In our ever-evolving world, associations must harness the power of social media to communicate their value and ensure their future relevance, says Eric Kuhn, opening keynoter at ASAE’s 2017 Marketing, Membership & Communications Conference.
The industries that associations represent and the business world in which they operate have changed considerably, even in the last decade.
“Basically, every single company, every single industry is really in a fight for the future,” said Eric Kuhn, chief marketing officer at Layer3 TV and the opening keynoter at ASAE’s 2017 Marketing, Membership & Communications Conference. “Today, the world’s largest taxi firm, Uber, owns no cars. The world’s most popular media company, Facebook, creates no content. The world’s most valuable retailer, Alibaba, carries no stock. The world’s largest accommodation provider, Airbnb, owns no properties. There’s this huge shift … in every industry.”
And one of the most powerful marketing tools association have in fighting for the future is social media, according to Kuhn. But it’s not enough to just to be on social media; in order to drive success, you have to leverage it to its fullest extent, within the context of your own specific organization.
“It’s really important in this changing world to make sure that you don’t just have the best practices, but that you have ‘the next practices,’ because what’s happening tomorrow is coming up so quickly and everything is changing so rapidly,” he said.
So what are those next practices?
Understand the nuances of your consumers. “Consumers behave differently on different platforms,” Kuhn said. That’s why it’s important for associations to take time to understand the nuances of who their customers are, when they want to interact, and how they respond to different types of posts. By doing so, they’ll ensure their social media posts have the best chance of reaching the right audience at the right time.
Communicate your value to acquire followers. In an increasingly noisy social media environment, it’s not enough to write a tweet posting the date of your conference and asking for followers, Kuhn said. Instead, associations should think about the value they’ll bring to potential followers. “Will [following the association] make me smarter?” Kuhn asked. “Will it keep me informed? Will it tell me what’s going on?”
Create a viral campaign with these three steps. “If something is going to go viral, it’s because [the organization behind it] informed you, they’ve told you what their cause is, they’ve inspired you, and they’ve given you a reason to share,” Kuhn said. He used the ALS Association’s ice bucket challenge as an example. Not only did the group inform and inspire consumers with its campaign, but it also gave them something actionable to do: either post of video of themselves throwing a bucket of ice water over their heads or donate money to an ALS charity.
Keep in mind that content is king. When Kuhn asked MMCC attendees to raise their hands if they’d been on the internet in the past 24 hours, a sea of arms flooded the room. But there was no response to his next question: “Can someone tell me the last banner ad you saw?” This shows that consumers aren’t going to see a banner ad and be enticed to buy a product. “Companies, brands, and organizations need to communicate in clever ways,” Kuhn said. And one of those ways is by creating compelling content that tells a story.
Talk to your consumers. Although this might seem like a no-brainer, associations should never talk down to their members and customers. Rather, they should create quality content that speaks to them. “Don’t waste their time,” Kuhn said. And when it comes to deciding how many times to post, he said that instead of focusing on the number of posts, concentrate on providing the right content.
In short, Kuhn said, “Companies of the future need to be open and honest and transparent both on social media and off social media—and be their true selves. … You want to live your brand.”