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Lunch & Learn: Creating a Content Strategy that Works for your Association - 3/16/2017 -

By Cecilia Aleman

In an age of mass communication, many organizations are constantly searching for the best ways to engage with their members. Today, associations have multiple content resources to choose from including websites, social media, blogs, magazines, e-newsletters, podcasts ó and the list goes on.

But how do associations ensure that the right content is getting into their membersí hands and resonating with them?

At AM&Pís February Lunch & Learn session, Katie Mason, principal of Team of Creatives, LLC, and Diane Rusignola, deputy editor of the Association of Convenience & Fuel Retailing, broke down the pieces needed to create a content strategy that works.

Statistics show that you have a limited amount of time to capture a readerís attention. Your content is valuable and sharing it with your members can boost your association as a whole. A good content strategy helps your association reach the right audience, at the right time, with the right message.

While messages and visions for each association are different, all good content strategies are comprised of similar key elements. Here are the seven elements Mason and Rusignola laid out for creating a successful strategy.

1. Inventory. How many different ways does your association share content? Examine each channel and understand which ones work best. For some, websites are the first stop for finding original content. Others have discovered social media is their top platform for reaching an audience. Evaluate the purpose, frequency, and tone of your content for each platform.

2. Analysis. Are readers opening your digital newsletters or sharing your content on social media? Really dig deep into what content works with your members. Find out what is performing well through a variety of tools such as simple surveys or analytics software.

3. Message. One of the most important pieces of a content strategy is to understand who your members are and to create a voice for them. If your content speaks to their needs, it will ultimately perform better. One innovative way of investigating this process can be through constructing reader personas. Create identities that represent your members to truly understand why particular forms of content will engage or benefit them.

4. Structure and Delivery. It is common for messages to change tone depending on the content platform being used. Does your associationís content match across all of the various channels used to share it? Some messages work better in a condensed format on social media while others will be more engaging in a publication or newsletter.

5. Oversight and Maintenance. Who is in charge of your associationís content analysis and distribution consistency? Get as many team members involved in maintaining the strategy and its goal. Collaboration is a huge key to successful content strategies.

6. Measurement. Establish performance indicators and set benchmarks for success. For example, how well does the bi-weekly newsletter you send out perform? Does your association send it out consistently, to the same audience, at the same time? Research some of the top trends for different types of content and how well they do.

7. Design. How your content appears can have a huge impact on membership engagement. Do readers have a good experience when receiving your content? Do they feel connected with your association based on the way your content is presented to them? Create a look that resonates with your members.

There is no perfect content strategy out there, but there is a distinct formula for creating a successful one. Always make sure your strategy aligns with the overall strategic plan and vision of your association. A good content strategy will ensure that your associationís overall goals are being met and that your members are consistently engaged.

Cecilia Aleman is a multimedia production assistant for Water Environment & Reuse Foundation. Association Media and Publishing sincerely thanks her for covering this event for our members who were unable to attend.


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