I’m often asked by associations how can social media help me achieve my membership goals?
The way we communicate has changed a lot over the last 10 years. Your members use social media, and increasingly, they want to be able to engage with you via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. They want to read your blog, watch your videos and listen to your podcasts.
Yet too many associations are either not using social media at all or are using it poorly – and in ways that discourage engagement from their members.
We need to remember that people do business with people they know, like and trust. Social media, used well, can help your members get to know, like and trust you more.
5 ways social media can help associations achieve their membership goals
1. Increase awareness of your organisation to your target market
One of the first things you should do when considering social media as a communications tool is to clearly identify who your target market is. You need to know who they are so you can gain an understanding of their problems, so you can provide a solution. And you need to know their communication preferences so you can reach them via the channels they use.
Social media provides an excellent opportunity for you to gain insights into what your members like and dislike, their problems and challenges. Connect with your members on as many social media channels as possible. It is particularly easy to follow your members on Twitter and Instagram, and encourage your senior leaders to connect with your members on LinkedIn.
2. Demonstrate the value of membership
Social media is a low-cost way to educate and enlighten your audience. Share and discuss business ideas. Answer questions and help solve the challenges your members face. Follow your peers, colleagues, influencers and other interesting people from around the world, and share their content with your audience. Make sure you also follow your members and have conversations with them – this allows them to get to know, like and trust you. Incorporate member social media account details in your member application forms and capture this information in your database.
3. Attract people to your events
Promote your events on your social media channels, create a Facebook event for each of your events, establish a hashtag with the name of the event (and ask your speakers to also use it), set up a twitter list of conference speakers and attendees, create LinkedIn and/or Facebook groups for attendees to network online prior to the event, share images and videos of your events, write blog posts summarising the highlights and information shared.
Professional Speakers Australia is very good at using its Facebook pages to promote chapter and national events. This allows them to quickly schedule and promote impromptu activities when opportunities arise, such as a when highly regarded international speakers visit Australia and offer to meet with members who are available, usually at short notice.
One of the best examples I’ve seen of event buzz being generated on social media was a few years ago when I attend the ProBlogger Event. The number of social media posts before, during and after the event meant that the following year, pre-sales tickets sold out within 24 hours. Key to their success was the extensive use of the hashtag #PBevent and an enormous number of social media posts by past attendees raving about the quality of the event.
4. Amplify your member engagement
Research from the 2017 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report tells us that activities such as participating in the social media are driving an increase in member engagement. People don’t want to be told the value you’re providing, they want to be shown. If you know what your members want from you, then use social media as one of the ways to demonstrate you are delivering the value they want and expect. By creating and sharing content that educates your audience, you encourage involvement and create a community.
By demonstrating the human side of your organisation, you encourage members to get involved. Remember, people do business with people they know, like and trust, so help your members get to know your team. Ask for and give referrals. Perhaps you can’t refer specific members, but you can create a member directory that you can share with people seeking experts in your industry.
Create a community that enriches the member experience. Talk to your members via your chosen social media channels, and strengthen relationships by engaging in conversations with current and prospective members. Following people you don’t know can lead to rewarding business and personal relationships.
5. Position your association as a thought leader
Create and widely share content that helps solve the problems your members face. Be active on Twitter and share your thoughts via written, video or audio content. Participate in relevant Twitter chats, live tweet events you attend, and when you share other people’s content, add a short commentary as to why you think it’s of value.
If you have done these five things, then your members should have a much better understanding of what your association stands for and the value you provide. This means potential members are more likely to seek you out. Furthermore, at membership renewal time, you will more easily be able to demonstrate the value of membership, as you will have built a good relationship with your members.