Associations’ Guide to a Fool-Proof Social Media Strategy

It’s no secret where a majority of people hang out on the internet these days, social media. However, finding out which specific platforms your target audience utilize and how to best reach them is another story.  For Associations seeking to grow a social media presence, we’ve compiled the complete guide to social media strategy for associations, chalk full of examples and data, so your strategy has positive ROI.

Define Your Purpose

People who talk just to hear their voice are just as obnoxious on social media as they are face-to-face. Post with a purpose. Define what your Association wants to use social media for; be it brand awareness, subject matter education, member recruitment, etc.

Set goals around this purpose. Do you want to see X percentage of membership growth per year once social campaigns launch? Do you want to see a certain amount of member engagement? Defining these goals can keep your team from getting stuck in the grind of frequent posting without a prize to push for.

Choose Channels Wisely

Better to do one thing excellently than ten things sub-par. Start by collecting current membership data and based on your general membership demographic and their interests, select one or two channels they are most likely to be found.

Below are some fundamental demographic data per channel from Social Media Today to help you make that decision. Read their 2017 Infographic for some beneficial information on each channel to narrow down further. For example, Twitter is the most oversaturated social channel, with over 53% of their users never posting an update and spending on average less than 3 minutes a day on the app.

Social Channel Unique Monthly Users Sex Age
Facebook 1.9 Billion Predominately female- 83% of online women and 75% of online men 18-49
YouTube 1 billion Predominately male- 55% male and 45% women 18-49
Instagram 600 Million Predominately female- 38% of online women and 26% online men <35
Twitter 317 Million Predominately male- 22% of online men and 15% online women 18-29
Pinterest 317 Million Predominately female- 45% of online women and 17% online men 18-64
LinkedIn 106 Million Predominately male- 31% of online men and 27% online women Varies
Reddit 85 million Predominately male- 67% male and 33% female <30

There is a temptation to be on all channels at once. You reach more people, have a larger reach, etc. This way of thinking can stretch you too thin and actually work against your Association in the end. Learn one or two channels well and maximize your content output rather than overextend, risk diluting your content, and not putting your best foot forward. 

Make Rewarding Content 

Even if you don’t have existing channels for your Association, you do have content. Every established Association has a wealth of information at their fingertips; the material used for stakeholders, photos used for marketing materials, prospects, general public information, etc. Creating content for social media doesn’t have to be separate from those projects.

Instead, leverage existing assets to build campaigns for your Association. Separate your content and create new content around the rule of thirds.

Related Content- Reposting other content that is relevant to your Association and its’ member interests

Original Content- Posting original curated content (promotional, educational, giveaways, etc.)

Engagement- Interacting with other brands and with those engaging with your brand

You want to add value to your audience with every piece of content you output, not just push your own agenda. Spend your time posting relevant information to your audience like sharing related news articles, promotions they may enjoy (even if they aren’t from you). Engage with your audience by commenting on related content, responding to comments, and liking similar posts. Lastly, create outstanding content. Content that rewards people for spending their valuable time with you will keep members engaged and coming back for more.

Launch Campaigns

What is a social media campaign? It’s a collection of content surrounding one subset of overall purpose, meaning a campaign under the general umbrella of what your social media strategy is but with a definite end. For example- you’ve decided your social media strategy is to increase membership by 50% this year. One campaign could be to market an event your Association is hosting this month. Your team would create a campaign of content marketing this particular event, to increase attendance and awareness, which would, in turn, increase membership. This would have a start and end date, content focused solely on that purpose and be frequently posted within those guidelines.

It is best practice to create campaign content in a content calendar or in “batches,” instead of day-by-day to promote consistency.

Consistency

  • Consistency is important to social media not just regarding timing, but also regarding branding. In general, you want to keep content similar in tone-of-voice, color scheme, and frequency. Batching your content, as mentioned above, can help ensure your posts are coming as regularly as you want. When decided how often you post, remain active enough to stay top-of-mind with your audience and gain relevancy with the algorithm of the channel at hand. Read more about social media algorithms on SpotCap.

Content Consistency Tips:

  • Posting frequency best practices differ based on some factors, including industry, the size of your audience, and what your social media goals are (e.g. increasing engagement on posts vs. increasing clicks to your website) but a good rule-of-thumb to follow is:
  • Facebook: err on the side of fewer posts here for more engagement.
    • If your audience is over 10K, post twice a day
    • If your audience is lower than 10K, post two to three times per week
  • Twitter: if you want to optimize engagement on your posts, tweeting 1-5 times a day works great. However, if you want to generate more total response, you can post up to 50 times a day without adverse effects
  • Instagram: studies have shown that frequency doesn’t matter on Instagram. What matters if consistency

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/neilpatel/2016/09/12/how-frequently-you-should-post-on-social-media-according-to-the-pros/2/#31c482d0100f

  • Posting times best practices differ based on some factors, including industry, the size of your audience, and what your social media goals are (e.g., optimizing engagement on posts vs. increasing clicks to your website), but a good rule-of-thumb to follow is:
    • Facebook: 1 post per day, between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m.
    • Twitter: 15 posts per day (7 of which should be retweets or curated content), between 2 p.m. and 10 p.m.
    • Pinterest: 11 pins per day, between 2 a.m. and 11 p.m. (some sources suggest sharing 80% of pins from other sources)

Source: https://coschedule.com/blog/how-often-to-post-on-social-media/

A key to consistency is to create a social media policy to share across the Association including guidelines for what employees can say about the Association and its internal workings. Attach any color schemes or tone of voice you want to maintain across channels.

Social Listening 

A benefit of social media marketing is the ability to hear to your audience, which is an essential piece of every social media strategy. Social listening is the process of monitoring what is being said about your brand or competitor brands on social media to position yourself most advantageously.

There are many tools to help you do this well such as Sprout Social, Salesforce, Google Alerts or manually search your name in the channel of your choosing. Allow what people are saying or interested into shape strategy moving forward.

Recap:

  • Define Your Purpose- Define your social media marketing goals with defined metrics.
  • Choose Channels Wisely- Gather data on your audience and make a narrowed, informed decision.
  • Make Rewarding Content- Reward people for spending their time consuming your content by making it really good.
  • Launch Campaigns- Batch small projects with defined goals underneath the larger social media purpose.
  • Consistency – Stay consistent with branding and frequency to keep top-of-mind.
  • Social Listening- Keep your ear to the screen for what people are saying or asking of your Association and let that guide your strategy.

Has your Association seen some stride using social media? We want to hear all about it! Share your story with us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, and we might share your insights to help other Associations.

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