We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well we do it.
– Eric Qualman

The latest research shows that 79% of Australians use social media. If your association isn’t using at least one social media platform to engage with members and potential members, you are missing out on a lot of opportunities.

Social media can help associations STAND OUT by raising awareness, building trust and increasing sales. It is an excellent tool to help you recruit, retain and engage members.

Reasons why associations aren’t using social media

There are the five main reasons associations tell me they are not using social media:

1. “My members aren’t using it”

The latest research shows that 79% of Australians are using social media. Of these, 94% are on Facebook, 46% on Instagram and 18% on LinkedIn. Chances are, your members and potential members ARE using it.

2. “I don’t want to make a mistake”

I hate to break it to you, but everyone makes mistakes on social media. I know I sure have! The important part about making a mistake isn’t the mistake, it’s how you manage it after. Owning your mistakes strengthens your relationships with your audience. My favourite example of how not to fix a mistake is when someone at Westpac tweeted “I’m so over it”. Instead of apologising and saying something along the lines of “we’ve all had a bad day, [tweeter’s name] is now resting up with a cup of tea”, they deleted it. Compare this to how the Red Cross dealt with a tweet that implied they were #gettingslizzered. They deleted the rogue tweet (also sent accidentally from the wrong handle), but replied with a good-natured tweet that acknowledged the mistake: “We’ve deleted the rogue tweet but rest assured the Red Cross is sober and we’ve confiscated the keys”.

3. “I don’t know how to start”

Like all new things, social media can definitely be overwhelming to start with. Take time to plan your strategy, and start with the one channel where the majority of your members are. This is likely to be either Facebook or LinkedIn.

Please don’t be like the man I met recently who launched six (yes, 6!!!) social media platforms for his association in a week. That’s like starting a new diet and eliminating sugar, caffeine, alcohol, wheat and dairy all at once – it’s really hard and you probably won’t last out the day.

4. “People might say bad things about our association”

Um, guess what? If people want to say bad things about you, they will, regardless of whether you are using social media or not. Social media lets you reply directly to your members and critics, as it provides a forum where you can address issues that arise. Focusing on the perception people have of your association can help you improve. Negative feedback is actually quite valuable, as it can provide you with an opportunity to see how you can improve in terms of the service you provide, the member experience, your employees and any other part of your organisation that is being criticised.

5. “It’s too resource intensive”

Yeah, social media can definitely be resource intensive. However, the key to successfully using social media is knowing where your audience is. Don’t spend time on channels where your members and potential members don’t play. Take the time to develop a social media strategy and a detailed content schedule that will help you more effectively serve your members. There are also plenty of time-saving tools available. Use a scheduling tool such as Buffer, Meet Edgar or HootSuite. Use design tools such as Canva or Easil to make creating great visual content easier.

Social media engagement

Social media is like dating. It takes time to get to know, like and trust someone.

Building a relationship via social media is no different. It takes time and conversations to move to the relationship and collaboration stages, where trust is achieved (read my post on using social media to build trust to see how to do this).

Social Media engagement

With the average person having an attention span shorter than that of a goldfish, it’s more important than ever that we get our communication right first go.

How to use social media effectively

There are three main things you need to think of when using social media – you need to have the right content delivered to the right customer via the right channel.

Managing the customer (your member) is the most important of the 3Cs. You need to know their problems so you can provide a solution. Listen to what your members are saying online to find out how you can help them.

The content you share is your social media currency. It’s important that it solves your members’ problems. Share your own content, but also curate content that helps them.

Finally, which channels are your members using? Go there. Choose your online and offline channels based on where your audience is, how they prefer to receive information and the nature of the information you need to communicate.

Now ask yourself: how can your association use social media to communicate more effectively with your members?

For more information download Mel’s short guide to Using Social Media to Recruit, Retain and Engage Members. 

Mel Kettle works with associations, not-for-profits and businesses to help them communicate effectively and authentically so they attract, retain and engage their members and customers. To inquire about working with Mel, please email mel@melkettle.com or click here.


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