Help Your Organization Leverage the Power of Twitter

by DJ MullerMuller Headshot

#worldcup2014.  #ipad . #followback.  #android.  These are just four of the topics trending on Wednesday, June 18, 2014 at 8:06pm.  The amazing thing is, these so-called trends are subject to change at any given moment.

Welcome to the world of Twitter, populated with 230 million active users who send more than 500 million tweets per day.  Although its dynamic nature can be somewhat intimidating, Twitter is a cost effective tool that gives organizations of all types and sizes a way to promote their brand, connect and engage their target audience and truly create a unique customer experience.   This is precisely why the social platform should be integrated into your marketing communications plan if you have not done so already.

Too often small organizations create Twitter accounts just to leave them sitting idle – failing to leverage its innate power to communicate and interact with their niche audiences.  The good news is, with a few simple steps, you can ensure that you are on the right track to implementing a Twitter strategy that drives results.

  1. Complete your profile and maximize your presence.

First and foremost, you must complete your profile with information that will help others easily find and identify your organization upon a search.  Make sure to choose a Twitter handle that is simple, easy to spell and does not include an abundance of special characters.  Ideally, your Twitter handle should be the name of your organization as that is the name that the public directly associates with you and will ensure that your account is easy to find.

In addition to choosing a Twitter handle, choose profile and header images that represent your organization and positively reflect the industry in which you serve.  Also, make sure your bio communicates your organization’s specific purpose, includes your location and has a direct URL to your website.

  1. Design and implement an insightful strategy that drives results.

With your profile complete, it’s time to design and implement a strategy that drives results. Although this may seem like a rather large task to tackle, if you break the process down into smaller steps it will be a much more manageable.

  • Define your purpose and set goals. Before you even begin to think about designing a strategy, you must know what you are trying to accomplish. Do you want to generate awareness for your organization?  Are you trying to generate leads for new membership sales? Do you want to increase member engagement?

No matter what your primary intention may be, make sure it is clearly established and set goals that will ensure that you are working to fulfill that purpose.  For example, if you are seeking to generate audience engagement, you should set goals for the number of mentions, retweets and favorites that you receive on a monthly basis.

  • Build your network.  Building a network is essential to setting up a successful strategy.  More is not always better. Although it seems as though the more people you follow, greater awareness will be raised, this is by no means the best way to attract the type of audience that you want and need to fulfill your purpose.

Start by following customers, clients, vendors, business partners, local businesses and other organizations in your industry. Additionally, take the time to identify and connect with industry thought leaders and experts. These types of connections will help create relevant content for your target audience, as well as provide engaging material to share with your followers.  To discover your industry influencers, check out Topsy, a popular social tool that allows Twitter users to analyze the social web based on specific search terms.

  • Know the platform. If you want your strategy to be successful, you have to do a little bit a research.  Twitter is not rocket science, but in order to attract and engage effectively, it is imperative that you know exactly how to interact.

In a nutshell, there are five different types of interactions on Twitter (see chart below). You should familiarize yourself with each and incorporate them into your strategy.

The Tweet.  A message that a Twitter use originates and may not exceed 140 characters in length.
The Retweet (RT).  A re-posting of another user’s tweet that appears on your Twitter timeline.
The @reply.  A public update that contains your response and the hyperlinked username of the person whom you are replying.
The Direct Message.  A private message you can send to your followers.
The Mention.  Any tweet containing a username within the tweet, including the @reply.

Beyond these interactions, you must master the art of the hashtag (#). By using a hashtag in front of a word, or phrase, you can potentially reach any Twitter user that is monitoring that specific hashtag. You can use your Twitter sidebar, or tools such as Google Alerts, Social Mention, Radian6, Trackur and Twitter’s search tool, to identify trending and relevant hashtags that will help you to connect with your defined target audience as well as industry influencers. As a general rule of thumb, never use more than two hashtags per tweet.

  • Develop quality content. Creating engaging content for your followers on Twitter can be a challenge as you only have 140 characters to attract and capture their attention. With this in mind, keep your tweets interesting by asking questions, leading with numbers and statistics, use images, videos and links, and promote your events. Most importantly, ,take the time to reply to those who mention you.   
  1. Add Twitter to your current marketing plan. Adding Twitter to your current marketing efforts will help  drive other users to your profile.  You should add a Twitter button to your website, or even embed a live feed., Promote your organization’s events, hosts contests and link to your other social accounts, such as Instagram.
  1. Measure your results and adjust accordingly.  As you employ your strategy, you need to make sure to measure your performance over time. This will ensure that you are reaching your goals and will give you insights into improving your strategy to better accomplish your purpose. Luckily, tools including Klout, Twitter Analytics, Demographics Pro, Sprout Social and Hootsuite, make managing your account easy and will help you to efficiently measure your reach and influence.  Explore the different features of each tool and choose one that best suits your needs.

As I mentioned above, Twitter is not rocket science. Therefore, have fun with it and don’t be afraid to adjust and experiment.  For example, try tweeting during different times of the day in order to determine when your audience is most active.

Following these simple steps will help you to leverage the immense power of Twitter.  Optimize your account, execute an insightful strategy, integrate your account with existing marketing, measure and monitor your results, be creative and, most importantly, and have fun!

For more Twitter tips and tricks, download WebLink’s free eBook 4 Simple Steps to Help Your Organization Tackle Twitter.

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.

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 

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.

September Technology Round Table Update

Knights of the Round Table

On behalf of AENC, I was very pleased to facilitate the Sept 19th Technology Round Table and I thank our fellow Knights for rolling up their sleeves and diving into the issues.

Knights of the Round TableThe “Knights” in attendance participated in true Round Table fashion discussing what was most important to them when it comes to Technology and how they would like to use it to deliver more value to their members.

Helping me in the meeting were 2 special guests.  Tobi Bowen of Instinctive Branding provided some great insights into the mysteries of social media, marketing and generations and Eyal Novotny, with us courtesy of AVAYA, shared his expertise in using video and video conferencing to communicate within your organizations and with your members.

Technological Challenges

During the discussion, it because clear that technology issues are, and should, be driven by our mission and objectives.  Specifically, we identified these as the most pressing concerns:

  • A Communication Plan
  • Delivering Member Value
  • Member, Board and Organizational Engagement
  • Collaboration Tools
  • Generational Issues
  • Social Media Platforms
  • Nuts-n-Bolts Training

One ah-ha moment came when I asked how many people had Communication Plans in place that addressed the issues that were coming up in our discussion. We are all told we need a communication plan but it’s difficult to integrate the messaging, marketing and technological issues involved into a cohesive plan.  Especially when technology is such a moving target.

Data Driven and Member Focused

One thing, though, is clear, using the “Mud on the Wall” approach to technology or just jumping on the latest new techie thing does not an effective technology or communications strategy maketh.

Among the “7 Measures of Success” is that every remarkable association must adopt a Data-Driven and Member Focused approach.  This implies using the right technology to deliver the right message to the right people – with measured results.  Technology is not a goal in and of itself.  Yes, you have a facebook or twitter page…so what?  Whether it’s your board, committees, staff or members, it’s all about delivering value in a measurable way.  And higher perceived member value means higher satisfaction and greater retention.

AENC will continue to provide you with more in-depth support on these technology issues so you can bring the highest value to your members without having to become technology experts yourself.

So, come and sit down with your fellow Knights at the next technology round table and lets slay this technology dragon together!

Author Bio

Robert GeigerRobert Geiger is a management and marketing consultant who helps organizations conduct effective strategic planning and organizational optimization so you maximize results without all the usual stress and uncertainty. Robert contributes to the AENC blog and writes the “Measure Twice, Cut Once” column in Success by Association magazine. Connect with Robert on Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/robertgeigernc

Do You Have an Online Strategy for Growing Membership?

Perhaps you’re thinking your association needs a stronger online presence. You see the potential, but maybe you’re confused as to what growing a presence exactly means.

The number of ways you can communicate with your audience can be overwhelming. Understanding a few fundamentals can help you get prepared and move forward.

“Liking” you is not enough

“If you build it, they will come” only worked in the movie. Just setting up a Twitter account or Facebook group page as standalone presences is a regressive strategy. If your association isn’t communicating its key messages, you won’t generate a following. Worse, owning these profiles with no activity or followers just looks bad and delivers the wrong message, as well.

Actively communicate your messages

The first mistake in messaging is trying to tell everything, to everyone, all the time. As an association, you know who your members are, and you know how your work benefits people on a broad scale. But like any marketing strategy, it’s not only critical to identify specific audiences, but also to deliver specific messages on how your work is directly addresses their needs.

Identify your target goals and encourage participation

Establish a timeline around key dates and planned announcements. Be sure to include locally planned events. By using your online platforms to deliver your messages, you’re encouraging participation through “re-tweets” and other forms of sharing. Invite your members to be part of the process – it gets them engaged as active stewards of your organization’s brand and mission.

Any successful online strategy is about building a presence that rewards you with more than your “15 minutes.” Crafted carefully, it will help you earn a deep, living leadership role in today’s marketplace.

Special thanks to Guest Blogger – Evan T. Howell, an independent public relations practitioner based in Durham, N.C. http://evanthowell.com