Many associations judge the success of their social media campaigns by likes, rather than whether that content leads users to engage further on their site. Changing how social media is used and measured can improve engagement and help generate revenue.
In today’s COVID-19 world, all associations are looking for ways to maintain revenue and membership. Social media can help, but only if you use it right, contends Dan Stevens, president of WorkerBee.TV, Inc.
“Social media is a really a low-cost recruitment tool, advocacy tool, and marketing tool, if used effectively,” Stevens said. However, “if you are publishing full stories, full videos, full anything on social media, you are accelerating your own demise.”
The problem with using social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even LinkedIn to publish your content is that it leaves your members and prospects on the social media platform, rather than drawing them to your site, where they can dive deep into all your association has to offer.
“I always joke that likes are for losers,” Stevens said. “It’s about awareness and conversion, not likes.”
So, how does an association use social media as a jumping off point to pull people into their content, particularly paid offerings? Stevens recommends a drip approach, where you offer a tiny snippet—micromarketing—to pull people to your site.
“Micromarketing gives awareness and pulls people into the full story on your ecosystem and your brand, where you can monetize with advertising or pay per view,” Stevens said. “They may say, ‘This is good, and I’m going to sign up and do something for free.’ And that’s how the internet works: People have to try before they buy. What you [as an association] have to do is create those experiences to pull people in.”
The good news is that associations are poised to easily create these experiences because they have awesome content. Stevens noted that in a typical year most associations only get about 15 percent of their members to attend their annual meeting. “When you interview members, they always say the meeting is a top benefit and has the best content,” Stevens said, noting the association’s best content should go wider than 15 percent of members.
But this year, with most associations moving to virtual conferences, they now have recorded sessions chockfull of good content they can use to draw people into their ecosystem.
“Why not take that great one-hour session and produce a three-minute version for your website and a 30-second social media version,” he said. Then post the 30-second version on social, where people can click through to see the three-minute version on your site. Associations can then charge for access to the full session or place it behind a member paywall. “We are seeing incredible conversion rates, when you go from micromarketing to microlearning to full learning,” Stevens said.
That said, Stevens notes that every interaction doesn’t have to be about pulling members back to your platform. Staying on platform and engaging can be useful at times. “Social media is a great way for you to have a two-way conversation in real time,” Stevens said. “It is a great way to test ideas, test themes, and see if people in a specific category care about topics. It’s a chance to post content and take a pulse of what’s important to the audience you are attracting and that may influence your programming mix.”
Whatever mix you use on social media, the key is to make sure that it makes sense from a revenue-generating perspective. “If you can’t convert, you’ve basically built another cost center, not a profit center,” Stevens said.
If an association finds its members aren’t as active on social media and wonders if devoting limited resources to this is a good idea, Stevens said that social media is also where you’re going to find your future members.
“If my future recruitment is based on attracting the young demographic who views content as free and thinks ‘I can find everything online, why do I need to pay?’ then you really have to engage to get them,” he said. “You have to get them to engage in your environment, so they can say, ‘This is worth paying for.’”
What social media techniques are you using to engage with your audience? Share in the comments.