An Association Professional's Guide to Social Media

An Association Professional's Guide to Social Media

Did you know that approximately 4.5 billion individuals (the majority of the world’s population) are active social media users? While it’s easy to dismiss TikTok, Instagram, and other platforms as little more than digital playgrounds for people to kill time, the fact of the matter is that social media has become an incredibly powerful outlet for individuals and organizations alike to market themselves, share content, and connect with new audiences.

If your association hasn’t done so already, now is the time to take a deeper look at your organization’s social media strategies and consider how you can make the most of these versatile online tools.

To guide you through this process, we’ve organized a handful of essential best practices for effectively using social media to strengthen your association’s image and operations and provide your members with additional value. This includes how you can:

  • Leverage social media marketing for member acquisition.

  • Increase event attendance and participation.

  • Create member communities within and beyond social media.

  • Raise more non-dues revenue.

  • Use social media data to boost member engagement.

With these insightful strategies and the right association management tools, you’ll soon be able to take full advantage of the engagement, acquisition, and retention potential of your own social media accounts. Let’s dive in to explore social media marketing further.

Leverage social media marketing for member acquisition.

Social media marketing is the use of social media platforms, accounts, and networks to promote your organization. For your association, this means posting authoritative content and connecting with both existing and prospective members to solidify your base of constituents. 

Let’s focus on prospective members for now. 

As vast and interconnected networks of millions—or even billions—of individuals, social media platforms are particularly well-suited for marketing, offering you the chance to find and market your offerings to countless potential members. 

However, how do you reach the right prospects and what can you do to optimize your social media marketing materials? For best results, you should:

  1. Segment current members to discover their demographic breakdown and understand what social media platforms prospective members may be using.

  2. Audit your current social media marketing pages to see which accounts are performing well. Are you connecting with the right audiences using the right social content, based on your findings when segmenting your member base?

  3. Curate social media content that aligns with your members’ demographic breakdown and interests, the best practices of each platform, and the user intent for those platforms. For example, LinkedIn is utilized primarily by working adults, supports video and image content with a bit of text, and is used for professional networking. 

  4. Incorporate engaging multimedia content, CTAs, and interactive content to create a more interesting and inclusive digital strategy. This will draw users to your social media pages and, subsequently, your association website and membership page.

Additionally, integrating your social media platforms with your membership management software will allow you to more easily monitor and manage your marketing strategies.

Increase event attendance and participation.

Beyond ongoing member acquisition, social media marketing can also be used to promote your events to current and potential members, boosting event success. In the weeks and months leading up to your event, be sure to incorporate social media into your larger multichannel event marketing strategy. 

In particular, consider these techniques to generate the greatest possible amount of support and awareness for your upcoming event: 

  • Tease your audience with event content and sneak peaks. 

  • Connect with reputable social media ambassadors to share your event with their followers and communities. 

  • Spotlight and tag event speakers and guests. 

  • Highlight your event sponsors. 

  • Provide links to mobile-optimized registration and event ticketing pages.

Then, after your event begins, continue to build momentum and engage association event attendees by sharing event live streams, using event hashtags, and encouraging attendees to share event content on their own social media profiles.

Create member communities in and beyond social media.

As outlined by this Re:charity article on tech strategy tips for associations, social media is a foundational part of association digital marketing, with one of its greatest strengths being the ability to host and sustain online member communities. 

After all, many of your members joined your association to connect with individuals with similar interests and fellow professionals from the same field or industry. So, enhancing your community-building strategies creates additional value for your various members. 

To support community-building and give your members the chance to take advantage of your membership network, you can either:

  • Create communities directly on social media, such as through the group-creation features on LinkedIn and Facebook.

  • Leverage your member directory and online member portal to host communities on your association website, using social media as a marketing tool to drive members to your site.

By using one or both of these strategies, you will be able to create a stronger community of members that you can directly engage with and opportunities for members to engage with one another in creative ways. 

Raise more non-dues revenue.

While dues are an important part of your association’s revenue, it certainly doesn’t hurt to supplement your funds with different non-dues revenue streams. 

This is where social media marketing once again comes into play, as it can help you to market critical non-dues revenue opportunities such as:

  • Merchandising and e-commerce

  • Event ticket sales

  • Additional learning opportunities or resources

Through tagging and easy sharing features, your association staff and your members should be able to spread information from related pages across your social media networks with just a few simple clicks. Just be sure that these pages, forms, and payment processing tools are optimized for mobile devices, as more often than not members will be scrolling on their smartphones when they come across your social media content. 

Use social media data to boost member engagement.

Like any other marketing, communication, or outreach channel that your association uses, social media can be mined for precious member data to improve your future engagement strategies. 

In particular, the Fonteva guide to association member engagement strategies recommends tracking the following key performance indicators to gauge the effectiveness of your social media engagement techniques:

  • How often you gain and lose followers

  • The level and types of engagement with your posts

  • The number of profile tags or references your receive

  • Which of your posts receive the most views, shares, and similar forms of attention

For even more quantitative and qualitative member data, you can even share mobile-friendly member experience surveys over social media. Members will then be able to quickly share their opinions about your content, their member journeys, and your current engagement opportunities. 

This will help you to maximize the impact of your content and continue providing valuable experiences and resources to your members.
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