Smarter Social Media: Push or Pull?

Did you know someone joins LinkedIn every second? One of those social media users is bound to be in your industry so it’s time to get smarter about how we use social media to connect to followers, members, prospects, thought leaders, and board members.

Smarter Social Media - Defining Engagement with PurposeRecently, Maddie Grant at Social Fish presented on the topic of engagement in online communities. In the presentation Maddie made a really great point – member perspective is mission critical in your association’s membership engagement strategy. Here are some examples she gave for turning traditional approaches to social media strategy on its head. Instead of taking the “we need to get more members engaged” approach, meet the members’ needs first, think “members need a trusted environment to collaborate how can we become their trusted advisor?” Instead of proclaiming “we need to draw members to the website,” announce “members need a place to find trusted experts who can help them, what can we do to ensure our website has what they are looking for?” Simply changing your mindset from what your association needs to what your members need can make all the difference.

Here are 4 smarter uses for social media to engage members:

1) Event Marketing
2) Social Learning
3) Community Partnership
4) Member Recruitment

1. Event Marketing

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve seen associations invite members to an event or conference through email (and ONLY via email) and then wonder why they didn’t get the attendance they hoped for. Let’s be honest. How many emails do we get a day and flag for later? Unfortunately, 1 touch is simply not enough. In a recent post by marketing guru, Kathryn Aragon, the case was made for touching a prospect three to seven (or even more) times in order to get them to commit to large ticket products such as events. This is where social media (abbreviated SM) comes in super handy! Try creating an event page on Facebook that members can “join”. Once they express interest by joining the event page, send them an invoice and complete the registration. Alternatively you can tweet a link to your conference registration page or even post a link in the alerts section of your association’s LMS. Using these approaches you’ll be sure to stay in front of your member much longer than the time it takes to skim an email.

Bonus Tip! Do you ever get bombarded with telephone calls and emails about the event? Try posting FAQs to social media channels in advance of the event. Now that’s providing solutions before the problem.

2. Social Learning

I’m not talking about Banduras Social Learning Theory. Well kind of I am, but more so I’m talking about providing opportunities for members to learn on social media sites. Social learning is not, I repeat, NOT the same as social media…two different things. Social media is the tool and social learning is the action; the idea is that through observing modeled behavior and reacting creates more proactive members.

Use your association’s tools to promote your desired action. One way to increase engagement and overall satisfaction is to provide members with a place they can engage and collaborate with their peers during an event. Ask the presenter or a member of the board to start discussions on SM during education sessions and webinars (otherwise known as a backchannel). Socializing educational content helps to retain membership AND increase knowledge retention, win-win!

3. Community Partnership

Duh! I know it doesn’t seem so obvious at first, but now that I’ve mentioned community partnerships in social media you’re probably having a “duh” moment, right? Gone are the days when you used SM just to post news, conference announcements, and volunteer opportunities. Use SM to give back to your followers. Connect with and mention your donors, fellow organizations or nonprofits you support (or that support you). Another way to use SM in the realm of community partnerships is by sharing content or links they have posted (if it’s relevant of course). Sharing and retweeting relevant content expands your association’s reach and reminds your partners, supporters, members, and donors that you’re still active in the community, keeping you top of mind.

4. Member Recruitment

The reason we have seen such a growth in social media is because technology has finally enabled people to “connect” with peers in the next cubicle or a world away in less time than it takes to pour a cup of coffee. Adoption rates for social media have also increased as social networks have found ways to further personalize the experience for individual users. Capitalize on this technology; tap into industry groups on LinkedIn, Listservs, and Facebook groups, lurk in on discussions, start your own discussions, offer meaningful advice and connect with likeminded individuals. You never know where your next member will come from.

Bonus tip! When engaging in conversations on social media create a hash tag for your topic. Using hash tags helps categorize discussions and increases the likelihood of your tweets being seen by your target audience.

So there you have it, 4 smarter uses for social media even the association marketing newbie can master. What tips do you have for increasing member engagement through social media? Comment below or find us in the Twittersphere. #associationsrule

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