Social media, we’ve all heard of it, but is your organization making the most out of it? If you’re like many other associations, you may think that social media is only good for individual recreation and enjoyment; however, social media allows businesses and associations to expand their marketing strategies.
Social media marketing has changed the way associations connect with their members and followers. When marketing content is shared by followers on social media platforms, associations generate attention through electronic word-of-mouth. Social media marketing is a simple way to share content, as many members are already very comfortable with using different social media sites. Almost everyone uses some form of social media, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. This is a huge advantage for associations, as they can easily increase brand awareness and generate site traffic. Social media marketing is an easy way to generate engagement and is fairly inexpensive for associations on a budget.
How do associations employ social media marketing successfully? They generate a social media marketing strategy - a plan that determines everything the association wishes to do and achieve by using social media. It may seem fairly uncomplicated, but many associations don’t know where to start when it comes to social media so we’ve broken it down in three stages.
Some associations don’t have social media profiles, or if they do they may not have many followers, updates, or engagement. If that sounds like your organization, this section is for you.
- Choose which networks to use. As social media evolves, more and more networking platforms are being created. It may seem like a daunting task, but it is crucial for associations to properly determine which sites to utilize. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are some common sites associations and non-profits use to share their content.
- Fill out your profiles. Fill out your profile with your organization's logo, tagline, mission statement, and contact information so that people know who you are and what you're about.
- Follow other relevant profiles. Follow other users that are relevant to your organization to keep up with the latest industry trends. You should follow leaders in your space, sister organizations, and potentially your members.
- Encourage others to like and follow your profiles. Social media platforms are nothing without followers. Encourage your staff, colleagues, and members to follow and like your organization's social media profiles.
- Profile your audience. Another way to successfully use social media marketing is to profile your audience. You can do this by measuring the success of specific posts. Many social media platforms offer real-time metrics that provide associations with feedback regarding its posts. By measuring these metrics, associations can weed out unsuccessful content and continue to share posts that are deemed successful. By generating posts that followers are interested in, the rate of which these posts are shared is increased dramatically, resulting in member engagement and electronic word-of-mouth.
Let’s say your association has social media basics down. You created profiles, you have some followers, and you post every once in awhile, but you’re not really seeing the benefit of social media marketing yet. Try a few of these tactics to develop a stronger social media presence.
- Develop a posting strategy. Once the proper social media platforms have been selected, it’s important to use them properly and effectively, which can be done by using posting schedules. Your association should focus on using its most important social media networks first. Once these schedules have been established, you may add new sites if necessary. When it comes to posting on these platforms, it’s important to remember it’s about the quality of the posts, not the quantity. The purpose of these schedules is to understand the type of content your the association wishes to share, and how frequently this should be done.
- Listen to trends in your industry. Social media allows associations to be vigilant of industry trends that are occurring around them. In order to see and understand these trends, associations should always follow similar social media accounts. What is trending or important to your industry will be important to your followers.
- Use hashtags to your advantage. It’s 2016, almost everyone is aware of the importance of the hashtag. This little symbol connects social media users with one word or phrase. You can follow topics related to your industry via popular hashtags or create your own for events or promotions. By doing this, your association can create a theme that connects every post to one another, establishing a sense of unity. Hashtags not only connect followers, but they allow for the association to have a little fun.
- Develop your social voice. Social media is the perfect way to connect with and reach out to members. It’s crucial for your organization associations to create and develop its voice. What message does your association want to promote? What do you want all of your followers to get from your posts? By developing a specific tone and voice, your association can promote its message and create a prominent social media presence.
Your association just gets social media. You don’t have to convince your executives that it’s a necessary marketing tactic. You post on a regular basis, your posts get retweeted, and your members engage with you on your social platforms. What else could you possibly be doing?
- Define your social media marketing objectives. Create and implement marketing objectives and goals. Are you using social media to recruit more members? Is the goal to get current members more engaged with your organization? Or are you using social media for brand awareness? Keep these goals and objectives very specific. They should be challenging, but attainable. By doing this, you associations can easily measure success.
- Test your tactics. The testing phase of a social media marketing strategy is incredibly important. Not only does this show your audience something new, but it determines whether these new initiatives are successful. When testing new tactics, test one item at a time. This will allow you to determine whether the isolated item made a positive change. The key to social media is to keep it fresh and new, rather than old and stale. Popular testing points include time of the day, shortened versus full length hyperlinks, pictures versus text, and different relevant hashtags.
- Determine what metrics are important to you. Social media platforms sites provide users with real-time metrics, allowing your association to measure what strategies are working. However, you must determine what you want to measure. Typical metrics include impressions, likes, shares, comments, and favorites.
As technology continues to evolve, it’s vital for associations to keep up. By utilizing social media as a form of marketing, associations can connect with current and prospective members and their industries in different ways.
If you're interested in learning more ways to engage current and prospective members, check out our white paper: What Good Is an Association Without Members?