A professional association is defined by Wikipedia as a “nonprofit organization seeking to further a particular profession, the interests of individuals engaged in that profession and the public interest”. Over the years, we have had the pleasure of working with a multitude of professional associations. During this time we have discovered that social media can be a hard beast to tackle, given their particular goals and limited resources. With this ultimate social media guide, we are aiming to help your professional association get started and get the most out of social networking.
Steps for Getting Started
For some organizations, getting started is the hardest part! These steps will help get you on the right track for creating a killer social media strategy.
1. Determine your Goals
First and foremost, why are you joining social media? Other than the obvious reason that people keep telling you that you need to, what are your goals for joining social media? Are you trying to attract new members? Support existing members? Solicit donor or volunteer engagement? Extend your brand? Of course, you may have a combination of several goals, but having a clear vision of what your organizational goals for using social media beforehand is a great start to kicking off your campaign.
2. Identify your Resources
Another common challenge for professional associations is determining who will manage your social media campaign. Do you have a full-time employee that is willing to take on the task or will you need to recruit volunteers? Additionally, how much time will “the chosen one” have to put toward managing social media? This will help determine how many sites you can be on and how often you will post.
3. Create a Marketing and Action Plan
Now that you have identified your resources, you need to create a marketing and action plan. This involves determining all of the logistics such as which sites you will join, what you will post about, and how often you will post. If you are focused on advocacy-related goals, you will want to determine with stakeholders how you would like your organization to be perceived. In other words, what will your brand voice be like? If you are focused on member collaboration, you may need to come up with a process for engaging members and addressing their questions and concerns. SocialSyntax.net also suggests that you outline a “description of analytics tools that will measure progress” and “a project plan identifying times for reviewing results and re-aligning with the plan”. Remember, none of this matters if you aren’t measuring and evolving!
4. Develop an Editorial Calendar
Once you have come up with your plan, it is time to create an official editorial calendar. The editorial calendar should outline when and what you will post for the next 2 weeks-2 months. Try and establish a timeline of topics as far out as you can in order to avoid writer’s block. This editorial calendar can change at any time, but it is important to establish a baseline that will keep you on schedule.
Tips for Utilizing Social Media
Now that you have prepared your organization for establishing a social media presence, consider some of these tips for implementation.
- Invest in a Scheduling Platform
A social media scheduling platform, like HootSuite, can save you a ton of time. Consider investing a small amount of money to effectively manage all of your social sites from one easy-to-use dashboard.
- Create a LinkedIn Group
Maximize Social Business points out that “if there is any social media website made for associations, it is undoubtedly Linkedin”. They suggest creating a closed LinkedIn group that is moderated, open only to members, and encourages engagement.
- Manage a Facebook Page
No matter your target demographic, Facebook can be truly beneficial to any professional association. With 1.44 billion monthly active users, a segment of your audience is sure to be present on the site. Manage a page with all of your basic information, share relevant articles, encourage members to connect, and get your face in front of the general public.
- Learn how to Listen
It doesn’t matter which social media platform you choose, your primary goal should be to listen. Give your members the opportunity to tell you want they want, need, and would like to see. Pay attention to what they are saying directly to your organization, as well as about your organization.
- Drive Traffic to Your Website
At the end of the day, your website is your digital marketing hub. Work to drive traffic from your social media sites. This is especially important for engaging the general public. If you want to influence new members, you will want to get them to your homepage where you can convert them. Include a link to your website on your social profiles and share your original blogs to get the job done.
If your professional association needs assistance with setting up or managing a social media campaign, contact Informatics.
View the rest of the professional association digital marketing blogs from this month:
Professional Associations: 5 Things to Include in Your Next E-Blast
Blogging Best Practices for Professional Associations
3 Must-Try SEO Tips for Professional Associations