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  • Writer's pictureColby Horton

7 Social Media Tactics That’ll Have You Flexing Your Association’s Brand Muscle

When executed properly, social media is one of the best tools for an association to create an industry “brand” that’s seen as an informational authority. Here are seven social media tips to keep your followers excited about your organization’s social channels.

It’s no secret: your members are hooked on social media. In 2020, over 3.6 billion people were using social media worldwide - an average of 144 minutes per day. By 2025, that number is projected to increase to almost 4.41 billion.

Associations have always had an obligation to provide information, access to resources, and opportunities for members to connect with their peers. This obligation is more true today than ever before. And social media is the perfect way to fulfil this commitment, particularly when face-to-face engagement isn’t as easy to obtain as it used to be.

The use of social media is an essential part of your organization’s digital marketing ecosystem that helps boost engagement and builds brand reputation. According to Marketing General’s 2020 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report, the top challenges facing associations today include communicating value or benefits and attracting and retaining younger members. It’s the strategic use of social channels that help with these challenges - connecting organizations with their professional community, increasing member acquisition of younger members, and driving traffic to their websites.

And, regarding acquiring and engaging younger members, check out this quick infographic showing social media users by generation and the percentage of association membership belonging to each generation. See any opportunities to reach younger prospects on the social media front?

When executed properly, social media is one of the best tools for an association to create an industry “brand” that’s seen as an informational authority. Creating engaging content that entices an industry professional to like or follow your social channels has become a full-time job that takes experience and digital marketing knowledge. Here are seven social media tips to keep your members coming back to your association social channels.

Identify Your Goals for Each Platform

All social networks are not created equal. For associations (and B2B businesses), the top three most used social media channels are Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, in that order. That’s not to say that associations aren’t utilizing Instagram or Snapchat or YouTube or even Pinterest. But focusing on those top three will suffice for associations strapped for marcom resources.

When posting on multiple social platforms, it’s very important for your organization to post differently on each. In other words, set specific goals for each platform. For example, perhaps your Twitter feed is reserved for a curation of industry and association news, including events. Maybe your LinkedIn posts focus just on association-specific content. But bottom line, it’s imperative your social media manager not post the exact same content and verbiage across all channels.

So how do you decide what type of post to write for each channel? Forbes recently provided a breakdown of certain social platforms by age. In the article, the author states, “American women and men between the ages of 25 - 54 make up 32% and 29% of Facebook users, respectively. And only 9% of users are between the ages of 18 - 24.” Therefore, if your association is made up of young professionals, Facebook may not be the best way to connect. But, if your organization is composed of members in their mid-40s, linking information from your association’s Facebook page will provide optimal engagement.

Here’s further demographic breakdown of social channels to help you generate the right platform for your goals:

Utilize Video

Social media provides a hodgepodge of content to the average consumer. Social channels have become the one-stop shop for someone to catch up with family and friends, read the latest news, engage with like-minded individuals, and interact with advertisers who know their buying habits. In other words, your association needs to be proactive and creative to be seen by your members on their preferred social platforms. That’s where video comes in.

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn have all pivoted to video as the preferred media. With the rapid growth of TikTok, we’re seeing just how persuasive a video-only format can be (just ask your kids!). In fact, a recent report by Cisco predicts that by 2022, 82% of social media content will be video.

Video production for your social media channels doesn’t have to be expensive. Consider live streaming a one-on-one interview with one of your association’s leaders on an industry topic or trend. Provide a snippet of an evergreen webinar to entice followers to download and watch. Capture the excitement on a tradeshow floor or various networking events. But no matter what, get videos on your social channels, stat!

Use Social for Member Service and Engagement

We all know social media is an essential marketing and brand-building tool for modern organizations, but it can also elevate your association’s service and engagement level with your members. Your association must have strategies in place for handling customer service issues through your social channels. These platforms ultimately serve as a more convenient way for your members to get in touch with key departments within your organization.

Today, member services and social media have melded together. And, if your association has a social media presence, you’re going to have to expect to perform a customer service function online. With recent data showing one of the top reasons members don’t renew is due to a lack of engagement with the organization, consider social media as a way to help.

By answering questions, handling concerns, and providing industry expertise on a public social platform, your association shows potential members what kind of service they’ll receive as a paying member.

Take Your Members “Behind the Scenes”

Associations often struggle with their Instagram feeds. And while Instagram might not be the right social platform for every organization, engagement with brands on Instagram is 84 times higher than Twitter, and 10 times higher than Facebook.

Check out these numbers:

Less “businesslike” than its social counterparts, Instagram is a great platform for displaying your association’s culture; that is, take your followers “behind the scenes” of your association. This tactic truly humanizes your association, and re-emphasizes to your followers that they are part of something special.

Try going live on Instagram to take questions from members and prospects. Add a quick tour of your office to your social stories (available on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn). Produce a live Q&A with a staff member, board member, or member-at-large. Recognize a staff member’s birthday or anniversary and include a video with five icebreaker questions.

User-Generated Content Builds Trust

Your members are your association’s best advocates. So why not put them to work on your social channels? User generated content, or UGC, is the digital equivalent of word-of-mouth, and has become a win-win scenario for both your association and participating members. Your members have stories to tell and your social channels need content. See how this becomes a win-win?

But in the end, UGC actually becomes most valuable to your association. It’s proven that consumers trust content from peers more than they trust content from brands. The same is true for your prospective members. Seeing content generated from your members provides a sense of trust for prospects.

Big consumer brands have been promoting UGC for some time now. Here’s a couple of examples:

Need examples of association-focused UGC? How about photos of member businesses, particular if they have any kind of sign that shows they’re a member of your association? Curated content from members is a great way to showcase member press releases and case studies. Quotes about the benefits of an association event is an excellent way to drum up excitement for an upcoming tradeshow or educational session. You get the picture.

Consider Building Smaller Social Communities

Like the industry you serve, your members are multi-faceted. Some are young professionals. Others might focus on a particular area of the industry. And still others could be retired but still wanting to support your organization.

Facebook and LinkedIn allow organizations to create groups - small social communities that cater to specific interests. Imagine having a place for all your young professionals to gather within your social ecosystem to engage with one another and share ideas.

Be Consistent

The key to growing your social media following is posting great content consistently. Whether that’s daily or weekly, consistency is determined by your association’s overall goals of each channel and membership makeup. But once you determine your consistency, stick with it.

And be realistic. If your marketing and communications department is already stretched thin, don’t make it a goal to post daily. If you don’t have access to a full-time videographer, don’t plan on posting an engaging video every single week. And if you need help to stay consistent, there’s a lot of digital marketing agencies that can offer assistance.

Final Thoughts

When thinking about social media for your association, it’s easy to get caught up in the technicalities of the process and forget about focusing on the bigger picture. Whether you’re using social media to recruit new members, generate buzz for an event, attract a younger group of professionals, provoke critical thinking on industry issues, or provide thought leadership to your existing members, social media is a great avenue to explore. Using these seven tactics can help strengthen your social media presence and keep your followers engaged.

How Can We Help?

Association Briefings has a team of association-focused experts excited to help with your social media initiatives. Let’s chat about how we can help engage your followers through strategic social media tactics. Reach out here to get started.



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