For a Membership Boost, Connect Your CEO to Content Strategy

At TRSA, it’s the CEO’s job to think critically about audiences the association wants to reach through a revamped content strategy. Here’s why he does it—and how he fits it into his workload.

Last week’s Membership Blog post focused on member engagement and the “passivity problem,” but there might be another type of passivity hindering your membership success—a CEO who’s not helping to guide the organization’s content strategy.

At TRSA, the association for the linen, uniform, and facility services industry, President and CEO Joseph Ricci, CAE, plays an active role in content, including thinking through new ways to target nonmembers and members’ customers through digital channels, particularly social channels like Facebook and LinkedIn.

TRSA’s strategy rolled out last year, and it’s led to a new weekly meeting where Ricci and his content team huddle for 15 minutes on Fridays to track how audiences are engaging online. The routine keeps Ricci in the mindset of his members.

“It’s a kind of fun way to see what the content trends were for the last week or last month, and it helps to drive future stories,” he says.

The outcome speaks for itself. In one year, TRSA’s Facebook traffic went from two to 22 daily visitors. Its digital newsletter, Textile Services Weekly, has twice the readership today—more than 10,000 subscribers—than it did a year ago.

Meanwhile, member renewals are up by three points to 95 percent, and the organization has gained 36 new organizational members in a year. That’s something Ricci says he’s particularly proud of because his trade association is working in a highly consolidated industry.

“Our digital investment has already created some valuable ROI,” he says. “Tying this back to revenue proves that it’s working and can help make the case to the board. We’re not just talking about cost per impression. We’re talking about real engagement with real people that we’re now in constant connection with.”

Targeting Members’ Customers

When TRSA first started using digital and social publishing platforms, little thought was given to the audience, Ricci says. Now, whenever the content team meets, they’re thinking about reaching specific audience segments: nonmembers, members, and members’ customers.

“Originally, our approach was scattershot,” Ricci says. “Now, we use social media, not only to help us but to help our members as well.”
For instance, this animated video is designed to reach hospital administrators who want to avoid “linen loss,” which happens when textiles are either thrown out, taken, or misplaced—an environmental and cost issue.

“We identified things that we thought would be beneficial to our members’ customers. It could be research, whitepapers, benchmarking, trainings, or best practices,” Ricci says. “We made a list of those things and put them to work in monthly campaigns.”

TRSA found that smaller pieces of content, like animated videos about one to two minutes in length, worked well to build customer awareness, especially when it used paid promotion to boost the posts in social platforms. On the other hand, a whitepaper or longer training video worked best when it was targeted with Google AdWords, reaching specific industry professionals looking for more in-depth content resources.

Targeting Prospects

Where content consumption is concerned, TRSA tends to think about its member and nonmembers in similar ways and has fine-tuned an approach that focuses on the entire community, regardless of membership status.

While some associations restrict their newsletters to members only, TRSA encourages nonmembers to subscribe. The thinking is that a member prospect might find something valuable, like a job posting, in the newsletter and then visit TRSA’s website to learn more.

The newsletter also provides fodder for TRSA’s social media tactics. “We focus our content for the individual in two places: Facebook and LinkedIn,” Ricci says. “We look at our news for the week and select stories based on how they performed in the newsletter. Typically, it’s the human interest [stories]—with nice pictures or videos—that work great on Facebook. Anything that’s career- or job-oriented works better on LinkedIn.”

Ricci and his team are also thinking critically about content scalability and how one format, like video, can appeal to multiple audiences. Using the same animated video approach that it uses for members’ customers, TRSA produces How It’s Made-style features on the processes and machinery that go into commercial laundry. That’s likely to interest someone working in the textile industry, Ricci says.

“It’s something curious that our members want to watch, but also maybe they’ll share it with a customer,” Ricci says. “We can slightly tweak a video format, based on the audience it’s intended for, to communicate a consistent message.”

Is your CEO connected to your content strategy? How has it helped or changed your membership results? Share your comments in the thread below.

(vgajic/E+/Getty Images Plus)

Tim Ebner

By Tim Ebner

Tim Ebner is a senior editor for Associations Now. He covers membership, leadership, and governance issues. Email him with story ideas or news tips. MORE

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