6 Simple Steps to Help Your Organization Interact, Engage and Celebrate with Members via Social Media

by DJ MullerMuller Headshot

For years member-based organizations have existed to bring together a group of individuals with common interests, attitudes and opinions.  Fittingly, they have long represented the traditional network and served as the ultimate way for people to connect.  However, as technology has had, and continues to have, a significant impact on the ways that we interact and communicate, we have come to expect information with the snap of a finger.

Your members are no exception to this trend.  Luckily for you, in today’s tech-driven environment there are a multitude of cost effective tools that you can use to communicate and engage with your audience.  One of the most well known and widely used is social media.  From Facebook to LinkedIn to Twitter, the creation and implementation of a social media strategy that attracts, retains and engages an audience is critical to maintaining member relationships and heightening the exposure of your organization.

Here are 6 simple steps to help you maximize your social media communication efforts:

  1. Set Goals. First and foremost, you must establish your purpose and set goals designed to accomplish that purpose.  For example, you may desire to increase your member’s engagement and interaction across your social media channels.  As a means to measure your progress, and ultimately success, you could set a goal to increase the amount of likes, shares and retweets that your connections and followers post.

 Always remember that your goals should be specific, timely, relevant and attainable.  You do not want to set your self up for failure and setting SMART goals will help to ensure that you are on track to implementing a social media strategy that drives results.

  1. Make a plan. With your goals set, you must now design a plan that will help you meet those goals.  Planning can often be overwhelming, especially when you are creating and developing a strategy that is subject to the unpredictability of the human behavior.  Despite this, you must realize that if you are patient and take the time to actively listen to and observe your audience, you will be more likely to realize success in the long run.  The following tips will help you get started:
  • Gather Data.  Before you can begin to maximize your communication efforts, you must gather data that will aid you in making informed, strategic decisions.  Use the tools that you have readily available, including the information in your current association management software (AMS) and web analytics, to collect information that reveals which social media platforms are the most popular among your members.  Additionally, consider creating surveys to ask members their preferred means of communication.  After performing the necessary research, you can choose which social platforms will best meet your organization’s needs and the needs of your members and target audience.
  • Name a Manager.  Once you have established your primary social media platforms, you should appoint one person to manage all of the accounts.  This will prevent the duplication of information and ensure that your organization maintains a consistent tone, voice and personality across all channels.
  • Create a Calendar. Beyond designating a single social media manager, it is important to create a calendar that will help you get organized. You can use tools such as HootSuite, Sprout Social or Buffer to schedule the times and days of the week that you want to post specific content. Make sure to observe and note the days of the week and times of the day that your members are the most active.  Additionally, don’t be afraid to test and experiment with the timing and types of your content posts.
  1. Create Quality Content.  Content is king when it comes to effectively marketing your organization and engaging your target audience.  Make sure that you showcase your expertise within the industry by posting original content.  Master the art of content creation and curation, share relevant content from thought leaders within your industry, include images, videos and links in posts, ask questions, be responsive to your members and celebrate your organization’s and its members’ achievements.  

Download the e-book, 6 Ways to Produce Content Your Members Will Value, for more tips and techniques on how to create content that engages your target audience.

  1. Follow Through. Creating a plan is one thing, sticking to that plan and following through is a whole new ball game.  To keep your organization’s audience energized share company and member stories, respond to comments and questions, create contests, sponsor giveaways, participate in chats and, most importantly, be yourself!  Social media is great opportunity for you to increase the exposure of your organization and let your personality shine through. 
  1. Monitor Behavior.  Monitoring the behavior of your social media accounts will help you determine where to focus your future marketing efforts, as well as provide you with insights into the performance and effectiveness of your different content campaigns.  Make sure to use monitoring tools, including Facebook Insights, LinkedIn Analytics, Google Alerts, TweetDeck, Klout, Social Mention and Pinterest Web Analytics, to help guide you in your efforts.
  1. Measure Your ROI. After you have set goals and initiated a plan, it is time to see if that plan is working.  Measuring the ROI of your marketing initiatives is essential to justifying both the monetary and time expenditures of future plans. Although there is no universal way for each and every organization to measure the ROI of its social media, and accurately measuring its value can be tricky, there are a few tools that you can use to help get started.  For example, you can use your existing AMS to track social media profiles, try the social reports feature within Google Analytics or access online calculators such as HubSpot’s ROI calculator that can help you measure your social media traffic conversions and quantitatively place a value on your social media efforts. 

Unfortunately, social media strategy is not a perfect science. In order to get it right you must be open to experimentation.  The six steps outlined above provide you and your team with the foundation that it needs to start maximizing your social media presence.  Make sure to set SMART goals, design a plan, execute that plan and use the necessary tools to track your progress and, ultimately, measure your success.

Additionally, never forget to engage, interact and celebrate with your members, after all they are your most important assets.

DJ Muller is president and founder of WebLink International, the creators of WebLink Connect™ the innovative, insightful and intuitive association management software with superior customer support. WebLink empowers hundreds of trade and professional associations and more than 500,000 small and medium businesses to help them acquire and retain more customers. Learn more at weblinkinternational.com.

Living in Real Time Is Within Your Grasp

Living in Real Time Is Within Your Grasp
by Jeff Davidson, MBA, CMC

In your quest to keep pace with all that’s thrown at you, do you find yourself frequently preoccupied?  It seems as if everyone is in overdrive today.  We don’t enjoy the morning, because we’re always in a rush, concerned about getting to work on time. We don’t enjoy our lunch, because we’re worried about what’s going to occur in the afternoon, or what needs to be done.  We don’t enjoy the afternoon, because we’re thinking about how we have to pick up our children, get across town to attend a meeting, and then get back.  We don’t enjoy the evening, because it goes by too fast.
How would your life be if you had the ability to tackle problems and challenges as they arise?  What would it feel like to engage in conceptual thinking whenever you wanted or needed to?  What if you had a sense of control and ease about each day?  If all these components were a part of your life, you would be living in “real time.”

What it’s Like to Live in Real Time
One executive with a North Carolina association, finds that a key strategy for effectiveness is taking phone calls as often as practical when they come in, rather than letting them pile up. By taking phone calls as they come in, she’s able to interact with the party calling, and is able to often resolve the issue during the call.

“When you let the number of return calls you have to make build up beyond a certain level,” she says, “you ensure that you won’t get back to all the callers, and you’re going to procrastinate when it comes to calling many of them.”

She also finds it useful to deal with mail and papers that come across her desk as they arrive, but concedes that this isn’t always feasible. Concurrently, she know the importance of keeping distractions at bay when she need to focus on the task at hand.

Go for Completion
An entrepreneur in solo practice in Lexington NC, finds value in carrying a task to completion instead of leaving it for later, when it might be one of a growing number of tasks that require additional effort.

He observes that even if it doesn’t “feel good,” sticking with the task at hand is one of the most effective ways of staying in real time and getting things off your desk, be it fielding a phone call, returning correspondence, or working on a budget.

You may know people who live in real time, or who live out significant chunks of their life in real time.  Who are these people?  These are the people who stay in shape, have the time to take a phone call, and actually know the names of each of her children’s friends.  This is the person who volunteers for and takes an active role in community organizations.

These are worthwhile achievements; elements of life within your potential.  Take a look at twelve components of living in real time, with the realization that each of these are within your grasp.

1. Leave home in the morning with grace and ease.  If you can manage the beforehand by taking care of as many things as possible the night before, in the morning you only have to get bodies out the door.  No need to have a mad rush, because you’ve got everything ready to go.

2. Focus on the important issues facing your organization, your department or division, and your job or career.  You have to pay homage to the issues that you identify as important in your life, and have the strength to ignore the less important.  Magically, when you handle the important things, the others fall into place.

3. Handle and address the mail when it arrives, keep piles from forming on your desk, and handle phone calls within 24 hours.  No need to be inundated by receiving too much mail, or have piles that rise ever-higher on your desk, or have a mounting number of calls to return.

4. Enjoy a leisurely lunch.  Know the importance of completing tasks, so that when you go to lunch, you’re at lunch.  Take the time to chew slowly and carefully.  Give up reading the newspaper, and focus on the food in your mouth.  Old sensations may return.  You actually enjoy your lunch, digest your food better, do better back on the job, and have better elimination.  What a deal!
Some insist on having lunch away from their desks.  By getting away from the office, they are able to regenerate their batteries, and focus on their work and how they’ll approach it. They feel that when you stay at your desk too long, every task competing for your attention, big and small, seems urgent.
By getting away at lunchtime, they are able to stay focused on the big picture.  They find that having the outside lunch enables them to return to the office with new-found energy.

5. Depart from the work place at normal closing hours and feel good about what you accomplish each day.  Leaving the workday on time is the single most important step towards permanently living in real time.  When you use the magic phrase, “What do I need to accomplish by the end of the day to feel good about leaving on time?”,  you have little excuse for leaving in a bad mood.

6. Have sufficient and up-to-date health, life, disability, and automobile insurance coverage.  If you want to live in real time, this is part of the overall picture.  Getting adequate insurance to protect you and your loved ones is bound to be one of the goals that support your overall priorities.

7. File your income taxes on time.  In any given year, nearly 40% of taxpayers seek an extension!  You, on the other hand, once making the decision to live in real time, know too well that taxes will always be around and completing your own tax returns on a timely basis yields peace of mind, once you’re done.

8. Take time to be with friends and relatives.  People, not things, count most in life.  Remembering your priorities and supporting goals, and becoming adept at making decisions, carve out time on your scheduling software, or appointment calendar, to ensure that you don’t shortchange the key people in your life.

9. Stay in shape and at your desired weight.  When you observe the bodies of most people, you can see the results of a losing tug of war with gravity – but gravity need not win.  Fitness experts say that working out for only 30 minutes a day can keep you comfortably fit.  As I observed in my book, Breathing Space: Living and Working at a Comfortable Pace in a Sped-Up Society, if you’re too busy to stay in shape, you’re too busy!

10. Make time for hobbies.  On the way to losing your time, did you abandon enjoyable activities that were a part of what made you who you are?  Revisit that stamp collection or your garden, the hiking club or whatever you let slide.  Living in real time means enjoying your most rewarding hobbies and pastimes on a regular basis.

11. Participate monthly in a worthy cause.  It’s not possible to give your time and attention to all worthy causes, or even many worthy causes.  Your life is finite regardless of how long you live.  When you pick the one or two that matter most, and take action, you feel good about yourself and about how you’re spending your time.

Some of the factors that increase the probability of your paying homage to these causes include: having to undertake little travel to participate, enjoying your co-participants, getting a psychological stroke when you participate (an internal reward), and receiving recognition for your efforts (external rewards).

12. Drop back at any time, take a long deep breath, collect your thoughts, and renew your spirit.

Jeff Davidson, “The Work-Life Balance Expert®,” is the world’s leading personal brand in terms of speaking, writing, or reflecting upon work-life balance issues. He is the author of  “Dial it Down, Live it Up,” “Simpler Living,” “Breathing Space,” “The 60 Second Self-Starter,” “The 60 Second Organizer,” “The 10 Minute Guide to Managing Your Time,” and “The 10 Minute Guide to Managing Stress,” as well as 24 iPhone apps in the “Work-Life Guide” series. His books have been published in 19 languages, and in aggregate 141 times. Jeff is an Advisory Board member for The Organized Executive, a monthly publication of the Columbia Books, Washington DC. He holds the registered trademark as “The Work-Life Balance Expert.” Jeff can be reached at http://www.BreathingSpace.com