Social Media For Job Hunters

Clarke, Bruce 2014By Bruce Clarke, J.D.

Are you seeking a new position in your field? You will be much more successful if you understand the methods company recruiters use to select candidates.

First, HR recruiters will view your LinkedIn account. If you do not have one established, you are at a real disadvantage. If you do have a LinkedIn account, you can depend on potential employers performing a careful review of your online network. They will read every single one of your LinkedIn references, too, so you should ensure that your profile properly reflects your true skills and abilities.

Good HR recruiters, however, do not stop with LinkedIn. They regularly follow and connect with candidates who have a genuine interest in your business and industry. Interacting with candidates via Facebook and LinkedIn accounts provides recruiters with an advantage in finding the best people to fill positions quickly and effectively.

We live in a time when job hunters must be engaged via social media to be viewed as relevant and current.

In the job market, you are competing with students fresh from colleges where faculty and students alike use social networking sites for class communication. Some professors even use Twitter and Facebook to disperse assignments. The Jenkins Graduate School of Management at North Carolina State University is addressing the demand for social-media-savvy employees through courses on social media in its MBA curricula.

Social media recruiting is still in its relative infancy, though. There are no specific laws as yet from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission covering the legal limits of social networks for recruiting beyond what is stated in the traditional Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures.

Many companies have established metrics to calculate the success of their recruiting efforts. They look at page views of their blog, followers on their social media accounts, retweets of recruitment opportunity announcements on Twitter, and discussions on a firm’s wall posts on Facebook. If the results are low for any of these, chances are the smart company will take steps to improve its social media presence overall, not just for recruiting.

Of course, social media is not the only answer for the recruitment process. As a candidate, you will be interviewed in person and/or over the phone to provide the recruiter with a sense of whether you will be a good fit for the corporate culture. But that step only comes after you have successfully made it through the social media process.

The recruiter will more than likely Google your name to see what comes up. You should do this regularly yourself and remove anything you do not want recruiters to see.

A recent Wall Street Journal investigation found that the online tracking of individuals is pervasive.  According to WSJ, the 50 most popular U.S. websites regularly install tracking technology onto your computer.

You may not realize it, but you have been building a reputation since the first day you signed onto Facebook or posted to an online discussion group. Be smart about what you post online. Your next job

Bruce Clarke, J.D., is CEO of CAI, helping more than 1,000 NC employers maximize employee engagement and minimize employer liability. For more information, visit www.capital.org.

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The Emergence of the Chief Data Officer: Part 1 of 3

We’re inundated with data. So what? Why care? How does it benefit my association? This three-part series will help you use data to improve your marketing strategies and, ultimately, your bottom line. Part 1 focuses on the emergence of the Chief Data Officer. Part 2 will share practical tips to mine your data. Part 3 will discuss measuring your data through branding, social media and website scorecards.

  • All marketing efforts are measurable and data is not only one of associations’ most valued tools, but a must-have marketing tool.
  • There are more than 100 chief data officers (carrying that actual job title) serving in large enterprises today. That’s more than double the number we counted in 2012.
  • Start determining how you can better use data for the benefit of your association by using Google Analytics (if you’re not already), employing a lead generation (or member generation) scorecard, and by conducting an audit of your current marketing activities.

What is data anyway?

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, data is factual information (as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion or calculation. Data is plentiful today, but often underutilized. Data is also meaningless unless it is reviewed, analyzed and used to make mission-critical association decisions.

As an integrated marketer, I believe all marketing efforts are measurable and data is not only one of associations’ most valued tools, but a must-have marketing tool. One of my favorite quotes about data comes from Carly Fiorina, former executive president and chair of Hewlett-Packard, who said: “The goal is to turn data into information and information into insight.” See Hank Berkowitz’s article for more on turning data into actionable intelligence.

In other words, companies and marketers have data, but what are they really doing with it? That is the critical question?

Chief Data Officers are the newest trend

We are already beginning to see the newest C-Suite title emerge: Chief Data Officer (CDO).

In May 2013, Data Management Association President Peter Aiken told Information Management that Chief Data Officers are “more vital than ever.” In August, the Federal Reserve hired its first CDO.

The discussion around the CDO title began in 2012. According to an article by Associations Now, “there is an opportunity for more associations to get in on the data hype,” said Debbie King, CEO of DSK Solutions. Most associations, especially small to mid-size, might not need such a high-level data officer, but instead may hire a director or manager of data information.

The title event has a Wikipedia entry, which defines the role as “a corporate officerresponsible for enterprise-wide governance and utilization of information as an asset, viadata processing, analysis, data mining information trading and other means.”

“There are also Chief Data Officer (CDO) titles emerging given the increasingly complex challenge of Data Management, and growth of Big Data and Analytics, as our world continues to explode in data everywhere,” according to Cindy Gordon, CEO and founder ofSalesChoice Inc. “The new rabbit hole is a very promising one, as companies are increasingly turning to sales analytics solutions that provide an enterprise-wide data flow to maintain a competitive position in the market. Companies are turning to sales prediction analytic solutions that provide an enterprise-wide data flow intelligence into the forecasting process.”

ZDNet cites Gartner Vice President and Analyst Debra Logan in one of its blogs: “Data chiefs tend to have a more compliance-focused role and are emerging, for example, in banking and insurance and in companies with a burden of litigation and regulation.” Some 19 percent of business leaders expect to recruit a CDO in 2014, while 17 percent foresee a CDO appointment, according to a study by Gartner.

Gartner Analyst Mark Raskino shares five interesting facts about CDOs:

  1. There are more than 100 chief data officers (carrying that actual job title) serving in large enterprises today. That’s more than double the number we counted in 2012.
  2. Banking, Government and Insurance are the Top 3 industries for Chief Data Officers—in that order. However, we are now seeing other industries rising.
  3. Sixty-five percent of Chief Data Officers are in the United States. 20 percent are in the UK. There are now CDOs in more than a dozen countries.
  4. More than 25 percent of all Chief Data Officers are in New York or Washington, D.C. It’s a regulatory catalyzed trend—at least in the early stages.
  5. More than 25 percent of Chief Data Officers are women.In case you are wondering, that’s almost twice as high as for CIOs (13 percent).

Data? So what?

Some predict marketers will fail as we face volumes of data that machines are better at processing. Whether you agree or disagree with data, the truth is it exists and is plentiful today. Dashboards and analytics offer a great deal of information about demographics, geographics, traffic resources and much more information than ever before.

Data can expand your knowledge about your industry, competitors, customers and prospects. It can validate or not validate business models and the needs for new products. It can help identify your competitive advantages and market differentiators. It can help formulate marketing strategies. It can provide industry benchmarks and best practice Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). It can help measure and track Return on Investment (ROI) so you can adjust marketing strategies accordingly. In essence, data can inform mission-critical business decisions and make a difference to your bottom line.

Are you using available data to benefit your association?

Most associations can better incorporate data analysis into their strategic missions. Here are three tips:

  1. Connect Google Analytics—a free tool—to your website and review the data at a minimum of once a month. This offers detailed insights about where your traffic is coming from. For example, is your website responsive on mobile devices. One of my B2B (business-to-business) clients receives 20 percent of its website traffic from smartphones and tablets.
  2. While there are many ways to capture and measure data, perhaps the simplest method is a scorecard. For starters and food for thought, here’s a lead generation scorecard we hope you will use and share.
  3. Conduct a marketing audit of your current efforts using the data and analytics you have—even if that data is feedback from your members. Determine what is working well, identify gaps and areas for improvement, then brainstorm about new marketing strategies and tactics that will help you achieve your business goals for 2014.

Download a complimentary marketing audit template from Christina Motley, LLC byregistering here.

Christina Motley is an integrated Chief Marketing Officer (CMO)-on-Demand and member of the Association Executives of North Carolina (AENC) and serves on its Communications Task Force A. Learn more at www.christinamotley.com.

3 Simple Social Media Strategies to See Real Results in 2014

by Corey Perlman

With social media, if you’re not generating new leads or building stronger relationships with existing customers, then it’s just a hobby. And it you’re like me, the last thing you need is a new hobby.

This article will offer three ways for your company to see improved results with your social media efforts.

1. Fish where the fish are.

Where are your customers and potential customers spending time online? Are they active on Twitter? If not, why should you be? You don’t have to be on all social media sites. REPEAT: You don’t have to be on all social media sites.

Decide where your audience is spending time and plant your flag on those sites. If you’re typically targeting businesses, LinkedIn is probably the place you’ll want to spend the most time. With over a billion users on Facebook, chances are good that some of your prospects are active on that site.

Action: Ask 10 current customers to rank in order the sites that they spend the most time on. Use Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ as their choices. Follow up by asking how many times in the past month they’ve used each of those sites. You’ll notice a pattern and stay focused on the sites they ranked highest.

2. Be proud of your Digital Footprint.

When people go to the web and do research on your company, are they impressed by what they see?  Do you gain or lose credibility when someone visits your LinkedIn profile?  Today, most first impressions happen online and, with a little bit of effort, you can control much of what they see. Here are three quick ways to put your best digital foot forward:

  1. Have an attractive, user-friendly Website. I don’t care what the other social media pundits say, your Website is still your most important piece of online real estate. It needs to look professional and give your visitors the info they’re looking for in a clear and concise way.  If there’s too much clutter, too little content, or just frustrating to use, it can sabotage your efforts in gaining new members. In my new book, Social Media Overload!I share the five Website mistakes that most businesses make and how to avoid them. 
  2. Increase your fans, followers and friends. If it’s a social media site like a Facebook fan page or LinkedIn profile, nothing says small, unpopular or old fashioned than low numbers. So work on getting lots of fans to your Facebook page, connections to your LinkedIn profile or followers to your Twitter account. Always build your numbers—they matter.
  3. Improve Your LinkedIn Profile. As far as individual social media profiles go, LinkedIn is the place where people tend to go to check you out. Most of your information is public and your profile typically ranks well on the search engines when people search for your name. So it’s important to have a professional looking profile that sells you and your company.

 Action: Here are four things you can do to give your LinkedIn profile a quick makeover:

  1. Upload a current photo. The key word there is current.
  2. Work on those connections. I want everyone reading this to get to at least 250  quality connections — preferably people that you know.
  3. Work on your professional summary. Your LinkedIn profile is not a resume. So your summary should not be a history of your work. Instead, share your role with your organization and some of the benefits to working with you. Talk in terms of your readers’ interests.
  4. Get three quality recommendations. These should be from customers who have benefited from working with you and include reasons why they value the relationship.

3. Be Known as a Thought-leader

What could you share or write about that your customers and prospects would deem interesting or valuable? You should ask yourself this question before you share anything on social media.

It doesn’t matter the channel. It could be your blog, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile or Twitter feed, I want you sharing information that will benefit your audience.

Over time, you’ll start to build trust and credibility with them.

This is, by far, the most effective way to sell your value and yourself. If you deliver this much great material on the web, imagine what they’ll get by working with you.

If you remember nothing else from this article, remember to always Make It About Them. It’s the golden rule to seeing results with social media.

About Social Media Overload:

I wrote this book to help businesses avoid the trap of being overwhelmed by all the hype surrounding social media and focus on the areas that can actually produce results.

The book will help you:

  • Decide which social media sites you need to pay attention to and the sites you can ignore.
  • Avoid Website mistakes almost every business makes.
  • Strengthen your reputation on Google and other 3rd party sites.
  • Stay connected with prospects until they become customers.
  • Generate real business results from Facebook.
  • Learn powerful LinkedIn strategies to turn cold calls into warm leads.

It will serve as a roadmap for you and your team on how to increase leads, strengthen credibility, build long-term relationships, and win referral business.

Please connect with me and let me know how it has helped you! You can email me at corey@ebootcamp.com – send me a copy of your receipt and I’ll send you bonus material from me and my all-star advisors ($1,000 value).

link: www.socialmediaoverload.com/book-bonuses

Corey Perlman is an entrepreneur, best selling author and nationally-recognized social media expert. His first book, eBoot Camp, (Wiley) became an Amazon.com bestseller and received global attention with distribution rights deals in both China and India. He delivers keynote presentations and workshops to audiences all over the world.

Corey’s company, eBoot Camp, Inc., is a social media marketing company that builds and manages online marketing campaigns for businesses.   

Connect with Corey:

www.coreyperlman.com

www.socialmediaoverload.com

855-EBOOT-NOW

www.Facebook.com/eBootCamp

www.Linkedin.com/in/coreyperlman

www.Twitter.com/CoreyPerlman 

To see Corey in action, go to YouTube.com/eBootCamp 

Your Momma’s Rules To Keep Other People From Getting You And Your Outfit In Antitrust Trouble

By David Bagwell

1. Who’s Giving the Party? When you were 15, your Momma wouldn’t let you go to a party unless the right group sponsored it (like a church, or school, or somebody’s parents). You couldn’t just say “Momma, a few couples are getting together in the woods”. Same deal here; your Momma was right. Don’t go to any meetings unless there is a clear and proper sponsor, and it is the right kind of officially-recognized body which is properly-constituted, broadly-based, and well-run. Otherwise, you may get in more trouble than you can handle.

2. “What’s Up?” Your Momma wanted to know “what kind of party is it?’. She was right; there is a difference between drinking and skating, and she wanted to know what was going on. Same deal here. What is going on? If they don’t send you a written agenda in advance, you really shouldn’t go. (It is not an “agenda” if all it says is (1) old business, (2) new business, (3) other”, or anything like that.)

3. Chaperones. When you were 15, your Momma wouldn’t let you go unless a chaperone was going. A lawyer is kind of like a chaperone; they tend to spot any developing troublemakers and throw them out of the party. If no lawyer is going to be there to chaperone, it is a sign the party might get too wild, and maybe you shouldn’t go.

4. Stay Out of the Bushes. Your Momma knew that if you left the party, you were more likely to get in trouble. She was right. Don’t go to “rump sessions” before, during or after meetings; the natural human temptation is to talk business there, and your business is best discussed openly in the proper forum. It is okay to have lunch with a friend or two, but don’t let it turn into a “rump session” (hard to define, but we all know it when we see it; so see it before it is too late).

5. No Select Groups. Remember how it hurt your feelings when some people got invited to the party but you didn’t? Same deal here. If they don’t invite the whole class, don’t go. Especially don’t go if they call it something stupid like “let’s gel the ‘big three’ together”. That kind of talk will just get you in trouble; don’t go.

6. Don’t Get Taken in By Sweet Words. Your Momma told you they would talk sweet to you; don’t get taken in. She was right. It would be simple if you could spot antitrust trouble just by seeing an evil-looking guy in a cloak and silk hat and a waxed mustache who whispered “Pst! Let’s conspire!”. They don’t do that. People sometimes unknowingly fall into conspiracies, pulled in by other nice-seeming people who say “let’s get on the same wavelength”, or “let’s sort it out before the meeting”, or ‘let’s get our story straight”. If they whisper to you like that, they arc the Devil. Don’t be tempted. Don’t go. It can only get you in trouble. Your ‘story” is open and honorable and firmly-based on correct data, and your story is already straight”. The only time you need to be on the “same wavelength” as anybody else is when you both tune in to the religious channel on your separate radios.

7. Don’t Let Them Spike the Punch. Your Momma suspected that some boy might try to spike the punch, and she told the chaperone to keep a lookout. She was right; same deal here. Watch out that no narrow interest tries to rig the meeting or the system unfairly in favor of its company or its narrow interest; like a spiked punch at a junior high party, it can only lead to trouble (and don’t let anybody do the minutes on company stationery; it makes it look, like their company in “in charge”, which is probably unfair).

8. Appearances Count. Your Momma knew that if you slipped off to the woods from the party, people would assume the worst, even if you only held hands. She was right. Pay attention to how things might look to somebody else. Some people always assume the worst, and start a bunch of gossip. Don’t be grist for the gossip; make sure you behave and look like you are behaving. For instance, don’t sit over in the corner whispering with your competitors, even about football or movies. (At this point in your life, it won’t be a gossip who will spread the scandal; it will be some lawyer trying to make you look bad to a jury, so he can personally make a lot of money, Strike a blow for liberty; behave and look like you behave and keep all the lawyers pool)

9. lf The Party Turns Wild, Leave. Your Momma told you to leave if it got wild. She was right. If the other people at your meeting start talking about or doing bad stuff, get up and walk out. (It may be unpleasant then, but it beats going to jail or getting sued.)

10. Call Your Momma if You’re Not Sure. Your Momma gave you a dime (or a quarter or a nickel, depending on how old you are) to call her if you needed advice or help. She ‘as right; same deal here. If you can’t get your Momma, call your lawyer!

David A. Bagwell is an attorney and can be reached at: P.O. Box 2126, Fairhope, AL, 36533 Suite 2E, 251-928-7766, david@bagwelIesq.com, www.bagwellesq.com.

 

Association Educational Engagement Case Study

The Situation

Each year, The North American Menopause Society (NAMS) gathers the leading healthcare providers, researchers, educators, and academicians from both across the country and internationally for its annual medical meeting and trade show. The event brings these professionals together to discuss perceptions, share new research and findings, and discuss ways to spread awareness of midlife women’s health issues and how to best serve women.

Since the event was first held more than two decades ago, it has grown from 100 to almost 1,500 attendees. As a highly reputable organization of healthcare professionals, NAMS strives to achieve balance in the event’s content between modern technology and traditional education.

Throughout the five-year solid working relationship with NAMS, AV Concepts has understood the importance of presenting content in an engaging way, but without overshadowing the seriousness of the topic and the event’s educational focus. They have partnered with the team to integrate technological components that worked with and improved the educational aspects, including a webcast component so that those who couldn’t attend the live event could view content after the meeting.  

The Challenge

While technology is continuously evolving in the medical field, the adaptation of new ways to share information isn’t quite as fast. In addition to providing a modern experience, it was important to maintain a middle ground and emphasize the event’s content in a way that was not ostentatious, but still engaged the audience with information on the many aspects of midlife women’s health issues.

With an abundant amount of material to cover during each presentation, maintaining brevity, while providing the pertinent information was essential for a successful event. Many presenters have devoted decades to researching and gathering their findings, and traveled internationally to attend this conference. However, presenters are provided with a limited time to share their discoveries with the audience, so staying on track and establishing a flow was essential as presentations take place back-to-back.

The Solution

After several years in a successful partnership with NAMS, the AV Concepts team understood how to execute the type of educational and content-focused event that the client requested, while providing strategic recommendations for how to present the content in a straightforward and engaging way. The combination of technical drawings, content that was scaled and sized for easy reading, proper lighting, and dynamic sound and staging, created a smooth and well-timed execution essential for the presentations to be successful.

With so much content and a limited amount of time for each presenter to connect with the audience and share their findings, the AV Concepts team stayed two steps ahead of each presentation, making sure that visuals and audio were prepared and scaled correctly for smooth and quick transitions.

To accomplish this, each of the presentations and other content was uploaded and previewed via the AV Concepts Presentation Management Server. Content was then pushed to the general session show computers using a V-lan connection, and routed to the video switcher and screens flawlessly for each presenter. In the short time that one presenter transitioned to the next, the content was ready.

In addition to the live presentations, the webcast also needed to have the same consistency and easy transition. With the management of the content being the focus on every level of the AV Concepts team, a partner assisted with the webcast so that AV Concepts could focus on producing the content and managing the presentations, which could then transition into a glitch-free, clear and concise webcast.

The Results

The NAMS annual meeting was a well-executed event for a highly reputable gathering of medical professionals. For the fifth year in a row, AV Concepts provided an all-inclusive solution that simultaneously captured both live and online audiences for a high-quality educational experience that maintained the integrity of the medical issues. Managing all aspects of audio, video, content, and designating the webcast to a partner, AV Concepts provided presenters and attendees with an engaging educational experience.

After coordinating this event for nearly 25 years, meeting planner Wanda Kovacs of Experient notes, “I’ve continued to work with AV Concepts on this event for the past five years because of the people. My confidence in the team and their track record of providing impeccable customer service assures me that the show will be a success, and it continues to be.”

Furthermore, the committee of healthcare providers who planned this conference was pleased with how AV Concepts embraced technology to bring dozens of presentations to life in a way that complemented the serious subject matter, while  providing high-quality sound and visuals to engage the audience. The committee was pleased that AV Concepts provided value as a solution, while also bringing new ideas to an established event.

AV Concepts was founded in 1987 by two industry veterans, Fred Mandrick and Nick Smith, with the core belief that providing each client with exceptional service and superior value would produce highly satisfied clients and long-term relationships.

How Associations Can Leverage the Power of Content and Social Media to Build Audience and Attract Members – Part 2

by Corey Post

In part one of this article, we discussed the importance of content in your recruitment efforts.  We reviewed understanding your audience through personas, constructing an editorial calendar, creating your content, managing your resources and team as well utilizing your blog as your content base.

In this installment, you’ll learn about scaling your content creation, promoting it with social media, and applying success metrics to your efforts.

Repurpose Your Content

Content takes time and energy to produce.  So when you create a piece of content that you’re happy with, or more importantly, that your readers like, you want to maximize it.  One way to do so is through repurposing.  Repurposing is breaking your content up into different forms for different channels.  For example, you might transcribe a video and use it in an article, make a slideshow out of a presentation and place it on SlideShare, or take your top performing articles and create an eBook for your readers.

Essentially, repurposing content allows you to reach more eyeballs and helps you underwrite the cost of production across multiple iterations of creation.

Social Media Platforms

Social media is an incredibly effective channel through which to develop an audience, talk with your members and reach new prospects.  Advertising notwithstanding, it’s inexpensive – accounts are generally free – and offers massive potential for reach.

There are myriad social media platforms from which to choose.  And while it’s tempting to try to use as many as possible, it’s often good to start with a limited number – three or four – and learn how to maximize those particular products.

As an association, you want to be able to reach large groups of interested prospects, often in the business-to-business arena. So consider Facebook, with its unparalleled reach, LinkedIn with its business focus, and Twitter, which has a fantastic viral component baked into it.  Another useful platform is YouTube, which, believe it or not, is the world’s second largest search engine (actually not surprising since it’s owned by the world’s largest search engine, Google).

Use of each platform merits its own post, so we won’t go into depth here, but the two common threads among all platforms are content and connections.  Your content will facilitate connections and your connections will help to share your content.  You’ll use the content from your editorial calendar, blog, and “repurposing activities” to populate your social channels.

So you could, for example, use Facebook and LinkedIn status updates to push out events and summaries of blog posts.  You can also perform similar activities on Twitter, but you’re limited, of course, by its 140 characters per tweet.  With YouTube, create your own channel and consider filming events that you or a sponsor hold.  Another strategy is to interview association members and thought leaders in your community.  Or take a PowerPoint and narrate it while you film.  Video doesn’t have to be expensive.  You can leverage YouTube and deliver value with few resources.

Building a fan/follower base takes time.  But to start, make sure you feature your social profiles on your website/blog, in your newsletter, and in your email signature.  Join industry forums, dive into the discussion and, when applicable, offer helpful links back to content that you pushed to social media.  You might also consider emailing your members to tell them about your social profiles or posts that you think they should know about and give them the opportunity to get involved through guest posts, comments, polls and general feedback.

Success Metrics

Every activity has an opportunity cost.  Content and social media is no exception.  So you want to ensure that your content marketing activities have a positive ROI, which can be calculated through KPIs that you define.  You might consider pageviews on your website or blog, “likes” on Facebook, links to your site, press mentions, blog comments, and, of course, new members.

Use your analytics program if you’re particularly interested in KPIs around pageviews and traffic.  I like to use Google Analytics because it’s robust, free and easy to install.  However, the data can be overwhelming at first, with information ranging from geography to bounce rate. 

Make sure you track all your data relative to your content in both your editorial calendar and any separate spreadsheet that you find helpful.  After several months, you’ll be able to discern patterns on your content and social activity.  You’ll learn what works and what doesn’t work.  Of course, you’ll expand on activities that work and stop, or pivot, on activities that don’t work.

 A Historic Opportunity

Content and social media are powerful tools that you can use to communicate and create value, develop audience, and attract members.  Remember to plan first using personas, an editorial calendar, and resource allocation.  Make sure you maximize your content and reach with repurposing and social distribution. And track and measure through KPIs.  Once you find areas of opportunity, go deep and build on them.

At the risk of sounding like a web cheerleader, I believe you have an opportunity unmatched in history to build authority for your association and in your particular industry.  All you have to do is get started.

About Corey Post

Corey Post, a sought after digital industry speaker and writer, has over a decade of experience helping organizations build membership through social media, content marketing and SEO.  He’s the founder of content strategy agency, Agile Leverage.  Contact Corey to provide digital marketing education to your association members through webinars and speaking engagements. 

 

How Associations Can Leverage the Power of Content and Social Media to Build Audience and Attract Members – Part 1

by Corey Post

Associations create value for their members in myriad ways, from education to networking.  And content marketing, coupled with the massive audience and low cost distribution of social media, offers a historically unparalleled method for associations to communicate and magnify this value.

Below is a general overview of how associations can begin to unlock the power of content and social media to both serve existing members and recruit new ones. 

Know Your Audience Through Personas

 In an increasingly noisy world, the creation of useful, audience relevant content will give your association the opportunity to build authority in the social sphere.  And through that authority, attract fans, followers and members.

I start my content creation efforts with the construction of personas – essentially representations of buyers – or in the case of associations, members.  A major goal of persona creation is to understand your customers so that you can generate valuable solutions and craft messaging that resonates with them.  Personas are developed using data and, to a certain extent, data informed suppositions.  As a result, persona creation is both art and science.

Essentially, you’re looking to generate a reasonably robust profile of a “representative” member, from education and position to demographics and work objectives.  Fortunately, as an association, you probably have a lot of useful data that you can mine, from your membership database to your web analytics. You might also perform online surveys and in person interviews.

Well-developed personas can help you understand both members and potential members.  However, they can be difficult to construct.  If you’d like some help getting started, contact me and I’ll walk you through the steps of building your personas.

Editorial Calendar

Think of your editorial calendar as your map, or guide, to content creation.  Basically, your editorial calendar will help you and your team envision the content creation process, stay organized, and marshal your resources as you build and distribute your content library.

At a minimum, you should have a calendar that will contain both “macro” and “micro” items.  Macro items could include upcoming events such as membership drives, holidays, and activities related to your industry as a whole.  You’ll use these entries to look ahead and prepare for individual calendar months in advance.  Conversely, the “micro” items will include lists of content ideas or titles, the content format such as video or blog post, the author, the editor, the release date and promotional activities.

You’ll also want to allow for content status, such as if an article is in production, in editing, ready for release, or published. 

Finally, it’s a good idea to track results of your individual content efforts.  You’d want to answer questions such as:

“Did the video on our legislation initiative get 30 views or 500?”

“Did our infographic on membership benefits receive 100 pageviews or 1,000?”

You’d attach these key performance indicators (KPIs) to your goals for a content piece so you can determine payback on your efforts.

Content Creation

 Personas and editorial calendars will help you organize and create targeted content.  Once you have a strategy, you can begin to develop initial content ideas.  You can start by answering the question, “What subject matters and topics are important to my audience?”

There are several tools you can use to help you ideate.  To begin, use your web analytics.  Look at what pages people are viewing on your site.  Examine bounce rate and the amount of time spent on a page.  Look for articles that generate a lot of feedback and comments.  The pages with the most reader consumption and engagement are often on topics that your audience finds of interest.  Take these topics and expand on them with related stories.  You can also run surveys and ask your readers what they want to learn about.

Other tools that you might consider are Quora.com, Google Trends and Google Suggest.  Quora will help you find questions…and answers…that are popular around a specific topic.  Google Trends will tell you about the popularity of keywords and terms.  And Google Suggest (which you’ve probably seen when Google tries to complete your search queries as you type them into the search box) will provide insight into information demand.

Essentially, data for content creation is everywhere.  You can find seeds for ideas and customize them for your members and prospective members using your personas.

Your Marketing Team and Resources

Association staffs have immense variability in size.  So the content resource budget and staff for a one-person association will most likely drastically differ from that of a 20-person association.  Regardless of your resources, when planning for content creation and distribution, you need to determine:

1) Who will prepare (write, edit, shoot, design) your content

2) Who will promote your content via blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.

3) How much you can afford, financially, to invest in production like video equipment, outside designers, software, etc.

Fortunately, knowledge and passion are often more important than gross resources.  So consider all your stakeholders.  Is there an event planner, intern, or volunteer who loves your industry, writes well, and wants to get more involved?  Reach out to people that both want to and can contribute.  As an association, you have access to a lot of talent – from speakers to veteran practitioners – that can allow you to scale your content program.

Your Blog – The Center of Your Content and Social Media Operation

Your editorial calendar and content ideas will feed your blog, which is analogous to the “heart” of your operation as most of your content efforts will flow from it through the social media platforms.  For example, if you were to announce a membership drive, you’d write about it on your blog and push snippets of that write-up to your Facebook page and Twitter account.

Before you set up your blog, you need to choose a blogging platform.  While there are a variety to consider, I like WordPress.  It’s free and you can host it on your own server.  Further, it offers a virtually unlimited number of design and functionality customizations through themes and plugins.  For example, plugins will give you the power to easily promote your content on all the major social media platforms so that you and your readers will be able to share your content with respective fans and followers.  In addition, you’ll be able to increase engagement through polls, surveys, and comments. Finally, WordPress will help you organize your content and make it more discoverable through its innate system of tags and categories.

Whichever blog platform you choose, think of your blog as the command center for content and social media.  Place your stories, videos, images, and events on your blog, which you own, and use it to populate your social outlets, which will drive readers back to you blog.

In part 2 of this article, which we’ll post next week, I’ll show you how to scale and promote your content.

Corey Post, a sought after digital industry speaker and writer, has over a decade of experience helping organizations build membership through social media, content marketing and SEO.  He’s the founder of content marketing and branding firm, Agile Leverage.  Contact Corey to provide digital marketing education to your association members through webinars and speaking engagements.