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.

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.

Let’s Face It, Social Media Might Be A Loss Leader For Your Association, But It’s A Leader Nonetheless

First thing’s first; social media can have a great return on investment for your association. It might not always be the traditional, financial, X-number-of-retweets-equal-Y-amount-of-revenue. It could have a money-focused tinge to it, but where organizations are going to see the biggest impact is in the formation of first impressions.

Let’s get the terminology out of the way right now. For those who don’t know what a loss leader is, it’s a product or service offered by an organization that doesn’t directly increase profit, but gets people in the door and investing in other areas. For example, companies will sell printers at a loss in order to stimulate sales of their ink cartridges. Social media can act much the same way.

Here’s the scenario; a non-member is on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/etc., and sees a colleague retweet/share/like a post from your association. The content they see from your account interests them or is a helpful resource. This may be their first impression of your association in action or their first impression of your association ever. They may connect with your account, see the value of the organization and invest in a membership, service or event. In that way, your association may bring in a handful of members through the great first impression it presents on social media. After all, people go online these days to meet information and its sources.

It’s great that social media brought new members into the fold, but let’s be honest, the revenue gained from these new members does not equal the money spent on it. However, word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool. If one person has a great experience with your association, they will tell colleagues, clients or staff. This may lead to further investments in membership and increased revenue. This great experience started with a great first impression; a warm, helpful greeting as a non-member enters into your association’s house. This warm greeting is called social media.

Let’s face it, social media might be a loss leader for your association. You might spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on it every year and not see that money come back to your organization in the form of direct revenue. That’s okay. It’s a service that your association offers to help members. It’s a tool to shine a spotlight on your association and its benefits. It’s an avenue to engage members and non-members alike as well as start a conversation with sponsors and policy makers. All those elements combine to bring people into the door, to drive traffic to your website and its registration page and give your community a chance to voice their positive feedback in a public forum.

Loss leader isn’t a dirty word. Yes, it implies your organization might lose money on this particular activity, but it also implies that it’s a leader. Social media can help lead your association on the right path, it can help guide members and non-members to the most helpful resources you have and it can give a boost to other areas of your organization’s revenue strategy.