering there is. It will not take a member more a minute or two to contribute to this cause, but it has the potential to have a long-lasting effect on how both members and potential members view your association.

The New Platform That Could Revolutionize The Way Non-profits Do Meetings

Camaraderie is one word often linked to associations and other non-profits. Being in an association means connecting with those who share your passion and working together with those people to strengthen a cause or an industry. It’s not uncommon for members to meet life-long friends or mentors through an organization.

Non-profit events are the place to go to find friendship and togetherness. Some of the best conversation and biggest brainstorms can come when members connect face-to-face. So why not have more meetings, events, conferences, etc.?

This is easier said than done. Events are expensive and take a lot of time and resources to coordinate, especially for non-profits with finite staff members and budget space.

That’s why Meetup is such a great platforms. Meetup is a site that bills itself as “neighbours getting together to learn something, do something, share something.” Basically, it is a platform where you can search for a group of like-minded individuals in your community who meet up, network and talk about their passion. And it has the potential to revolutionize the way non-profits serve their community.

Here are four ways Meetup can help raise your organization up and give your community an opportunity to thrive.

#1. Encourages Board Members to Get Involved

Your Board of Directors may be spread out across the province, state or country. Although they may want to help the organization and its community, sometimes they are limited to monthly or quarterly meetings because of geography.

One of the best features of Meetup is that a meeting can take place anywhere and anyone can plan one. The members of your Board can take advantage of this to coordinate a meeting with your non-profit’s community wherever they are. It’s a great way for the Board members to get involved, get to know the community and put their own mark on the organization.

#2. Empowers Local Chapters/Leaders

Members of national organizations likely share the same problem as Board members; they are spread far afield and chances to connect with others in the community are few and far between. Local chapters and leaders in the community may want to build up the organization, but lack the resources, time and know-how to do so.

Meetup gives these individuals an opportunity to organize a gathering of local members, share stories, take the pulse of the community, gain feedback and increase services. Engaging the local community is important to ensuring the larger organization enjoys a dedicated member-base that will keep coming back again and again. Meetup is a great way to start achieving this goal.

#3. Promotes Your Organization

Organizing a meetup, big or small, can bring more awareness to your non-profit and grow its community. Meetup is one more platform that gets the word out about your organization. Its search function makes it easy for those with an interest in the cause or industry to find a meeting you have planned.

Meetups are also a chance for current members of your organization’s community to show a friend or colleague what your non-profit has to offer. It’s a perfect place to connect with people that share the same interest as you and get to know the benefits of joining an organization full-time without formalities, a hard sell or a rigid schedule.

#4. Gives Members Some Freedom

The conference or event scene isn’t for everyone. Don’t get us wrong, events are amazing. They raise awareness, provide networking and learning opportunities and connect organizations with those in the industry. But sometimes people won’t attend because of limited financial resources, geography or a feeling that the event lacks relevancy for them.

Meetup can change all this by putting event planning in the hands of members. They can meet up, network and find solutions to shared problems in the setting they want, at a time they want. That can mean meeting for lunch every week to hear a professional speaker talk to the group or it can mean a monthly pub night. Organizing a meetup or helping members organize a meetup gives your organization the ability to connect with different demographics in an efficient and cost-effective way because it gives people the choice to network the way they want to network.

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There’s no telling what the future of event planning has in store, especially because each and every organization is different. Meetup offers a great option for non-profits searching for ways to connect its members with each other and the organization itself. Don’t forget to promote any meetups on your other social media platforms and follow up using your various social media channels.

Let us know what you think about Meetup and how you can see your organization using the site. And, as always, stay social!

Facebook Is 10: Why the Social Network is Still Near the Top of the Class

In social media circles, Facebook just became a senior citizen.

Facebook turned 10-years-old last Tuesday, a monumental milestone for the social media giant. Facebook has paved the way for a new wave of networking platforms and has changed the way companies, organizations and individuals connect to others in its decade-long reign as one of the internet’s titans.

Amidst all of Facebook’s past triumphs are recent questions about the site. Many are wondering if Facebook is in a permanent decline and the social network is fending off attack after attack on its future.

We still think Facebook can be a great tool for non-profit organizations to connect with the community, build relationships and grow. So in honor of Facebook’s 10th birthday, we’re bringing you 10 ways the platform can benefit organizations.

1. Photo Albums

Images can inspire many emotions and effectively send important messages. Both of these are beneficial to non-profits who want to draw new connections and serve current ones. Facebook gives a lot of flexibility when it comes to posting photos, allowing users to upload whole albums, tag people, caption the photo (including hashtags), share them and set the location. Numerous studies also show that Facebook posts generate the most engagement and click-through rate.

2. Contests

Contests can be an interesting and engaging way to connect with members, donors, volunteers and the community and increase awareness. Facebook is a great platform to launch social media contests, especially with its new rules, instated last year, that make competitions easier, cheaper and more effective.

3. Mobile Capability

Mobile usage has exploded in the last couple years and it only keeps growing. More than 50 per cent of mobile users use their mobile device as their primary internet source. Appealing to mobile users is, or should be, a big consideration for organizations.

Facebook has a strong presence on mobile with an easy-to-use app. The social network also develops and releases new apps often. This makes the social experience even easier and more engaging for users and more important for organizations looking to build connections.

4. Videos

Videos are a great way to tell stories and the popularity of Vine, Instagram and YouTube underline how important they are to social networking.

Facebook allows organizations to upload videos to their page, capitalizing on the effectiveness of the medium. Combined with the ease with which connections can comment and share on posts, Facebook’s video capabilities measure up quite well against those of other platforms.

5. “Donate Now” Button

Facebook introduced its “Donate Now” button almost two months ago, making it easier for people to give to non-profits and charities. Online giving increased by over 20 per cent in the last year and it continues to trend upward. The “Donate Now” Button helps organizations capitalize on this trend, makes giving easier, and strengthens relationships between non-profits and the community.

6. Event Planning

Getting the word out and coordinating the details of an event can be difficult. That is why Facebook’s event feature is so effective. It enables organizations to plan gatherings and convey information quickly and simply. It also allows attendees to spread the word themselves, helping initiatives grow and thrive. Last, but not least, Facebook’s event feature is unique among social media platforms. No such thing exists on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.

7. Hashtags

Hashtags help organizations appeal to a wider audience and gather great content to share to members and their other connections. While Facebook hashtags took a little while longer to catch on than their Twitter cousins, they are seeing wider acceptance in recent months. Facebook hashtags also keep them level with other social networks that also use hashtags.

8. Networking

Having a space to network with others is the big reason for people to be on social media. Giving people that space will draw people to your organization. Facebook is one of the best platforms to achieve this. Conversations on your organization’s page can be vibrant and sharing the contributions of others can be done in various, engaging ways. At the end of the day, your organization isn’t the only one who will be gaining new friends on Facebook, so will your members.

9. Turning Negative to Positive

Sooner or later, your organization is going to receive some negative feedback. Whether it’s blunt or thinly veiled, criticism is a way of life on social media. The real key is knowing how to deal with negative criticism. Facebook provides a great space to turn that negative into a positive. Other platforms are limited in the amount of characters or the medium you can use and this often limits an organization’s response. Facebook has very few limits and thus provides a forum to turn that frown upside down.

10. Promote Other Platforms

Many non-profits have a multi-faceted approach to social media, using several platforms to serve the community or members. Facebook is a great way to let others know about these other platforms. Promoting your blog, Twitter feed or an infographic you pin on Pinterest is just a click away on Facebook.

Facebook may be getting up there in years, but the social network hasn’t lost its appeal or its effectiveness for non-profits. Happy belated birthday Facebook!

What do you like about Facebook? What non-profits use the platform best? Let us know in the comments!