We often hear, and it was recently affirmed in the Angerosa Research Foundation’s Web 2.0: How Associations Are Tapping Social Media report, that the reason many associations fail to execute social media initiatives is because they lack an internal champion or advocate. The benefits social media can bring to an association are significant and include engaging younger members, creating member interaction, connecting event attendees and driving membership growth. That’s why it’s so important that someone in your organization becomes your association’s social media champion. Here are some tips for how you can become that very important advocate in your organization:
- Don’t be intimidated
We often work with clients who are interested in social media, and some have been for some time, but have been paralyzed by their fear of the tools and technologies to get them started. It’s understandable that social media can be scary, but don’t let it prevent you from meeting your association goals. If you can’t do it on your own, look outside your organization to a company for help to get you started.
- Do your homework
Get familiar with the social media tools that are out there. You need to understand not only what they are, but also how they can be used to work to meet the needs of your association and its members. Social media is an active media. Simply setting up social media accounts will not position you in a way for success. Social media will be effective only if you learn how to harness its power to work for you.
- Network with colleagues
Just like you would talk with fellow association executives on other new initiatives, projects or issues to get their input, there is no reason not to do the same with social media. Seek colleagues who have embraced social media and learn how they are using it with their association. Your association’s needs won’t be exactly the same as others, but it will give you a frame of reference and some good case studies to use to help build your case for social media.
- Establish goals
Once you’ve grasped the fundamentals of social media and connected with others already using it in the association community, think about what you want social media to accomplish for your association. Are you struggling to recruit younger members? Are you trying to address member attrition? Or are you trying to increase your website’s traffic so that you can generate more online revenues? What’s important is that on the front-end you think about what you want your social media indicatives to accomplish so you will have a case for why you need to pursue these efforts and how they will bring value to your organization.
- Set a strategy
Now that you know what your goals are, you need to determine which social media tools, alone or in combination, will be part of your social media strategy. This is when the preliminary research and networking you did will pay off because it will allow you to customize your strategy to that which is optimal for your association.
- Make your case
You’ve created a social media strategy for your association and now it’s time for you to make the case to the key decision makers. Be prepared: Develop a list of obstacles you predict will be raised by your senior leadership. Share how other associations are successfully using social media. Paint a picture as to how you would implement your strategy in phases, and how it will be measured.
- Execute your plan
Congratulations! Your social media project has been approved and you are ready to implement it. Once it’s in place, don’t forget how important it is to keep up with the content and the tools. Social media requires constant attention and fresh content so make sure you have the resources in place to maintain the quality you planned for. And if you need help, contact us.