Social Media Strategy for Associations

A good social media strategy is worth its weight in gold. Approximately 72% of all Americans are on some form of social media and, of those users, up to three-quarters log on at least once a day. Many of these regular users are your members and potential members, out there connecting with colleagues and posting about professional topics of interest.

When your association becomes a participant and even an instigator of those conversations, you automatically increase member engagement and draw new members into your fold. But how do you craft a social media strategy that will get you there?

Strategizing Your Content

Engagement happens when you share content that your audiences find interesting, thought-provoking, and helpful. Figuring out what that content is can be difficult, so social media experts have come up with a guideline called the rule of thirds. It’s become an overall best practice for social media marketing, and it’s just as useful in a social media strategy for associations.

It suggests that all of your content should be evenly distributed across three categories: 

  • One-third promotion of what you offer to members (benefits, events, community engagement, etc.)
  • One-third direct interaction with your professional community: posting and commenting on member pages, replying to member comments, sharing member events, and so on
  • One-third sharing of industry updates and other informative content that offers value to your community

That way, you’re not just posting when you want something from people. You can still post when you have a big event coming up or when you release a new professional development course, for example, but avoid using social media only as an announcement board.

Remember, social media is about conversations. Encourage those conversations by posting an exciting piece of industry news and asking for commentary.  Like and share your members’ posts, especially if they’ve posted content that would be of interest to your broader community.

Choosing the Right Platforms

Any social media site can help you to promote your content, but your budget isn’t unlimited, nor is your time. You’ll need to strategize. That means finding out what platforms your members are frequenting and what will engage them most on each one.

Facebook

Facebook has the highest net daily use of any social media platform. Around 75% of all Americans with a college education and an income of at least $30,000 a year use Facebook, and its adoption among working-age adults is huge. The platform has:

  • 76% of all 18 to 24-year-olds
  • 84% of all 25 to 30-year-olds
  • 79% of all 30 to 49-year-olds
  • 68% of all 50 to 64-year-olds

Even in the 65+ age group, which has the lowest rate of adoption, the percentage is a respectable 46%. This is the highest adoption rate for older adults of any social media platform out there, so if you have a large cohort of older members, you need to be on Facebook.

Understanding Facebook’s Algorithm

Facebook is a great platform for encouraging conversations. It’s extremely versatile in terms of content type, making space for everything from long-term articles to reader polls. Your first step should be to try out many different types of posts — images, videos, links — and find out what gets the most engagement. Then, make more of that, because Facebook focuses primarily on giving users what they like.

Facebook’s algorithm looks at three main ranking signals:

  • What accounts a user interacts with
  • The type of media a user likes (video, images, links, etc.)
  • The popularity of the post itself

By that logic, the more followers you have actively engaged with your brand, the better. Your most engaged followers will be more likely to see your posts, so make sure that you include a call-to-action asking people to comment and share.

Ranking for Video on Facebook

In the spring of 2019, Facebook announced the introduction of an algorithm update designed to prioritize high-quality, original videos. The update increased the weight of three factors in particular:

  • Loyalty and intent: videos that people seek out and return to regularly
  • Length and viewing duration: videos that people watch for at least one minute, particularly if the video is at least three minutes long
  • Originality: videos that aren’t repurposed or taken from other sources

Focus on posting videos that fulfill all three of these requirements and add Facebook Live videos if at all possible. Live videos get six times more interactions than recorded videos, and they’re easy to make. That means you can create a balance between professionally recorded videos, shorter clips, and Facebook Live videos. Facebook Live, designed for immediacy and connection, is a great way to share updates from your association’s CEO or greetings to members from a special event.

Instagram

Instagram is a rising star in the social media world, especially among younger users. It gets engagement from 75% of 18- to 24-year-olds and 57% of 25 to 30-year-olds, two important cohorts for any association that’s planning for long-term viability. Instagram is the ideal place for you to promote the benefits of student and new professional memberships, and it’s a dynamic platform for sharing your photos and videos.

Strategizing for Instagram

Instagram doesn’t do long-form content well — it’s difficult to include a link, and it’s not designed for text-heavy posts — but it’s perfect for visual content. Plan on posting all of your digital fliers and event photos to Instagram, then get creative. Take a quote from an industry expert and make a quote picture

Instagram focuses primarily on images, but it also supports many ways of using videos. There are stories, live videos, and the long-form video platform IGTV, which may be Instagram’s best-kept secret. It’s worth taking the time to find those video marketing opportunities. They can go a long way toward improving your engagement with followers.

Using Video on Instagram

You can post Instagram videos as part of your Stories, on your regular news feed, or as part of your IGTV channel. 

Instagram stories get attention from 500 million people a day, according to Hootsuite research. They’re short and sweet — 15 seconds or less, and they’re only on your feed for 24 hours unless you specifically add them to your Highlights collection. It’s a great way to say hello to your audience or announce something special, like an upcoming event or discount for an event registration. 

Videos that are between 15 and 60 seconds long can go on your news feed. Think of sound bites from a recent keynote speech or footage from a recent event. You can share these videos organically or invest in paid ads. The difference is that Instagram will show your paid ads to users who don’t follow you yet.

Videos that are longer than a minute and up to 60 minutes can go on Instagram Live, which has become popular lately as a platform for virtual classes, performances, and short events. Like Facebook Live, these videos stream in real-time and disappear after 24 hours. 

If you want to post a longer recording that will be accessible for more than 24 hours, you can post it to your IGTV channel. Once it’s posted, Instagram will show a 60-second preview to your audiences. When the preview is over, audiences can hit Keep Watching to see the rest on IGTV. The IGTV video will play full-screen, making it about as immersive as you can get with social media video. 

Instagram’s video opportunities are so varied and versatile, there’s a place for almost every kind of video you have to share.

Twitter

Twitter doesn’t have the broad adoption of Instagram or Facebook, especially in the US, but it does have 44% of 18- to 24-year-olds, so it’s another place you can talk to your student and young professional members. 

Twitter is also an important platform for associations with international members. Of the platform’s 330 million total monthly users, 262 million are located outside of the US. It’s a great way to stay in touch to share relevant news content, such as the passing of an important piece of legislation. 

Twitter is also a popular way for associations to stay in touch during a large-scale conference or event. Whether the conference is virtual or in-person, the association and its members can use hashtags to live-tweet quotes from keynotes, seminars, and roundtables. By making live-tweeting a participatory component of your conference, you can make the event even more interactive and broaden its reach.

Adding Video to Your Tweets

Like Instagram, Twitter isn’t explicitly a video platform, but videos go a long way toward expanding your reach. According to Twitter Business, tweets with video get 10 times more engagement than those without. What’s more, when you include a video in a Promoted Tweet, you stand to save more than 50% per engagement.

Videos add value to your Twitter strategy, but they have to be short. The maximum length of a Twitter video is two minutes and 20 seconds, although you can upload a longer video and cut it if needed.

Twitter has jumped on the live video bandwagon with an exciting feature that you can’t get on Facebook or Instagram — you can invite guests to “call in” via audio. Each live video can have up to three guests at a time. This is a great format for a Q&A or member news announcement.  

YouTube

YouTube leads for sheer user numbers, beating out even Facebook. Viewers include:

  • 90% of 18 to 24-year-olds
  • 93% of 25 to 30-year-olds
  • 87% of 30 to 49-year-olds
  • 70% of 50 to 64-year-olds

Structuring Your Video Content on YouTube

Someone who’s looking for video content from your association is likely to turn to YouTube first, so it’s a good idea to make sure as many of your videos as possible are hosted somewhere on the platform. 

Be sure to get your explainer videos uploaded to YouTube. Explainer videos are quick and engaging videos that introduce your association, and they’re an ideal way of making sure that your new YouTube followers can learn about you without having to navigate away from the platform.

Also, one of the main reasons why people log onto YouTube is to learn something, so make sure to upload any educational videos you have. This is a great platform for recordings of past speakers and explanations of industry issues in the news.

Make sure you have a high-quality thumbnail to entice people to your YouTube videos, and if you don’t already have one, add an annotation. These are the embedded boxes that you see in a YouTube video, inviting you to subscribe, like, or share.

4 Quick Wins to Increase Your YouTube Engagement

Annotations have a good chance of getting you more interactions. Like most other social media platforms, YouTube prioritizes videos that get high levels of engagement.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn, the social media site for career networking, is most popular with professional adults:

  • 44% of 25 to 30-year-olds
  • 37% of 30 to 49-year-olds
  • 24% of 50 to 64-year-olds

LinkedIn also skews toward the more educated, higher-income demographic. Only 9% of people without college education use LinkedIn, but more than half of those with advanced degrees are on the platform. Likewise, while 10% of people who make less than $30,000 a year use it, the percentage rises to 49% among those with an income above $75,000. 

LinkedIn is useful for attracting higher-ups in your industry, but it’s also a popular resource among those looking to get ahead. People consuming content on LinkedIn are your ideal audience — they’re in a professional mindset and they’re looking for ways to develop their careers.

Making the Most of Your LinkedIn

When people think about LinkedIn, they’re more likely to think about long-form professional content, and that definitely belongs on your association’s LinkedIn, but the platform can host almost any type of content. It’s nearly as versatile as Facebook and, as is true across the board, video makes any post more engaging.

LinkedIn Business reports that video is five times more likely than other content types to generate a conversation. You can post videos organically on your company page or purchase a sponsored video ad. If you’re already using sponsored content, adding video can increase your engagement by 300%. 

Best of all, because LinkedIn is a business platform, it lets you easily view engagement statistics for your videos. See at a glance how many likes, comments, and shares you’re getting, as well as the employers and job titles of your top viewers. It’s a great way to find out whether your videos are engaging your members.

Video in Social Media Strategies for Associations

The numbers prove it — video is an important tool for getting the engagement you need to succeed on social media. It draws people in, piques their interest, and inspires them to participate in the conversation, becoming active, involved association members.

Fortunately, today’s social media platforms make it easy to post video content, whether you’re going live or uploading professionally designed videos. The key is to match your video with the right platform so that you reach the right audience, at the right time, with the right message. Once you find that sweet spot, get ready — your association’s online engagement is about to take off.

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