Associations + Social: Be Where They Are

We all know social media is here to stay. And as it continues to embed itself into our personal and business lives, organizations are forced to keep up or be left behind.

But where do associations fit in? Are you in danger of losing your members to their own social networks? Will they turn to their digital circle of connections before they turn to you? How can you continue to prove the value of membership when consumers can easily access information in other places – for free?

Meet your members where they are. Eighty percent of social media users prefer to connect with brands through Facebook (source: Business2Community). And 34 percent of marketers have generated leads using Twitter (source: Digital Buzz Blog). Find out which platforms your members are using most frequently and meet them there. Otherwise, conversations that used to happen on your message boards or forums could quickly slip away to Facebook or Twitter.

Get senior leaders involved. Before social media, it was pretty near impossible for members of a large association to get face time with someone high up in the ranks. You were lucky if you ever got to meet him or her in-person. But with social media platforms like Twitter, more and more members of management are finding their digital voice – and using it. Social networks provide a medium for your senior leaders to share their thoughts with members, making members feel like they have more of a personal connection with the association.

Prove your value. So you’ve created your social accounts and your leaders are ready to connect with members. But you can’t stop there. Once your presence has been established, you need to prove the value to your members. How will your social channels provide a different benefit from what you’re already doing and saying on your website or at conferences and events? Remember that social media is in real time. Use your channels to post news or information about these conferences and events – leading up to, during and after. Share some of the more exciting things happening within the association – as they happen. And invite members to engage in an immediate virtual conversation with you or with their fellow members.  

Listen and respond. Having two-way conversations with your members is a crucial requirement to social media success. And today’s culture demands quick responses, or members may see their way out the door. Make sure you have a person (or group of people) at your association dedicated to social media management. Think of it as good ol’ customer service. You could be answering any range of questions, from “How can I get more involved?” to “How do I pay my membership fee online?” Just remember that when members can’t find the answer from you, they’ll find it somewhere else.

You’ve probably already created the social media accounts appropriate for your organization. And you may even have some great conversations going on. Keeping momentum up and adapting and evolving for new generations of members will be essential for continued success.  

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