To Infinity and Beyond: Boosting Your Reach with Social Media
Social media is one of the most important marketing tools available to an association–especially those looking to improve their visibility. For many members (both current and potential), social media is the first place they’ll look when trying to communicate with an association. When used to its full potential, this medium allows organizations to employ a strategic and persistent marketing plan without appearing overbearing.
Social media can also help associations build better relationships with their members and establish a stronger position in their industry. To accomplish this, associations need to think about the goals they want to meet and develop a plan to get there. Boost your reach, connect with your members, and improve engagement–by employing the following tips, your organization can start making social media truly work for you!
Develop Your Presence
While it can be tempting to use social media as a medium for traditional advertising, associations will likely be better served using their channels to curate an overall image for their organization.
For many associations, social media provides them with the perfect platform to establish their position as an industry authority. This can be achieved by using social channels to build a hub for industry information and discussion.
Consider posting relevant industry news and think pieces on your various platforms. Encourage discussion among your members and followers, and share helpful tips for professionals. The more valuable the information you offer, the more enticing (and engaging!) it will be.
Think: how can you keep members and potential members coming back to your social media pages?
Well, what would you look for in a professional page? Tips, behind-the-scenes looks, up-to-date information–the sky’s the limit! Just make sure it fits your association’s brand.
With enough effort, your channels may become a hotspot that professionals rely on for information.
Find Your Audience
In order to have your messages find the right audience, you first need to know who your audience is and where they tend to hang out. This knowledge can save you time and effort, as you can identify which channels are the most important when it comes to directing your message. The bonus of this is that you can then use targeted ads to the greatest effect, having your hard work pay off!
Another useful element of this information is that your association can investigate how your audience interacts with social media, and what information is most important to them. You can then develop and employ strategies to meet audience expectations. Do they seem to prefer articles? Podcasts? Videos? Infographics? The more you know, the more you can cater to their tastes.
When building an accurate picture of your members and target audience, social media can be one of the best resources available. It gives you a more accurate and unfiltered representation of both people and organizations.
A Powerful Promotional Tool
When promoting an event or cause of any sort, associations can trust social media to help get the word out to members and start a buzz.
Compared to more traditional mediums, social media promotions allow associations to send out quick updates and inform members of any last-minute changes. When sent through the channels your member base uses most, these messages also create some level of urgency among potential attendees. Don’t underestimate “FOMO”–the Fear of Missing Out!
For events in particular, social media allows associations to host promotions and event updates during an event. While unique and interesting content can help recruit attendees for the later days of the event, it can also build brand awareness and help recruit members and attendees for events down the road. Even if a member can’t attend this event, your association’s posts may fan their desire to attend future events instead.
When creating your promotional content for your events, try incorporating event speakers and sponsors (and tag them!). This can really help broaden your association’s reach by accessing a new group of followers–those who follow the relevant parties. Events are a kind of collaboration, after all, so even the hosting organizations can get in on networking!
Nix Self-Serving Posts
With so many eyes watching, social media makes a great space for advertising and other promotional materials. However, associations should be wary of posting too much self-serving content. Over time, social media users will tune out or completely ignore organizations who only use social media for these purposes.
Instead, start or join conversations with members and other social media users. If done honestly, these conversations can create meaningful interactions that rank highly and lead to your posts showing up on more social media feeds. At the very least, you’ll be building human connections with the lifeblood of your association.
Furthermore, meaningful interactions can go a long way toward building a relatable and accessible image for your association. You aren’t limited to fostering bonds with members, either–you can use social media to network and build relationships with different speakers, sponsors, and other industry organizations. These relationships can lead to collaboration on future events and cement your association’s position as an industry expert. The more engaged your association is within your industry, the more your audience will notice.
Can You Picture It?
Every social media user engages with the medium differently but, generally, pictures and videos tend to perform better than straightforward text. Try mixing up the style and format of your posts to generate better results and greater interaction from viewers. Try posting links to your website from time to time, in addition to self-contained content formatted specifically for social media.
For many users, social media offers a very unique look at otherwise inaccessible people and organizations. The platform allows associations to share an inside look at their operations; those who let people in can reap the benefits of this approach–namely, the presentation of a friendly, trustworthy brand. Consider sharing behind-the-scenes information and pictures with your audience to make your association feel even more accessible.
Address Concerns Publicly
While mistakes and issues are always best avoided entirely, this can sometimes be more difficult than it sounds. When your association does face a challenge, such as a mixup of some sort, social media can be a great medium to tackle it head-on.
Rather than downplay or try to hide from anything that might be perceived as negative, your association can try to resolve the issue publicly. Quick and acceptable solutions can not only help your association recover from your mistakes–they can actually turn negatives to positives for you in the long-term, as they help build trust and loyalty from members.
Acknowledge your mistakes, state how you will make things right, and explain how you will do better in the future. A proper apology can go a long way in any relationship!
Measure Your Results
Finally, to build the best social media strategy, your association needs to be able to measure what works and what doesn’t.
First, decide on a metric that can help determine successfulness, such as likes, comments, or click-through rate. Analytics can help measure how viewers interact with your posts, allowing you to judge what strikes a chord with your audience.
The next step is to actually use this information to improve. Ask yourself:
- What times do posts perform the best?
- What types of posts are they?
- Do members engage more when your association participates in the conversation?
The answers to these questions can help you make each next post perform better than your last.
When it comes down to it, social media can do wonders for an association when it comes to reach, visibility, and engagement. With a little planning and some elbow grease, your organization will be able to leverage this tool to its fullest potential, netting you new followers (soon-to-be members!) and cementing old.
Develop your presence, determine your audience, promote your merits, engage through content, focus on quality media, be honest, and track your results: with this checklist in mind, you’ll be seeing results in no time–the possibilities truly stretch to infinity and beyond!