Social Media for Associations 101

Best Practices : Article

Social_Media_for_Associations_101Before your association starts a social media account on every existing medium, you need to know what you’re trying to accomplish. Simply having a social media account won’t add value to your association, and if not done correctly, social media can actually inhibit progress. So before you get started, you need to answer these four questions: 1. What channels should you be on? 2. How are you going to provide value? 3. How will you engage your audience?, and ultimately, 4. What are your goals?

1. What Channels Should You Be On?

Choosing your channels wisely in the beginning can save you a lot of stress later on. Because each association is different, it makes sense that different channels benefit different associations. When choosing channels there are three basic things you should consider: your audience, your message and your goal. When you know your audience well, you will be able to determine which social networks they are utilizing. By defining your message, you are able to determine which channels best deliver that message. Knowing what you hope to derive from using social media is imperative to choosing which channels your association should be on.

2. How Are You Going to Provide Value?

One of the crucial elements of cultivating a social presence is ensuring you are providing your audience with value. If you treat your social media platforms solely as sales platforms, it will be a wasted effort. You need to find relevant and stimulating content to share with your audience. It is imperative you’re not afraid to direct your audience to other resources where it is appropriate. Arguably the greatest aspect of social media is the ability to connect with your audience on a deeper level than some existing modes of communications.  Which brings us to:

3. How Will You Engage Your Audience?

Social media is designed to be interactive. One of the greatest mistakes you as an association can make is enlisting a one-sided method of communication. Start a conversation. Don’t just post an article. Inquire about the article and reach out to your audience for speculations or musings. Follow up with individuals when they do reply and keep the conversation going.

4. What Are Your Goals?

If you as an association do not set goals for your social media accounts, you will have no way to measure whether your efforts are successful. When you don’t have metrics to measure success, you are also wasting an excellent opportunity for growth. Knowing your goals will ultimately shape your entire social strategy. Is the goal to increase engagement? Awareness? Industry knowledge? When you are able to clearly define this, you are able to implement a strategy for long-term success on social media.

Addressing these four questions in the initial phases of creating a social presence will assist you and your association in creating long-term success.

Once you get the foundation laid, you can dive into the tactics of how your association can succeed in social media. An association management company can also be invaluable in offering perspective and insight into what is working well for other groups and how you can leverage that information in your own association. 

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