Last week I was one of the keynote speakers at Association Trends’ TRENDS Live breakfast event on Association Social Media Top Performance and Best Practices. I talked about current trends in association social media use and the platforms and practices associations are currently using (Facebook is the biggest according to both Association Trends’ Association Social Media Report and Kellen’s Social Media Impact Study for Associations) as well as platforms I think associations should be paying particular attention to. Here is my presentation
Since those are just images (Slide:ology training is still in full effect) here are the higlights of what I covered for each platform
- Facebook continues to be the most popular network for associations, despite decrease in organic reach. To me this means don’t just blindly use Facebook; pay particular attention to whether Facebook is helping drive results and, if not, re-evaluate.
- Anecdotes I’ve heard from large brand social media managers point to decrease in effectiveness, despite paid promos. Again–track how it’s performing for your association and continually evaluate effectiveness in relation to time/resources/money spent.
- Has become “old person” platform—may not be great for reaching younger members–contrary to the thinking in the association world a few years ago that Facebook was the way to reach younger members/potential members; today’s demographic might align better with existing members of many associations.
- Some associations are still having great success with Facebook—but only with visuals and video. Even for associations for whom Facebook has been really effective, it’s now requiring a lot more investment in terms of staff time/graphic resources to maintain effectiveness and drive results.
- Be prepared to pay to play and evaluate if it’s worth investment. The days of Facebook being a slam-dunk are long over; be prepared to invest a lot of time and at least some money if you want to reach even your own “fans.”
- In the world of social media these days, images are king and Instagram continues to grow in popularity, even though associations are slower to adopt.
- Best fit for associations seems to be around events, promoting content that can be conveyed visually.
- Anecdotally Instagram is replacing Twitter as that platform becomes more and more crowded. This is a conversation I’ve had with several people both from just a personal use standpoint and also professionally. Twitter is so crowded and increasingly full of promoted posts; many die-hards are just skipping it entirely or turning to Instagram for the kinds of interactions they used to have on Twitter.
- Recently added a desktop search feature; even if your association isn’t currently using Instagram, you can at least use this new feature to search your event hashtags and other relevant tags to start getting a feel for whether or not it may be worth investing time/resources.
- For associations for whom Pinterest is a good fit, it’s very effective at driving traffic and engagement.
- Continuing to grow in popularity–definitely worth looking into to see if it’s a fit for your organization. Especially now with the ability to promote content, there could be opportunities to promote your associations educational content and products.
- Industries/professions for whom Pinterest is a particularly good fit are teaching, therapy, architecture, gardening/landscape, retail, parenting…and some you might not think would be a good fit such as nursing and other medical fields. I’ve seen a ton of study resource boards used by students in various medical fields and think there’s huge opportunity there for the related associations.
- Want to see if people are pinning your association’s content? Type “Pinterest.com/source/[your org’s url]” and you’ll be able to see. (e.g. Pinterest.com/source/sfpe.org). Then do some searches for relevant terms for your org and search by both board and pinner. And/or try a promoted pin for a product or specific resource–they offer some pretty good targeting options and I had good results with the one experimental promoted pin I tried.
- Still emerging but should at least be on your radar.
- Represents good opportunity to increase reach of your events, promote awareness.
- Potential pitfalls are attendees sharing content, control mentality if associations attempt to proactively address. I wrote about this issue last month–definitely some considerations for both using Periscope and thinking ahead to how your attendees might use it (or are already using it).
- It’s great to see more associations using social media, and encouraging to see that the conversation has moved beyond the old “social media is just a fad” and “Why should I care what someone is having for lunch?” questions that were what I dealt with back in the day.
- What works for one might not work for another–just because Facebook is the most widely-used platform reported by associations doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the best or even worth investing time and resources into today.
- Set goals, evaluate effectiveness of platforms, pick what works best for your org. And keep measuring and evaluating, as the playing field is constantly changing. Whether you have full-time staff devoted to social media or even part of people’s time, don’t forget that education and staying up-to-date on what’s happening now and what’s emerging in terms of trends and platforms is a big part of ongoing social media success.