How To De-clutter Your Association’s Social Media Portfolio

It’s a situation that’s all too common; several months or years ago, someone at your association wanted to get the organization on social media and as well-intentioned as they were, they created a Facebook and Twitter account without a proper planning phase. Between then and now, a couple other accounts for your association were created while older versions were abandoned or were rarely touched without being shut down.

Now your association has two Twitter accounts, a few Facebook pages, a couple LinkedIn groups and a random Instagram or YouTube account that is barely ever updated, if ever. That’s not to mention the numerous untended accounts created by chapters, boards, well-meaning volunteers, committees, events or any other leftover or spontaneous-and-now-defunct movements from within your association.

This social media clutter is a real brand-killer. It makes your association look an amateur, it drains resources and takes eyes, traffic, engagement and credibility away from the quality content your association is trying to put out on social media.

If this sounds like your organization, it’s time to do some cleaning. Rolling up your sleeves and determining what accounts can be thrown out and which ones should be polished up is a big undertaking. Here are a few tips for making the process of de-cluttering your association’s social media portfolio easier and much more effective.

Check The Stats

The first step in separating the contenders from the pretenders in your social media portfolio is to examine which accounts are healthy and which ones have withered on the vine by analyzing the data. It’s important to look a few key elements of how each account has performed for the association in order to chose which ones make the grade and advance to the next stage of the process.

First of all, you need to check and see which accounts have the biggest audience (whether that’s followers on Twitter/Instagram, likes on Facebook, subscribers on YouTube, etc). The bigger the audience, the more potential the account has to your association. Next, you need to measure engagement. Which accounts are receiving more frequent engagement and higher quality engagement (shares and traffic as opposed to a simple ‘like’). The higher the engagement level, the more likely that account is to thrive moving forward. Lastly, gauge each account’s posting frequency. The more often an account is used, the more likely the audience is going to be engaged and the less work you need to do to cultivate audience loyalty and attention in the future.

Put Your Content To The Test

The part on posting frequency in the section above is especially important to the next step of this social media de-cluttering project; putting your content to the test. By now, you have most likely cut out a few accounts in your portfolio and need to thin the herd a little more. If it seems like your association needs more than one account on each platform (for example, a main account, an account for events, an account for chapters, etc.), it’s crucial that you have enough content for each account to keep your audiences engaged and thus make it worth your while to invest resources in each account.

Some of the accounts you have already looked at may have posted content very rarely and sporadically (for example, once every three weeks, except for that time four months ago when someone posted 10 times in a week). This may be because of inattentive, overwhelmed or under-qualified staff or it could be because there just wasn’t enough content to justify a separate account. To determine if you will have enough content to validate an account, create a rough content calendar for that account that covers the next one to three months. If you can fill the calendar with frequent posts and if the content contains a fair amount of information only pertaining to that account, then it’s justified. If not, it’s probably not worth your resources.

For example, you may think you need a separate Twitter account for your big conference or for each chapter of your association, but if there isn’t enough content to post about only the event or the chapter consistently, you may be better served to incorporate information about these facets of your organization into your main Twitter account.

Have A Transition Plan

The final step of your de-cluttering project requires you to turn your eyes from the past to the present and the future by crafting a transition plan. At this point, you have probably decided which accounts you’d like to cast off and the ones you want to keep around. The final step is making it official, but it’s very important not to go too fast or you may end up negating all the work you have done and making your future efforts even harder. Before you delete any accounts, create new ones or start to build on existing ones, it’s important to have a plan in place in order to retain as many audience members as possible and make the transition a smooth one to hit the ground running, maximize engagement and make efficient use of resources.

The most important part of this transition plan is to figure out how you will bring as many members of your audience as possible from the doomed accounts to the chosen accounts. Make use of as many communication avenues as possible to get the word out and help with this migration, such as newsletters and other publications, emails, email signatures, word of mouth, committees, your board of directors and, most importantly, posts on your soon-to-be-deleted accounts notifying followers of your impending move (this is where pinned posts come in handy).

Next, you should develop strategies to make your chosen accounts more robust and engaging, which can include refreshing its design, building a diverse and valuable lineup of content, creating a schedule for the use of resources and a plan to integrate several aspects of older accounts into one, new account. Give yourself and your followers some time to transition and once you are happy with the process, make it final by deleting the old accounts. The breathe a breath of fresh air!

3 Easy Ways For Associations To Connect With Their Target Audience On Social Media

Whether you’re just starting a social media account for your association or your organization is an old pro at the medium, connecting with your target audience is a never-ending process that is crucial to the success of your online marketing efforts. Building an audience, increasing reach, boosting engagement and finding quality content are just four reasons out of dozens that you will want to be connecting with more and more people and organizations on a continual basis.

This goal is easier said than done. When you are starting a new account, connecting with the plethora of prospects can seem like an overwhelming task and when you’ve been doing it for a while, it’s understandable to think you’ve tapped out your audience and accept the plateau.

These struggles are real, but we have a few strategies you can try to increase your audience and connect with your association’s target demographic.

Make It Part Of Any Registration Process

In any given year, your association’s members have to fill out a handful of forms. Whether it’s event registration, membership renewal, volunteer applications, award nominations or magazine, newsletter or blog articles, your members send personal information to your organization all the time. Asking for someone’s social media handles, just like you ask for their email address or phone number, on any forms or communication is a very simple way to scout for online connections.

Your association may have connected with many of these people before taking this step, but there are always people who slipped through the cracks or who are new to the industry or social media that you can find out about this way. It also saves you the time of going on a hunt for hidden social media connections and gets your members thinking of connecting with your association themselves.

Comb Through The Friends Of Your Friends

If your association has been on any social media platform for even a couple months, there are surely accounts that post regularly and that you go to first when searching for the latest and most relevant news and content. Use these dependable friends of yours to connect with your target audience by mining their list of connections.

Pick five of the most relevant and active users that you follow or that follow you and take a look at who follows them and who they are following. This list will give you some great insight and will most likely yield a lot of social media users that you have not included in your list of connections. Because you have chosen a social media account with goals and content that are most like your own, these new connections are more likely to reciprocate this connection, engage with you, provide great content and become part of your community.

Seek Out Those People Who Talk Like You

One of the ways for associations to be successful on social media, amongst the millions of accounts and multitude of posts, is to find their niche and relay specialized, high-quality content on a consistent basis. Within this strategy is another method of making connections with your organization’s target audience. Find out what topics you specialize in, talk about the most and that generate the most engagement and then find the people who are also talking a lot about these topics.

Take a look at a large sampling of your most recent posts and analyze which hashtags, words, type of media and topics you post about and that get the most engagement. Once you have discovered these popular clusters, search for people using this same collection of language and content on any given social media platform. You will probably end up finding a few people who are interested in these niche issues and who your association can connect with. This process may be a little more time consuming than the previous two strategies, but it will be most likely to guide you to a small number of highly active and relevant social media users ready to embrace your community and make an impact on your efforts.

Three Ways To Get Quality Images To Use On Social Media

The cliche ‘A picture says 1,000 words’ needs some updating for the digital age. We’re thinking something along the lines of, ‘A picture gets 1,000 views.’ That’s because in today’s age of social media marketing, images sell and they sell big. Pictures and video dominate timelines and capture many times more engagement than plain, old text.

Knowing the power of images is one thing, but obtaining these images is another thing all together. Associations, non-profits and small businesses can often be left wondering how to get high quality images to use across multiple platforms, whether that be for an Instagram post, a Facebook profile picture or a Twitter update.

There are a variety of ways to get top-notch images to use on social media and chose three of the easiest, effective and accessible ways to do so below.

Create Them Yourself

This one is fairly obvious, but many people don’t believe they have the skill or expertise to take quality images to use on social media. We’re here to tell you that’s a lie; you can and should be taking pictures all the time to add to your online accounts. You don’t need to be a professional photographer or an artsy individual to take some great photos. Make sure you have a decent camera (even a new phone camera will work perfectly) and go to work snapping some photos. Set aside a day or 15 minutes every day to take photos and stockpile them for use in content, a new profile picture or for an online promotion. If you really are not confident in your picture taking abilities, don’t try to be fancy. Take pictures of real situations that you and others can relate to, such as pictures of your colleagues, volunteers at work or someone interacting with particular product that you are really proud of.

Crowdsource Them

One of the most important lessons you should know about any aspect of social media and content marketing is that you’re not in it alone. There are hundreds and probably thousands of people who care about the same issues, products, services and opinions you are sharing on social media. If you have trouble creating images yourself, put out the call to your loyal following to help you out. For example, if you are an association that wants to have photos of its members at work, but it is too time-consuming and/or expensive to visit members on the job, put out a call on your various social media accounts for members to send in a photo of themselves at the office. You can even give them some incentive in the way of a photo contest. However you go about achieving this, just know that crowdsourcing images a great way to get quality pictures from a variety of different perspectives for future content creation while engaging your target audience.

Hit Up Unsplash

If you’re hankering for a truly stupendous photo to illustrate a point, such as a stunning panorama of nature or the perfect shot of a bustling city, don’t just Google it; visit Unsplash.com. First of all, taking pictures from Google images often infringes on copyrights and the photos taken from Google are often low quality anyway. Instead, Unsplash offers visitors a place to search and use open-source photos from photographers from around the world. You can almost always find a stunning photo that captures the mood or vision you want to convey on Unsplash with none of the photo-stealing guilt. All the photos are high-resolution and ready to drop into any social media material you have in mind.

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!

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.

What Facebook’s Newest Features Mean For Associations

Facebook had the whole internet talking last week with the arrival of the social network’s latest feature, which was the addition of new “reactions” to supplement the iconic ‘like’ button. Now, users can also hit buttons signifying love, a laugh, surprise, sadness and anger.

So, what does this mean for the way marketers create and post content, especially for those working in the association industry? Well, the short answer is, not much. There will be no seismic shift in the way associations post on Facebook because of this expansion of emotional expression. Organizations will continue to post the same content they always have with the same goals. However, the impact of this content is definitely going to change.

More Data

Data is the name of the game for associations. They must adapt to provide for the wants and needs of a very niche market (their members). Knowing exactly what these value propositions are, as well as how to provide them, requires data. The new reactions featured on Facebook allow associations to collect more data on the thoughts and feelings of their target audience by examining how they feel about certain issues on a higher level. By collecting this data, association can use the numbers to determine the best course of action to take in others areas of their operation.

This calls for an example. An association may post many articles, blog posts, etc on a variety of topics across several months. When it comes time to build a roster of speakers and topics for a conference, a webinar series, certification courses or even content ideas for a magazine and other publications, the broad range of data that the new Facebook reactions provide can help strengthen the association’s efforts. Examining what members thought of each piece of content posted on Facebook, and going beyond the basic ‘like’, can provide the association with a better understanding of what members found valuable, surprising or in need of further explanation. These numbers are part of a wider base of member insights that can lead the association to more valuable offerings.

Better Reach

Getting to know your members better is an admirable quality in an association, but social media also has the ability to extend your organization’s reach, drawing attention to both its general mission and value, as well as to specific areas of interest and engagement for members. In short, social media can let the world know more about your association than it might otherwise know because of its accessibility and exposure factor.

If an extended reach is the goal, then, the new Facebook reactions can help you achieve this goal. The ‘like’ button was a great way for members to engage in an association’s content, one that helped splash your organization’s name further and wider, but it wasn’t appropriate for all circumstances. For example, when posting about the death of a long-time member or a new law that might hinder your members, the ‘like’ button is not an adequate way to respond. This led to less interaction/engagement and a decreased reach. However, now that your members can express a broader range of emotions, they are more likely to interact with a variety of different posts on different topics. An interaction, such as a sad or angry reaction, will have your post circulating to more Facebook feeds and thus, being seen by more people.