3 Easy Ways To Give Your Social Media Account A Refresh

There’s a reason people become addicted to cleaning and organizing their homes and home makeover shows on television; it’s refreshing. Housework can give a cluttered space a new look and make everyone want to bask in the glow of a room that’s been changed for the better.

We applied this same thinking to social media accounts and came up with three easy ways any organization can give their platforms a refresh to attract eyes and win over the hearts of their audience.

Add A New Profile Picture

There’s no doubt that images catch the attention of social media users more than any other element. Your organization’s profile pictures are the most constant and recognizable images associated with your operation online and can help do everything from attract profile views to likes to website traffic. Creating a fresh profile picture is one way to give your social media account a vibrant, new look and get users, both old and new, engaging with your organization again. Try using different colours, showing off a different setting or, in regards to Twitter or Facebook, complimenting your profile picture with your display picture with a creative and fun play on space like these examples.

Put More Faces Front And Centre

This piece of advice also utilizes pictures and images to give your organization’s social media account a jolt of freshness. Faces perform very well in studies linking social media posts to engagement and can serve as a way for your organization to put its members, customers, staff or volunteers front and centre. Creating content that utilizes faces will also help you think of new ways to promote your organization and its efforts by framing them in a different perspective, one that seems more relatable to your target audience. Post testimonials, interviews, event pictures and other posts that have the potential to show faces.

Ditch The Dry, Rambling Description

You know that little box you filled out when you started your organization’s social media account that asked for a description of your organization and then you immediately forgot about it? Ya, you need to redo that description. The description, which is often a dry, rambling, short version of your organization’s mission, won’t catch too many eyes when they scroll through a list of potential connections. A streamlined version that hits all the right notes is way more likely to achieve your goals and will liven up a tired social media account. Look for singular words or very short phrases that explain your organization. Check out popular hashtags and ask your most loyal and active members, customers or volunteers to describe your organization in one, short sentence and use their feedback.

What Krispy Kreme and Target Can Teach Associations About Social Media

Some of the best ideas come from studying successful organizations and adapting their effective strategies, projects and culture for use in your own organization. But while success can often beget success, studying the failure of another company also has merit.

Analyzing where strategies went wrong and the root causes of unsuccessful initiatives can help associations learn how to avoid the same fate of another organization that had to be taught the hard way. It can also make the path to success much more clear.

Take for example two American companies and their not-too-distant attempts to corner the Canadian market that sputtered and faded away; Krispy Kreme Donuts and Target. Studying where these two behemoths went wrong can help associations tap into the realities of human behaviour and grasp what it takes to create a successful, engaging and sustainable social media plan.

Krispy Kreme

The Context

Krispy Kreme, the favourite donut shop of millions of American, entered onto the Canadian stage with much fanfare in the early 2000s. While Krispy Kreme was initially successful and mounted plans for expansion, the love affair between it and the Great White North cooled off enough for the company to nix these plans. While the company’s plans for expansion have recently been renewed, they face a challenge in capturing the hearts and minds (and stomachs) of Canadians once again as smaller, gourmet donut shops have exploded in popularity over the last decade. While Krispy Kreme’s venture into Canada may not be deemed a total failure, its inability to realize its grand plans while vastly smaller competition prospered are a little embarrassing for an international chain with a big budget.

The Lesson

The social media lesson that can be learned by associations from Krispy Kreme’s floundering expansion in Canada is that quality matters a lot more than quantity.

Krispy Kreme produces millions of donuts a year and while many like how they taste, there is rarely any innovation or variation, which leads to a been-there-done-that attitude from consumers. On the other hand, smaller, gourmet donut shops use fresh ingredients to create unique pastries that pique the imagination of their customers, creating a brand and a product that can’t be found anywhere else. While their volume is less, their quality is higher and their return in greater.

Associations should create a social media strategy that seeks to produce content that is innovative, unique, engaging and valuable, even if they don’t have the resources to produce lots of it. Instead of daily tweets or Facebook posts that regurgitate press releases or quote magazine articles verbatim, create posts that use numbers, videos, visuals and testimonials to give members an experience they’ll want to be a part of and truly paints a picture of your association’s efforts to improve their lives. Make a movie trailer for the annual conference or put out a call on social media for a scavenger hunt within your association’s magazine. Whatever it is, be creative, be different, be focused on high quality content and be tuned into what members really want.

Target

The Context

Target’s foray into Canada was one big mess, from beginning to end. The company opened too many stores, too fast and customers were greeted by empty shelves, poor deals and an underwhelming experience. While Target’s opening in Canada was much anticipated, the company fell short and Canadian shoppers went back to buying from their usual spots. The monster-sized chain lost money rapidly while the stores continued to decline and less than two years after the first Canadian Target opened, the company pulled out completely. Needless to say, it was a massive failure for Target.

The Lesson

Target bit off way more than they could chew with the Canadian expansion and the product suffered because of it. Associations would do well to remember this example and not repeat this mistake on social media.

While keeping up with the latest trends in technology and social networking is important for any organization, it is never a good idea to branch out onto new platforms too fast. For example, if your association has a successful Twitter account, you may be tempted to start an account on Facebook, create an Instagram account and develop a bi-weekly blog to capitalize on the engagement your efforts are generating. However, if this expansion is done too quickly and without a proper analysis of demographics, strategy, expectations, guidelines and available resources, you can end up watering down the quality of your content and driving away your target audience. Start slowly by creating a new blog and as that develops and as resources dictate, add another platform to your strategy.

Associations need to remember to resist the urge to jump on the social media bandwagon of a new platform because of its trendiness in the news. Stick with what made your digital media strategy work and look for incremental ways to branch out and develop relationships with your target audience in that way.

3 Ways To Use Social Media To Prove Networking Really Is A Benefit At Your Association

Almost every association that exists prides itself on its ability to provide quality networking opportunities to members. They trumpet this benefit whenever they can and use this line about networking to recruit members, boost event registration and get buy-in from young professionals.

This focus on networking is done for very good reasons. According to a 2014 report by Wild Apricot, networking was the number one reason members joined associations. For their part, associations seem to be listening to the needs of their members because that same report indicated that “networking events” were the second most prevalent program/service that associations provide (a close second to member education and professional development).

With all this hullabaloo about networking, the association industry’s excellence at it and members’ insistence it be a main benefit of joining an organization, it seems like associations would have definitive and in-depth proof that being a member actually leads to more networking opportunities and that these opportunities lead to a better career.

Unfortunately, it is often the case that associations dole out vague claims about their networking superiority such as “This networking event gives you the chance to connect with over 500 industry professionals!” or “Our association coordinates more than eight networking nights a years for members!”

It’s time associations work to back up these networking claims so when a potential member says “Oh ya, prove it!” to your claims, you really can prove it. Here’s how social media can help you on this quest.

Tell A Story

There is no better way to illustrate the impact of your association’s networking efforts than to personalize it and make it relatable. The way to accomplish this is to tell a story and social media is the perfect medium to do so.

One way to tell a story about a networking success is to find two members who met during a networking opportunity hosted by the association and who became friends, partners or mentor/mentee. Interview these two members and write a blog post about it or create a YouTube video. You can even make it a running series that showcases several sets of members who have benefited from your association’s networking prowess. These stories take your claims from vague possibilities to concrete realities and are more engaging than brochure-like slogans.

Craft An Experience

It’s a constant refrain on business blogs and at association conferences; quality service is not enough anymore, you need to give people an experience. Association’s work hard to make networking opportunities an experience, but it’s time to go a step further and make promoting these opportunities an experience in itself.

Give members a taste of what an association networking event is life by entrusting your social media to a responsible member so they can embark on a live play-by-play of their networking experience. They can take pictures of the environment, the number of people who have gathered and who they met and talked to throughout the event and. They can even share some quotes or nuggets of wisdom from their conversations with the people they networked with. They can post all of this on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat or write a blog about it later. This strategy shows people, in real time, what is not only possible, but is actually happening at a networking event and benefits of your association’s efforts.

Make It a Challenge

Everyone likes a little friendly competition, so why not make networking a game of sorts for your members. Gamification is a huge buzzword and its concept is not a passing fad because it’s hardwired into our human brains. Take advantage of this strategy and apply it to social media to illustrate to those watching that your association can lead to a networking win.

One way to gamify networking on social media is to create a contest wherein members post who they met or talked to at an event on social media. For each post about a new person they networked with, they get a chance to win a prize. Keep track of the posts and make it more engaging/fun by coming up with a hashtag for the event, such as #OneFriendIMet. After the competition is all said and done, use these content from the contest to create even more promotional material for your association’s networking benefits. This can include concrete stats about how many people an average person networks with at your events or can even be the foundation for creating a Humans-of-New-York-type Facebook album. The possibilities for extending this content is endless!

4 Ways Associations Can Promote Their Magazines On Social Media

Associations and magazines are almost inseparable. The vast majority of membership organizations produce and distribute monthly, quarterly or bi-annual publications with articles, updates, editorials, profiles and other content in order to educate and engage their audience. The history of many magazines stretch back decades and, in some cases, more than a century.

However, the humble, but powerful trade magazine has encountered a huge identity crisis over the last two decades as digital age has evolved. Google, social media and free information has led to less interest and less value in trade magazines, meaning fewer ad sales and messy bottom lines for some organizations.

This is isn’t a eulogy to association magazines, but rather a call to adapt. By harnessing the power of digital instead of fighting against it, these publications can once again stand tall in the eyes of members. Here are four ways associations can promote their magazines on social media to increase reach and viewership in order to prove to advertisers and board members that publications are a valuable tool for success.

Video Follow Up Discussions

An article in your association’s magazine doesn’t need to be the end of the road for that topic. After all, most articles are limited by space and have the views of usually only a handful (or less) of people. Don’t get us wrong, the magazine’s articles are no doubt comprehensive, engaging and well-written, but often times people have questions or there are other views or details that can be added to the issue addressed in the publication.

This is when videos come in very handy. After the magazine has been released, pick one to three articles and do a follow up video as a companion piece to the original article. Do an interview with the author or subject of the article or bring together an expert panel to talk about an issue addressed by the original article and film the discussion. If the article is a profile of a member or a company, visit them and do a day-in-the-life video. Put the videos on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and any other platform your association uses along with links to the article, information about the magazine and a prompt to contribute to the discussion in order to drive traffic and increase the exposure of the magazine.

Polls And Quotes On Twitter

Let’s be honest, when your members are browsing the paper or online version of your magazine, they often look at the headlines and maybe the first couple sentences before deciding if it’s worth a read or not. Most of the time, it’s not worth the read and the reader keeps flipping through the publication, missing engaging content and dealing damage to key performance metrics that advertisers pay attention to.

Twitter is a great way to give your association’s readers a second chance to discover the quality content lurking inside its magazine. The platform is a key way to improve on that misleading and unimpressive first impression your members may have of articles. For example, post a poll on Twitter related to one of the articles in the magazine, along with a link to that article. A poll will generate interest and discussion while giving a brief and interesting synopsis of the article, which increases interest and readership. Another tactic is to post an interesting quote or snippet from the article as a tweet along with a link to the article. Readers may have missed the intriguing bit of the article and be convinced to give it another chance.

Facebook Albums

Many recipients of association magazines open up their publications to see waves and waves of text starring back at them. Although those words are of high quality and often accompanied by pictures, they usually don’t jump off the page and grab the reader and can often overwhelm people. When they become overwhelmed, readers often shut down and give up on an article and the whole magazine.

This is why emphasizing the publication’s images on social media can do wonders to readership levels. As the saying goes, pictures can say 1,000 words. They can also convince your members to read 1,000 words or more. Create a Facebook album on your association’s page for each issue of the magazine that comes out. Represent each article or section of the magazine with a solid, well-planned photo that tells the story in an image. In the description/caption, include a short synopsis, summary, snippet or headline and a link to the article. An image will draw people in and pique their interest much more often then a flashy headline or an insistence to do so. It will also allow readers to browse the contents of the magazine much easier, giving them an incentive to check in and read up.

Instagram Contests and Activities

Associations can sometimes go months without releasing another issue of their magazine, which means that they are out of sight and out of mind for members. This results in a rocky relationship with the publication and creates the risk that its relevance will disappear among members.

That’s where a good Instagram contest or activity can save the day. For example, you can have a contest for each issue asking members to submit a photo. The best one can grace the cover of the next issue of the magazine and can be entered to win a Best Cover prize at the end of the year, as voted on by members (once again, via Instagram). Another idea is to post an industry-focused problem or a photo on Instagram and ask members to submit an answer to the query or a funny caption for the photo. These submissions can then be put in a special Member Section or Social Media Section in the next issue of the magazine. Not only will members race to see if their submission is put in the magazine, but it will also create a chance for fun content and will keep the magazine top of mind during the interim periods between issues.

One Of The Easiest Ways Associations Can Increase Reach And Engagement On Social Media

We can say all we want about wanting to educate members or produce quality content that provides value, but when it comes right down to it, social media for associations is all about getting eyes on your message and then converting those people from passive viewers to active and engaged audience members. All the rest of your objectives, while very noble and worthwhile, flow from achieving these two goals.

When you understand this concept, you can start to work towards achieving an expanded reach and more engagement in order to accomplish your association’s other missions, such as drawing more people to your annual conference or getting more members to participate in an advocacy campaign.

Building a broader network and generating more engagement is often a slow process that happens over time, but there are a few ways to mildly jump-start the strategy. One of the best ways to do this is to add pictures or images to your posts.

In a case study of one of our clients, we looked at the previous two months worth of tweets and compared those posts with larger images attached to those posts with thumbnail-sized images and posts with no images at all.

What we found was that those tweets with a large, high-quality photo attached to it average 93% more impressions (or reach) than those posts with a small photo or no photo at all. Furthermore, we discovered that the average number of interactions also increased, this time by a whopping 155%, when tweets featured a large image as opposed to a small image or no image at all.

Our client is not alone in experiencing the power of images; one study reported that 93% of the most engaging posts on Facebook are images. Another piece of research found that content that included compelling images averaged 94% more views than their text-dependent counterparts. This is true of tweets, Facebook posts, blog posts, LinkedIn articles, pins on Pinterest and most other social media posts. Images jump out to the average social media user among a wall of text and a really good photo can convince someone to stop and invest their time in reading your message and sharing it.

The magic of a picture is very real and your association should be taking advantage of it when it comes to its social media and other online communications channels. Take lots of pictures around the office, at events and when you are out and about. Don’t stretch too far, but if there is an opportunity to illustrate a point in your tweet with a photo (for example, attaching an image of your organization’s magazine when posting an article from that magazine) go full steam ahead with it.

Make sure your photos are (once again) relevant, clear, interesting, vibrant and relateable. When you buy into this approach, your communications and marketing with greatly improve and both you and your members will benefit immensely.

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.

Why You’re Looking At Social Media ROI All Wrong

The most recognizable approach to analyzing return on investment usually includes seeing black ink, a plus sign or an increased bottom line. You put a certain number of dollars into a project and calculate how many dollars that project brings in. That approach is deeply flawed when it comes to social media marketing.

Let’s leave the online medium alone for a minute and visit the farmer’s market. Let’s say you walked into your local market to buy apples with $2 in your pocket. One stall you walk by is selling apples at five for $1 and the another purveyor is selling the fruit at six for $1. It’s a fairly obvious assumption that you would give your business to the second farmer.

It is through this example that we can begin to truly understand how to truly and effectively measure social media ROI. In the apple story, the money you have in your pocket is your investment. The number of apples you can buy with that investment is the return. You receive a higher return with the second business than the first (12 apples to 10). Social media ROI is akin to this logic. The amount of money/time/resources you put into social media is your investment and the amount of engagement/reach/traffic you receive is your return.

Too often, we think of return on investment as a monetary figure. However, in the example above, you invest $2 and get food in return instead of money. This trade-off is still valuable and, ultimately, probably more valuable that cash (a person’s got to eat, right?). This is the mindset all organizations must have when parsing the data and determining social media ROI.

For example, your association should not try to figure out how much member dues revenue its Twitter account is bringing in. Nor should a small local coffee shop attempt to draw a correlation between its food sales and its Instagram efforts. Rather, these organizations need to calculate just how efficient their resources are and where they can maximize benefit while maintaining their investment.

Instead of measuring financial gains or losses from its financial investment in social media (which is often a misguided approach if you are not paying someone on a full-time dedicated basis or on a contract for social media), your organization should look to measure the impact of their online efforts compared to its content input.

For example, how many impressions are you generating on the average tweet over the period of a month? How much traffic is being directed from your Facebook links to your organization’s website on a daily basis? What is the conversion rate between mentions on Twitter and those people you mentioned interacting with or following the account?

Once you have determined these numbers and other similar stats, you must compare month to month and see where your strengths and weaknesses lie. After determining these elements, you need to determine why the successful periods were a success and why the numbers lagged at other times. Is it the hashtags or keywords you used? Was it the time of day you posted? Was it the type of content you posted about? Once you have determined the factors that went into the successful posts, it is time to duplicate their style, voice, intent, structure, etc in order to emulate the success.

If you follow this process, you are more likely to see a rise in engagement, reach, traffic and all the other indicators of a healthy social media presence while maintaining the amount of time, money, posts, staff, etc that go into your social media efforts. This is a valuable return on investment, one that doesn’t set unrealistic goals of making money off blog posts or YouTube videos.

So next time you visit the grocery store or take a bite out of an apple, remember this lesson about ROI and its moral of shifting your perspective.