Part of running a successful association is developing a strong engagement strategy to keep members active and informed. Nonprofits can use association management software to coordinate their outreach efforts and derive insights about trends in constituent activity. With the popularity of mobile devices and social media networks, social channels can be important platforms for engagement.
Social media success begins with a plan
Online platforms can be powerful interaction tools, but associations need to make sure they’re using their resources effectively. Therefore, developing a social media plan as part of a wider Web strategy is crucial for organizations that want to make the most of their outreach initiatives, explained Marketing Profs contributor Elaine Fogel, president and CMO of Solutions Marketing & Consulting LLC. In other words, optimal association management involves tailoring the use of online resources to meet the needs and objectives of both company stakeholders and constituents. The trick is identifying these needs and the efforts that are most successful.
According to Fogel, engagement must be a two-way street. While broadcasting organizational information on social media platforms can be an important outreach strategy, it’s not enough. Tricia Morris of Parature wrote for Business 2 Community that social customer service is quickly becoming the norm: People expect to be able to find the type of information they need on social platforms and receive timely responses to their inquiries and comments.
Insights from social media data
Social media content will be more successful if it addresses the needs and interests of constituents. Fogel emphasized the importance of identifying what members want as far as engagement opportunities and what sort of information interests them. Data from social media interactions and other information stored in membership management systems can be used to discover the optimal content and strategies. By consolidating information from social media activity with other association data, organizations can develop a comprehensive view of their members, Morris suggested.
Charity Digital News described how charity professionals are analyzing data to discover trends in engagement, such as which platforms are used most frequently by certain demographics. At the 22nd Charities and Associations Event, a representative from Humanity First explained how the charity uses social media for outreach, fundraising, collaboration and strategizing, the news source reported. Instead of just broadcasting news or advertisements about events, Humanity First created a social intranet for constituents to meet and interact online, the source added. This strategy demonstrates the type of engagement platform that Fogel advocated: Outreach efforts should be conversation starters, she said.