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A Story-Telling Checklist - 3/13/2012 -

Before putting your association’s stories out on social media sites, boost your content quality by thinking through this short list of questions.

By Beverly Sturtevant

Associations use social media to reach their existing community of members, as well as to expand into new communities of potential members. Social media is also a great tool for enhancing or supporting an existing message, observing market trends, gathering feedback, and boosting your association’s overall market share of web traffic.

Perhaps the greatest use for social media, however, is story telling. Used properly, social media is a great way to share your association’s activities and initiatives without looking like you’re selling anything (except perhaps the soft sell of what a great organization yours is because you have such a wonderful story to tell). Here is a checklist for association publishing teams looking to tell their stories on social media. Ask yourself:

• What do our members and expanded audience care about?

• Where do they regularly receive their information (sources beyond your association)?

• What are our association’s most compelling stories?

• Who is best equipped to tell our stories and why? (Keeping in mind that this may change from CEO to staff to freelancer to member, depending on what the story is.)

• Do the stories tell what our association is doing or what our association aspires to do? (Both can work on social media, especially, in the latter case, if you are trying to rouse your members to a call-to-action.)

• Which social media platforms will optimize each story?

• Do our staff members have the skills to tell these stories effectively, or do we need outside help?

• Do we have the resources to execute what we want to achieve?

The keys to great social media story telling are transparency, authenticity, and the willingness to learn from your community if they respond and engage to what you release into the social realm. Resist the temptation to use social media as a marketing channel or a "short-burst” campaign (where you disappear and reappear from the social scene only when you have a promotional message to get out).

Bottom line: Social media is beyond mere strategy. It is a powerful business philosophy that can secure your association’s viability with the next generation of members.

Beverly Sturtevant is assistant editor for Association Media & Publishing’s Signature magazine and a member of the Association Media & Publishing Content Creation Committee.


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