Highly intuitive smart phone apps and Internet platforms are making it easy for everyone to find a community where they belong. Such communities present a great opportunity for associations.
Your members share experiences, goals, and concerns; and social media is a great way to connect them to one another—and to you. You’ll achieve this with a social media plan that lets you:
- Set clear and measurable objectives
- Define your target audiences
- Identify deliverables
- Assign responsibilities
- Develop a six-month social media calendar
1. Set Clear and Measurable Objectives
Your organization probably has several competing objectives, such as engaging your members, gaining new ones, and being seen as an industry thought leader. So, the first step is to determine priorities--which objective is most important, and which least? This will guide you in allocating your resources.
Next, develop metrics to measure your objectives’ progress. The simpler these are, the better. For example, if your main goal is to increase member engagement, your metric might be an increase in attendance at your annual conference.
2. Define Your Target Audiences
The more precisely you define who you’re targeting, the more likely you are to connect. For example, if you’re promoting your annual conference and there are types of members (the more senior ones, say) who are more likely to attend, speak directly to their needs via your social media conference promotions.
3. Identify Deliverables
So, what are the most impactful and cost-effective ways to connect with your audiences? The key point here is value—your need to offer something that directly benefits your audiences.
Entice members to your annual conference by having other members provide short video testimonials about the specific ways previous conferences have made them more successful. Promote these videos on your website, Facebook and LinkedIn pages, and through your Twitter feed.
4. Assign Responsibilities
Here is where many plans go off the rails. It’s fatally easy to underestimate how much time executing your plan will take. And if you go from posting valuable new content twice a week to once every three weeks, you won’t meet your objectives. In fact, you may damage your credibility. One way to avoid this is to hire a digital marketing agency that will reliably generate content for a fixed cost.
5. Build a Six-Month Social Media Calendar
Now you’re ready to map out your plan month by month, defining what you’ll do (Twitter and blog posts, white papers, launching a member chat room, etc.), when you’ll do it, and who will do it.
Your goal is to offer content that addresses the most pressing member needs. Member surveys are a great way to get this information, which you can then share with your entire membership.
Sarah Walters is an Account Executive at inMotion Video and Digital. Since 1979, inMotion has helped dozens of associations grow, restructure and innovate. Clients include the Canadian Automobile Association, Canadian Council on Aviation and Aerospace, Consumer Health Products Canada, the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada, the Canadian Wood Council, the Canadian Curling Association, Forest Products Association of Canada, Canadian Wildlife Federation, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and many others. For more information about inMotion, contact Sarah.
Once you’ve learned to “get social media right,” consider all the ways you can use it to better communicate and expand your membership. For example, CSAE is looking into innovative methods to better speak to and hear from its members, as well as its larger audience. If you are not yet a CSAE member, consider joining -- discover the value membership delivers!