Social media has become an integral part of organizations of all types and sizes over the past few years. It seems that every advertisement you see, brochure you read, or even event you attend, has a corresponding social media call to action these days. Social media is naturally a great, inexpensive tool associations can use to connect with members or followers. Many associations, however, are shooting in the dark; unable to use social media to its full potential because of a lack of a strong strategy.
We wanted to share a few easy tips you can use to help your association optimize its social media strategies. McKinley often advises Solutions clients on social media strategy and content, in addition to other areas like membership and marketing. Here are a few tips to help you think through your association’s social media strategy.
- Understand which social media platforms are relevant to your association. It might not make sense for a small, specialty livestock association to be allocating resources towards Pinterest. Yet, many associations see social media as a challenge they need to conquer in its entirety; they ‘have’ to be on every platform or else they are missing out. Not all platforms make sense for every association. Engage your members where they are present. For example, according to Pew Research Center’s “2013 Social Media Update,” 71% of adults used Facebook while only 17% used Instagram in 2013. For associations with more tenured members, Facebook will offer the widest reach. Also, think about which platforms your membership might naturally use. An association of real estate professionals, for example, might allocate its resources toward YouTube or Pinterest, where its members are likely to have accounts in order to share photos or video tours of different homes.
- Make your content interesting and interactive. Social media is all about engaging an audience in a conversation. Too often associations over-post promotional messages that don’t foster communication. According to Vertical Response, Facebook users should have 80% of their posts dedicated to creating conversation about their industry or audience, and 20% of posts related to specific products and services. This 80/20 distribution of content is a good rule to follow across most social media platforms. The 80% of posts dedicated to creating a conversation can come in the form of articles, news updates, questions and more. Promote (and monitor) conversations between followers.
- Keep your posts simple. A lot of people check their social media platforms on the go. Make your posts highly scannable and understandable. Your posts are competing for the attention of your followers. Make sure they stand out by being interesting, concise and relevant. Draw your followers in with a quick, enticing post, and link to more substantive articles, etc.
- Understand the ideal posting frequency. Most associations don’t have endless time or resources to devote to social media. In his Fast Company article, “The Social Media Frequency Guide,” Kevin Lee comments that associations can get away with posting just three to five times per day while still having significant engagement. In fact, Lee calls three tweets per day the potential “magic number” for engagement. It isn’t necessarily the amount of posts you push out per day that matter, but rather your posts’ content. A post with high follower-engagement will have a much greater impact than a dozen posts with no user engagement.
- Post to social media on an appropriate schedule. It probably makes more sense to post important content in the early evening than it does for you to do so at 4:00 am. Take into account your followers time zones and work schedules, and post when they are likely to have free time to be on social media.
Implementing a social media strategy without taking into account key considerations or posting a message without building a strategy is like playing basketball in the dark. Every once in a while, you might get lucky and make a shot or two. But when associations take a strategic approach to social media, lights start turning on, and it suddenly becomes much easier to hit more and more shots. By its nature, social media is a great way for associations to connect and make impressions on current and potential members. Why not explore how to most effectively use social media? A little effort could be the difference between a swish and an air-ball.