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Turn It Up: How to Increase the Power of Social Media in Your Association - 6/17/2014 -

AM&P’s advanced-level preconference on social media tackled questions like how to get members engaged and how to show ROI.

By Lauren Jonas

Social Media — am I doing it right? That's often the question on my mind, and generally on that of my friends in the field. We wonder what others are doing, what new trend we might be missing, if we are measuring the right metrics, and on and on.

Social media is a fascinating, bewildering, constantly evolving communication mechanism that mirrors human behavior; it's just as complex, nuanced, and full of rich opportunities for associations.

So, "Turn It Up: Increase the Power of Social Media” was a welcome opportunity for the crowd assembled at the preconference workshop at the Association Media & Publishing Annual Meeting on May 19th. We began the day in a way that epitomizes social sharing — crowd-sourcing our burning questions. We used a very simple device: easels, paper, and markers. How refreshing to get that reminder — that the cutting-edge tools of social media are but one set of options, and that we should use all communication methods available, and use them in ways that make the most sense. Sometimes, proven methods such as talking to smart people, in person, and listing your problems on paper are most effective.

The two questions that crowd-surged to the top were: How do I get members engaged? How do I show ROI? No surprise there — those are the most-asked questions by association social media experts, so I knew I was in for a valuable experience. Everyone seemed to feel the same, and no one wanted to stop talking. In fact, the moderator had to rein us in to focus our attention: "Clap once if you can hear me, clap twice if you can hear me…”

The most useful part of the day, which gave me actionable ideas to take back to the office that week, was the content ideas presentation. Here's my take-away:

  1. Storify things like live events, milestones, and twitter chats. Check out this nice "how-to" example.
  2. Study key words in Google Analytics — something I've been doing for some time. It’s a tool that's not as complicated as many people think.
  3. Friend your membership team — learn what members are asking and make sure you're answering.
  4. Blog. A lot. Short blogs, photo blogs, news.
  5. Create photo/video contests — could be as simple as awarding a Starbucks gift card to the tweet-of-the-day at your conferences and events.
  6. Create a meme or series of infograms — two simple tools are piktochart.com and canva.com.
  7. Take advantage of the more visual twitter feed (keep images at a 2:1 ratio), and remember that you can put as much text as you want in the photo.
  8. Newsjacking — connect news to your association. If the Olympics are coming, for instance, a science-teaching organization might connect videos on sports science.
  9. Use Facebook and Twitter as news aggregators.
  10. The audience then developed the tips for the last spot in the top 10 list — use Hootsuite to do keyword searches in social, find people to respond to on Twitter, and celebrate historical events. Quotes are quite popular.

The workshop also featured a really helpful Facebook advertising component, where I learned a lot. For instance, you can now use Shutterstock in your ads — great time-saver — and you can make a set of ads and see how they perform. The presenter's advice — "take advantage of the ability to make adjustments in real time" — is a mantra for what we do every day in this realm. It's what makes social media so powerful, and sometimes so challenging. The ability and need to evolve constantly with the needs and demographics of our members and society in general are the secret of the sauce.

So, how did it all end? The "clap once if you can hear me, clap twice if you can hear me" strategy went viral! I noticed people using it in subsequent sessions and smiled each time. Our online behavior really does mirror our daily interactions, and the opposite is true too.

Lauren Jonas is director, social media and e-messaging at the National Science Teachers Association. Association Media & Publishing thanks her for volunteering to cover this pre-conference workshop for our members who were unable to attend.


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