Social Media for Member Engagement: 3 Questions You Need to Ask
Raise your hand if you remember when the only social media channels that were relevant and mattered were Facebook and Twitter? I don't know about any of you, but back then, I certainly couldn't picture it being anything more than a way to document my life and to stay in touch with my friends and sometimes nosey family.
It's crazy to see how social media has morphed into something that organizations leverage as a business tool. It is constantly evolving, and there always seems to be a new platform that you feel tempted into joining. Understandably, it can get a little overwhelming having to decide which one(s) your association should be active on! Aside from the mainstream platforms—Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (the list goes on)—there is a growing set of social media networks—many of which might be ideal places to find new members, engage with your current members on a deeper level, and even establish your organization as a thought leader in the industry.
Here are three questions to ask if this is the right social media channel for your association to use.
Who is your member base?
Has your association created member personas? Understanding who your current members are can help you identify the people you want to recruit to your association. As mainstream platforms are becoming more cluttered and inundated with all types of content and wide-range of people, users are flocking to more targeted social networks. How targeted do you ask? Well you'd be surprised to know that there is something for just about every interest out there! No really. For example, if you're a wine connoisseur, there's a platform out there for you called Snooth. Because WINE not? There's a niche social network for basically any group you can think of, and if you find your target audience in there—that's a match made in heaven.
Most of these niche sites will be way off track for associations (unless you need to target a demographic such as zombie apocalypse planners or knitting enthusiasts), but even scoring one or two that are highly relevant to your industry or cause can mean serious membership potential. Or, you can find a cross-fit in there somewhere that can be beneficial. For example, maybe your target demographic is IT managers. A site about sustainable practices is a good way to connect on your mutual interests, such as greener alternatives to traditional hardware components.
With that being said, I'm not saying you should write off the mainstream channels either. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are here to stay and chances are your member personas and current members will be active on these. Don't be afraid to research niche ones though. You might find an all new member-base you hadn't considered!
What Kinds of Content Do Your Members Consume the Most?
Though the demographics of the social network is the most critical factor, you also need to consider how content gets shared and consumed on the site. If it is vastly different from your current association marketing strategies, it could add quite a bit more work for your marketing team just to churn out additional types of content. For example, some channels specialize in high-quality photographs or video content. If these aren't part of your ordinary content generation, it could mean adding additional staff or contracting with some photographers and videographers to produce the quality of content that attracts this particular group of users.
Also, different social networks use different techniques for handling content. Some push content to the top of users' feeds when that content has been shared a lot. Others prioritize according to the time the content was posted. Understand how your content will be viewed and shared before choosing a new social network or trying to leverage it to build a name for your association.
How Does This Platform Help You Meet Your Goals?
Can you define how this network helps you meet your association's goals? One can argue that unless a particular social network can deliver a meaningful ROI, why bother? However, if you're already blogging regularly or you develop and post content via other mediums, such as videos to a YouTube channel or articles to your website—then adding a social network, or even a few social networks, to your marketing endeavors will probably be fast and easy. Just do a cost-benefit analysis if adopting a new social network means taking on lots of additional content development. You can use these same determining factors to decide if the mainstream social sites are worth your while. There is no law that says you have to spend 18 hours per week on Facebook and Twitter to run an association.
You don't need to feel compelled or pressured to be active on every single platform out there. That's not effective use of your association staff's time and money, and you'll only spread yourselves thin in the end. Know your membership and focus on the channels where they are most active and where you can attract the attention of future members. And don't be afraid to explore niche platforms if they make sense for your association to be active in.
Are you looking for more ways to attract more members, boost member engagement, and deliver more value for your membership dues? Download our eBook to find out more!
About Chandra Chakravarthi
As a Coordinator of Content, Branding, & Buzz at Aptify, Chandra supports the department with content creation, digital advertising, and overseeing the social media channels. Outside of Aptify, you can find her exploring Chicago and eating too much pizza while she waits for her letter from Hogwarts.