Don’t create that Facebook or Twitter page yet! There’s prep work to be done. Learn what to do before diving into social media, or, if you already jumped, how to ensure a good return on your time investment. You’ll learn to plan, monitor, measure and use the tools effectively.
Social media – shift in how we communicate with our members, and public at large.
New communication tools to reach your goals; different communication style requiring
new approaches. Your approach will determine your success.
Traditional media is a 1 to many message, broadcasting.
Social media is a 1 to 1 conversation, connecting.
Use tools personally first so you get a feel for them, what they’re capable of, how they
can help assn achieve its goals.
Get sense of culture, do’s and don’ts, what others are doing (other associations), what
might work for you.
Goal - your professional development – assn mgmt and social media.
•Read blogs, subscribe, comment – check my blogroll on Reid All About It.
•Find thought leaders to follow on Twitter – my Twitter list.
•Join groups/pages on LI or FB – ASAE, GSAE.
Complete your profile (location, bio, photo, etc.).
Don’t work backwards, start with your strategic plan, i.e. don’t throw up a Fb page or
start a LI group without first reviewing plan, learning the tools and figuring out how you
can use the tools to achieve your assn goals.
Many ways that social media can help you achieve association goals, for example,
growing and retaining your membership. Social media is public platform that
demonstrates the value you provide to members.
Social media as way to provide information, news, resources - professional
Assn is not only content provider, but also content curator – critical in this information overload
world we live in.
Recruitment - Lead generation for membership recruitment, exhibiting, attending
Retention – another way for members (and prospective members) to reach you with
Retention value – host for member networking ties to assn community.
Also, can publicize ad-hoc volunteer opportunities – quick way to tell lots of folks – get them
Another way to provide a member touch, presence in their lives both in and out of the office
Image: Maryland Assn of CPAs (early adopters)
Another education channel both for members but also for policy-makers, just like your
website is now.
Communication tool to alert members to take action.
Members are already using Facebook, so take advantage of their presence there.
American Speech Language Hearing Assn - Facebook political “Take Action” tab
(customized) – Grassroots Enterprise created it for them, their state assns can use it too.
When someone takes action, they’re prompted to share it with their Fb friends
(spreading the word).
Twitter - follow policymakers and staff, follow journalists, if they follow back, education
At some assns, lobbyists friend state legislators and their staff on Fb relationship
strengthener, education tool.
Many of our goals are about providing services to members, but if members don’t know
about these services (aren’t paying attention) or aren’t compelled to use them, wasted
Social media as marketing tool. However, do not use it solely that way to broadcast
promotions or advertise/announce – low tolerance for that, major turn-off.
Social media as word of mouth marketing on steroids – content is shareable, goes viral.
Visibility increased, reach extended.
Your social media outposts (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs, blog comments, other
online communities) indexed by Google. Allows you to take over Google front page.
Increased traffic to website.
Social media very effective for marketing a conference experience and extending that
experience to both before and after the actual conference dates.
Conference stays alive in public, creates buzz/interest for prospective attendees,
exhibitors, sponsors, speakers.
Use Twitter hashtag to organize conference tweets, for example, #asae10.
ASAE’s Engage page for their Annual Meetings – blog roll (attending bloggers), Twitter
roll (attending Twitter users), mobile application, videos of interviews with speakers,
graphic badges that attendees can display on their blog/website (“I’m attending
ASAE10”), the Hub (aggregated content from Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Slideshare, the
Daily Now/show daily into one place accessible by mobile or computer).
Website (or blog) – always your home base – get it in order first before jumping into
•You own your site, can’t control fate of tools (Twitter goes down, Facebook makes
changes affecting your page).
•Emphasizes your marketing (or political) message – what problems you solve for the
•Where people come to check you out and take action (join, register, buy).
Is your site ready for action? (see handout)
•Think like a search engine – if Google can’t find you, you don’t exist - good search
engine optimization (SEO) - keywords.
•Dynamic - fresh content.
•Designed with visitor’s point of view in mind, how they would look for information;
include only what they would care about. Get it tested for usability.
•No flash – not mobile or search friendly.
•Good analytics – traffic patterns, where visitors come from, where they go after they
leave you, search terms used.
•RSS feed to push out new info to subscribers.
•Sharing button so visitors can share/spread your content (AddThis, ShareThis).
Find this blog post, take it to your next website meeting, or organize a website meeting
and discuss this.
Must do this, whether you’re going to do SM or not -- set up alerts.
Be positioned to know, respond, correct and engage. Know who’s talking about you.
Know where industry conversation is taking place.
Google Alerts, Twitter advanced search, Backtype (blog comments), Backtweets
(shortened urls that are used in Twitter and elsewhere, for example bit.ly links).
Decide on keywords. Check Google (website) Analytics for search terms used to come to
Assn name/variations/misspellings/acronym, affiliate names,
event/product/service names, CSE/leaders name, URL for web site/other sites,
competitors’ names, industry terms/phrases.
Biz use social media to respond to customer questions/complaints. Works for
associations too. Very useful at conferences.
Market research – social media as a never-ending online focus group.
Commoncraft videos – great explanation “in plain English” of RSS and Google Reader.
An RSS feed brings posts to you as they’re published. Read them when you have time,
won’t miss anything. No need to visit sites, content comes to you. Can organize Reader
1st step for personal use of social media – subscribe to blogs using RSS.
Find target audience - members, prospects, attendees, customers, thought leaders, policy-
makers and their staff, community influencers, traditional/new media.
Can’t count on “build it and they will come.” Start with the tool (Fb, Twitter, LI) that your target
audience already is using.
Upload email addresses. Simple process. However, can’t rely on this alone because your
members (or other targets) may be using a different email address than the one that you have in
Also, do member social media surveys (SurveyMonkey or Zommerang). Send one to everyone
then get this info from members as they join or renew.
•What socmed tools do you use regularly – personally and/or professionally?
•What blogs do you read professionally?
•Professional LinkedIn groups do you belong to?
•Professional Facebook groups/pages?
•What type of social media training would you like for your professional and business
development? Associations as social media coach for member – valuable member benefit.
And, check your Google (website) analytics – what sites are your visitors coming from and
leaving your page for?
Can’t throw up a page and walk away, requires daily attention.
Ideal – cross-departmental team. Social media touches many departments –
membership, member services, government affairs, public affairs/relations,
communication, events, education, IT, executive/governance. Anti-silo catalyst.
If small staff, supplement with members.
One person takes lead or specific responsibilities divided between a few with
input/collaboration from entire team. Who’s on the team? Who’s using social media
now, who’s a learner, who shares information, who’s a relationship-builder (particularly
Members - who’s a thought leader, who has social juice (influencer, sharer), who wants
professional branding opportunity?
Integrate social media w all communication – why it’s critical that this is a cross-dept
effort, touches all areas.
Team responsibilities – one person’s or divided among team. Must make time to do it. Raises issue – how to make room for new
responsibilities? Which programs need to be reviewed and eliminated? Are there sacred cows that need to go?
Content creation, collection and curation. Brainstorm monthly for content seeds – hot issues (use your listening tools to figure this
out), resources for younger generations (digital natives, different needs), continue conversations from publications/events. Content
must be interesting, valuable and something worth sharing.
Listening: Review (twice a day) RSS feeds of alerts from Google, Twitter, blogs, etc. Take note of hot topics.
Engaging/responding/nurturing – Respond to alerts, participate in conversations, moderate LI/FB/blog comments, nurture
conversation, post/share content.
Measuring – weekly log, review strategies/tactics.
Continual training, esp at the beginning – how to use tools wisely (assn and personal use), what working, what isn’t.
Coaching/mentoring of each others.
Requires communication – meetings, wiki/intranet.
Create guidelines (or policy) for staff that encourage best practices and outline what’s not appropriate (or just plain wrong –
copyright infringement, confidentiality issues, anti-trust, libel).
Image - http://www.flickr.com/photos/koalazymonkey/3596829214/
Discuss ahead of time – how do we handle negativity, for example, negative blog
comments, erroneous or critical information elsewhere.
Deleting negative comments – bad practice (seen as censorship), unless they’re trolls
(offensive, vulgar, etc.). Ideally, your community (fans, members) will address negative
comments on your behalf – that’s the goal.
PR crisis? How do you handle them now? Do you have a crisis communication plan? You
should. Adapt it for social media.
Will our governance prevent us acting in a nimble manner? Must be able to respond in a
matter of hours, no longer.
Who mans the listening post at nights, or last check of day/first of morning, on
weekends? Something can blow up during the weekend – will you know, can you
respond immediately and not have to wait until Monday morning?
Big issue – trust and control – train your staff and then you must let go and trust. Why
guidelines may evolve, why training and policy is necessary.
Issue – staff personal privacy. Views may evolve. Everyone has a different comfort level.
Discuss with staff – how to handle it when a member wants to be your Fb friend or
follow personal Twitter account. Walls between personal and professional lives may
crumble a bit.
Consider that in Google search, both personal and private activities appear side by side
and both live forever online.
Staff as 24/7 ambassadors of assn, new role.
•Negative – personal life is unbecoming (need to train staff on how to clean up
their personal profiles online, how to use privacy settings), sense of
privacy/comfort level is threatened.
•Positive – staff as face of assn - leads to relationships, people prefer to connect
with a person (rather than institution or logo) - social media
Success in social media = bring your personality to the space, makes you/assn more
interesting and accessible
Must schedule social media activity into daily work. The schedule will depend on
number of people involved.
Will need editorial/content schedule – work out ahead of time, keep content pipeline
Daily attention - 4-hour intervals (arrival, lunch, end of day). Set timer. Shut down apps
in between. Can send alerts to cell phone (FB comments/posts, Twitter
mentions/messages) so can respond in real time, or wait. Can post “office hours” so
people don’t expect a reply at night or on weekends.
Weekly time to nurture. Comment in LI groups, answer LI questions, comment on other
blogs. Find people to follow. Measure.
Content meetings – come up with content ideas.
Time-saving tools - Tweetdeck, Hootsuite, new tools all the time – these are
applications/dashboards that aggregate Twitter, Fb, LI. Can schedule tweets. Can post
Content feeds – feed blog posts into Twitter, Fb, LI.
Repurposing content so you can use one content idea in several ways on several platforms (different times/audiences). Example –
VA Assn of Realtors used same content on website, blog, Twitter and Facebook.
Idea - Email w link asking members to share answers on FB page. The conversation starts as “one to many” – email broadcast. If each
member replied back to email, it would be “one to one.” But now that it’s on Facebook, it’s a “many to many” conversation, where
you get to know your members, and your members get to know each other.
Market your outposts on home page (icons), social media page like this example from
Chicago Realtors, enewsletter link to blog or LI group or FB discussion, pre-event
powerpoint, email signatures, conferences (twitter hashtag), links in Twitter to blog, etc.
Be a social media coach on your website – give resources on why and how to use.
Before starting, define success in relation to strategic plan goal.
o What does that look like?
o Establish baseline – where do traffic, revenue, new members, registrants,
volunteers, etc. come from now?
Weekly log - number of group members, new discussions, number of comments, etc.
Track the click through rate of links (in Twitter, LI group, FB page, enewsletter), using a
URL shortener with analytics like bit.ly.
Where is website traffic coming from? Which platform/tool?
Collect data on where new members, registrants, volunteers come from?
Let’s look at how assns are using these tools.
Benefits of blog:
Like website, your homebase – in your control.
Huge content source for members (and others). Establishes assn as thought-leader.
Incorporating a blog into a website - huge impact on search engine rankings.
•Adds naturally occurring, keyword-rich pages. Dynamic.
•Increases potential for incoming links from high-quality websites.
Considerations - time and talent for content creation or collecting/curating – could supplement with member/guests posts, recommended reads (curate).
Comments - potential for negativity, requires moderation.
No blog – at least read/subscribe to blogs – market research.
Listen and comment – next slide.
Comment, participate in blog discussions, link back to your website. Establish online
presence that way.
LI groups – decision open (public) or closed (private, members-only). See below for
some considerations or my blog post (tag – LinkedIn).
Host discussions, share news/links, post jobs.
Subgroups – board, committees, SIGs – can be open or closed.
Lead generation – members, attendees, volunteers.
Create LI events – when someone clicks “attending” their network sees that – viral.
Open vs closed groups:
Time management -
• Public – Time saver
• Members-only - Can upload a CSV file of preapproved names/emails -
o Will have to manually approve members whose email addresses aren’t
on your list.
Advantages of public group:
• Larger community/audience for marketing, showing value (a peek under the
• Larger community for members to connect with others.
• Platform to find “lost” members and prospects.
• Participation of thought leaders who may not be members.
Advantages of members-only group:
• Exclusive benefit – still good argument today?
#1 symptom of failing LI group – too much noise (self-promotion, spam), not enough
real discussion. How to prevent?
Welcome members (can set up automated message), give them guidelines (what’s
encouraged, what’s not), contact info.
You must moderate your group (daily) to keep noise level down. Delete self-promoting
comments/discussions. Send message to the one who posted it and ask them to share
something of value, not disguised advertisement (content marketing). See example of
group gone wild, almost all spam.
Nurture your group:
•Ask questions about hot topics, how-to’s, questions younger members might ask.
•Idea - guest appearances from speakers or authors for a few days – interview, questions
from group (market it).
•Recognition for member contributions to community.
• Answer Questions or alert members to Questions – professional branding.
•Face-to-face meet-ups for group members.
Reserve name no matter what, document name, associated email and password
People don’t get Twitter – need to figure out whom to follow and how to engage.
Knowledge - news and link sharing - blog posts, articles, webinars, videos (see example)
– my #1 tool for prof dev (replaced Reader), curated content by my tweeps.
Marketing – promo codes (MPI), hashtag conferences/events – announcements,
Because of conversational nature (mix of personal/professional tweets), great platform
for peer-to-peer networking and relationship building.
Create Twitter lists – help members find each other and other ppl to follow.
Give your Twitter staff a face. Include their names in the bio, or note in the bio who’s on
duty now (so you’ll change the bio when each one goes on duty).
Sign tweets - ^MH
Put headshots in background.
Sharing/giving others the spotlight is highly effective on all social media tools. On
Twitter, retweet (RT/copy and share someone’s tweet giving them credit) good content.
Be conversational. Reply back to people, participate in conversations, answer and ask
questions. Don’t broadcast or self-promote only. Many do that, it’s not effective.
FB – always changing, particularly lately.
Pages are intended to be an “official” web page for your organization on Facebook.
Many advantages over Groups (my preference).
•Multiple administrators can be assigned to a page.
•No limits to the number of fans, need 25 fans to create a custom URL.
•Viral updates (shareable)
•However, creator of page is forever tied to the page, even if they leave your
employment. Huge failure on Fb’s part, and hopefully they’ll fix that because the social
media community is up in arms about it. If you are going to create a page, follow
instructions on http://socialmediab2b.com (Facebook is Doing It Wrong).
Groups can be created by anyone interested in promoting and organizing people around
a specific interests or cause.
•All members of a group have the ability to contribute content that appears on the
Group’s wall – photos, videos, discussion threads.
•3 types - Open (anyone can join), Closed (group admin approves requests to join) and
Secret (Only members and those invited know that the group exists).
Fb – excellent member platform for connecting to each other and participating in
discussion on your platform.
Content provider - share news, links, videos, blog feed, photos.
FB “Share” feature allows viral marketing – esp events.
Engage with your community. Respond to comments, questions. You have a (weekend)
presence in their lives.
Can’t write? Talk.
Answer typical questions (FAQ) – member and public.
How-to’s – vendor members.
Interviews to supplement magazine.
Special event videos.
Marketing conference speakers (previews/post), booth interviews/demos.
Lend Flip cameras to members – stories re volunteering, political action/lobbying day,
behind the scenes, a day in the life of (for young members/students).
Tips – create and customize your channel so it looks like your brand, moderate
comments, create playlists to organize videos, tag videos (search), engage (reply to
comments). Make it keyword-rich – YouTube is owned and indexed by Google.
Mobile – future, be ready for it.
•Younger members (and even older ones) are tied to cell phones. Is your website
•Applications – example from CA Assn of Realtors, created for members to use while
•Text campaigns – call for volunteers, political action, promo codes, conference goodies,
polling during conferences (Poll Everywhere).
•Foursquare – most popular location-based service. Application for assns? Still figuring
that out, perhaps conference/booth check-ins, volunteering. Another location-based
app DoubleDutch might be more association-friendly, very new app. Location-based
services are here to stay – Facebook launching one soon.
Crucial practices that will determine how successful you are in this space.
Content marketing – image from book to be published later this year – marketing/sales
via education and relationship-building. Position self publicly as content expert, thought
leader, trusted source.
Don’t promote, provide valuable content that leads someone to take action (register,
It’s social media -- people prefer to connect with a person (rather than a logo).
Success = bring whole personality, more interesting, differentiates, authentic. Be
conversational. Be yourself.
Share spotlight with others. Be a good social citizen. Share content of others, retweet,
give credit, thank, show appreciation, show that you care good social media karma.
Expectation of transparency for both organizations and people. See that everywhere –
form 990, political officials, companies.
Caveat – if you have habit of withholding information from membership or the public, or
putting a spin on things that isn’t quite honest, then beware. Negativity/bad
reviews/bad buzz travels much quicker and spreads faster on social media than in
Demand for authenticity, being who you say you are. Ghost-writing is tricky. Be up front
about who’s speaking/writing.
Control issue – you have no control over the perception that others have, their
perception is their reality (and so your reality). Why it’s important to listen, respond,
correct, add to conversation.
In contrast to traditional media, in social media we must engage, respond, allow and encourage conversation.
Retention cliché – get members engaged; works both ways, we need to engage with them.
If you can’t make daily effort to engage, moderate, respond, nurture conversation, then don’t take on social media.
Social media = Continual beta-testing.
Take some risks, try new things, innovate – if not now, when?
Mistakes and failures will happen, learn and move on.
Fear regret, not failure.
Social media cultural influence on your association because of new ways of
communicating and interacting:
New communication style – not broadcasting, but rather engaging.
More collaboration – between staff and on social media platforms.
Giving up control – need to train and trust staff.
More personality is encouraged.
More transparency is demanded.
Learning culture – everyone is learning about this new medium together in this space
and at your association.
Inevitable changes are coming to association due to younger generations’ expectations
and ways of associating, and due to influence on online communities (threat).
Goal - become community providing valuable services and knowledge, providing new
ways for members to connect with each other and with the association.
Deirdre Reid, CAE, is a consultant, speaker and trainer who helps organizations engage
their members and volunteers, embrace social media and build meaningful
communities. She has ten years experience in association management and 13 years
experience in small business management. At the California Building Industry
Association and the National Association of Home Builders she worked with national,
state and local association staff and leaders on membership recruitment, retention,
programs, planning and publications. She graduated from Georgetown University with a
B.A. in history. She is a member of the American Society of Association Executives and
the Association Executives of North Carolina. She received her Certified Association
Executive designation in 2010. Deirdre lives in the Raleigh NC area and enjoys yoga,
hiking, craft beer, food and cooking, reading and art.