Social media can be a powerful communications tool for an association. If used correctly! The key is knowing your membership audience and how to utilize your social platforms to connect with them, build awareness, increase member acquisition, and ultimately drive traffic and engagement. It’s also important to know how to create timely, authentic and engaging content to help your association stand-out among others.
When done right, social media can also unite members and increase engagement among them. It can also be a cost- and time-effective tool for keeping members informed about the association, trending industry news, and showcasing the achievements of other members.
Social media also provides the ideal platform for creating buzz and participation in association events. Along with enhancing and enriching the overall experience of being a member and the value of membership. It’s also a great tool for enticing new members to grow your membership base.
But with so many social media channels out there, how does an association determine the best platforms to use? First you need to understand the strengths of each platform. Below is a quick guide to the top social media channels.
Facebook – is designed to build communities. It is a great platform for highlighting the who, what and why of an association. It’s also a great platform to serve as a conversation starter for associations to discuss upcoming events, industry news, member milestones, etc.
Instagram – can elevate the ‘personality’ of an association through meaningful and visual posts. Great place to profile members, events, and industry happenings. Association’s can also benefit from Instagram’s (IG) many tools including IG stories and reels where short videos can generate awareness, profile events, and membership news.
LinkedIn – the professional network of social media where associations can build awareness and membership base by highlighting the goals and achievements of the association – along with key industry news and trends.
Twitter – this platform is currently going through some growing pains with some users watching what the next step will be. Twitter has ultimately been known as a professional news feed and a place to share commentary and trending news.
YouTube – ideal channel for sharing interesting videos about the association, upcoming events, and member profiles.
Tik Tok – has a youthful appeal featuring reels and short stories. It’s a great way for association’s to share member news or updates. It’s also a fun way to showcase what the association does and highlight events.
By understanding these social media channels and following the five tips outlined below, you can improve your social media game for 2023.
1. It’s All in the Planning
Creating an annual social media content calendar is vital to the success of your social media strategy. However, it should be a ‘live’ document that is reviewed and updated quarterly to afford any shifts or changes within the association or industry. It’s also imperative to plan the timing and frequency of the posts to ensure consistent, authentic and engaging content. And remember one social media post does not fit all platforms! Your posts need to be tailored for each social media channel. Nailing down the timing of your social media posts can be tricky with all the new algorithms in place. But typical rule of thumb is to tap into high traffic times like Tuesday-Thursday during key business hours.
2. Position your Association as the Leader
Social media provides your association with the opportunity to highlight their strengths and develop content that draws members in and showcases the value of their membership and why others should join. Most importantly, why your association is THE one to belong to! By providing consistent, frequent and authentic content that is relevant and timely to members you will help to reinforce the benefits of belonging to your association. Content they can share and showcase with their key audiences that helps to further profile them as experts in their fields and ‘in the know.’
3. Know your Membership Audience
May sound simple but this is a step some associations skip. By understanding and identifying the needs and interests of your association’s members you’ll be able to create compelling content members will want to read, engage, and share with others to help increase awareness. It’ll also help you gain valuable insight into your member’s preferences regarding the social media channels they engage the most with, what content they like or dislike. But remember – it’s important to ensure you are also following your members and engaging with their social media.
4. Create Some #FOMO
Social media is ideal for promoting and showcasing your associations events. It also helps to create a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) to those members that pass on events or for potential members on the fence on whether to join or not. Through Facebook and/or Instagram (i.e., reels or IG stories), associations can showcase the value, benefit and fun (yes, fun!) of their events to key audiences. This also helps to create buzz for upcoming events to increase attendance. Association’s should also create unique #hashtags to go along with any event-related posts so they can track engagement including membership tags and shares.
5. Analyze This…
After doing all the groundwork to successfully utilize social media, it is important to take a step back and analyze the fruits of your labour to see what’s working and what’s not. There are so many tools available within each platform to see what posts are being engaged with the most and where other posts may be falling flat. This will aid in the updates you do quarterly for your social media content calendar to see where you can enhance it to achieve your goals. Numbers don’t lie!
By harnessing the communicative power of social media you’ll also enhance membership experience, as members will further realize the benefits of belonging to your association and be fully engaged with it.
One other key thing to remember – social media should be fun… Happy posting!