3 No-Nonsense Ways To Boost Association Membership Through Social Strategy
When you think of all of the efforts you have implemented to try and get that membership number to climb, does this checklist sound at all familiar?
- All-encompassing mentions of the greatness that are your member benefits in your weekly newsletter.
- Targeted banner ads throughout your association website, touting your upcoming, must-attend event.
- A personalized letter from your board chairman explaining how he or she has been in your members’ shoes and has seen the wondrous works of their association’s lobbying efforts unfold in real time.
- Strategic phone calls asking scripted questions that will lead to a natural segue into explaining how the association benefits package can make a prospective member’s life easier.
Well, congratulations! You’re doing an excellent job. You have brand recognition, the must-have membership benefits that every association needs, the connections that every member is looking for, and the influence to make a real difference in the industry. Your membership numbers should be through the roof. If they’re not, and you’re executing all of these marketing touches and still not seeing the recruitment numbers you had hoped for, there may be something you’re overlooking: social media.
As an association executive, you most likely can’t go a single day without clicking on a link that leads to a story stressing the need for the association world to tackle and conquer the social media realm, if for no other reason than to cash in on the millennial membership numbers every association is after. But like all things marketing, successful social networking requires a strategy.
Here are three no-nonsense ways to boost membership with your social strategy.
Maximize the exposure of your events.
This seems like such a no-brainer, but it’s often looked back upon as a missed opportunity. Like chocolate and peanut butter, events and social media are good on their own, but when put together they create something magical.
Best practice suggestions for event social marketing follow similar protocols as any other marketing. Plan in advance and execute pre-show touches, deliver key live show updates and offerings, and follow through with a post-event wrap-up. With Facebook Live, Periscope, Snapchat and Instagram’s extended video options, these up-to-the minute platforms offer associations a live channel to their audiences.
Plan to have someone live tweet the keynote and other sessions at your annual conference. Have a staff member broadcast live from the trade show floor, highlighting the exhibitors. Capture one-on-one interviews with key legislative players at your lobby days and show how your association can put members in touch with those who have the ability to make a change. By utilizing tools that are already within reach (and budget), you can make sure your events have an extended influence on membership recruitment and retention.
Let your current members do the talking.
That’s right. I’m talking about testimonials. For some reason, solid testimonials that you spent the time seeking out and capturing get forgotten when it comes to social media strategy. Why? These are golden opportunities for real people to prove that all you have been saying is true!
I’m not talking about the canned, “I love my association” quotes that anyone could post with a stock photo and call it a day. I’m talking about the pure, meaningful testimonials from industry influencers that can resonate with anyone in the industry and will have a real impact on a prospective member’s decision to join (or a current member’s decision to stay). Take the time to cultivate these responses; create a nice graphic to go with the quote, and spread these strategically throughout Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. One testimonial a week on each platform is a great place to start.
Stay active, stay aware, and stay the course.
Your members are already on social media sites, talking about things that make their lives better. You need to get in that conversation. By having a consistent presence on the social networks your members flock to, you give yourself more opportunities to get their attention (and their membership dues).
By strategically promoting your member proposition in a non-confrontational manner on a consistent basis, you have the opportunity to subtly, but significantly spread the message of the ways membership in your association can help. You can’t just set it and forget it though. You have to be persistent and consistent with your member benefits message.
Make it a goal to highlight at least one member benefit a week. Share interesting and informative industry news on all of your social networks. Talk about your events. Show the people behind your organization. Mix it up. Get creative. Be funny. But most importantly: say it well and say it often.
Let’s face it, reading phrases like, ‘implementing a successful social strategy’ can be downright daunting. Without an understanding of how you can make that strategy work for your particular association, you may as well be reading an article entitled, “You should have 100,000 followers without even trying,” or “Why are you SO bad at social media?” Luckily, these tasks don’t have to be that overwhelming. By preparing a social strategy that is both comprehensive as well as flexible (yes, it’s possible) you set your association up for growth and success.