Is Your Association Overlooking the Power of Social Media?
Texas Aggregate & Concrete Association President and CEO Josh Leftwich breaks down his simple approach for making a meaningful impact with social media.
There’s no question that social media has the power to connect people, share vital information and spark transformational thinking. It’s impactful, it is immediate and in its most basic form, social media is very easy to use. You snap a pic, write a caption and click share.
So with such a low barrier to entry and such high potential for reach, why do so many associations undervalue and underuse social media? In a survey of nearly 500 senior leaders of North American trade associations, professional societies and association management companies, Association Adviser’s 2021 Association Communications Benchmarking Report found that less than two in five respondents strongly agree that social media is a high priority, and only one in five strongly believe their social media strategy is well-defined.
For many associations, it comes down to a matter of resources. Staffs are small and stretched to their limits attending to revenue-linked initiatives like membership growth, annual conferences and credentialing courses. And in some associations where the membership and association workforce are aging, there can be a reluctance to adapt to new communications strategies.
The staff at the Texas Aggregate & Concrete Association (TACA) is not big by any means. Josh Leftwich, President and CEO alongside two other employees, plus external support members, serve the organization’s entire membership base of concrete, aggregate and cement producers, and associated industries. Yet despite their limited resources, Leftwich has made it a priority for TACA to maintain a strong presence on social media. “Look, it is probably something we want to do better at—there is always room for improvement—but we do have a pretty good effort to get stuff out there on our channels.”
His communication strategy targets both short-term and long-term goals. “The great thing about social media is it reaches so many people so fast and you can get out messaging really quickly, which is very important for us, especially during legislative sessions,” says Leftwich. “Policymakers can see the social media posts from our staffers and easily get more insight on what our association is about, what we’re doing, and what we’re advocating for.”
TACA also leverages social channels to push users to their own platforms. “We’re driving users to our app where they can engage with articles, videos and member profiles.”
To those overwhelmed by social media, who have yet to engage because they feel stuck, Leftwich advises to not overthink things. The best first step is to simply start. And to start simply, “We don’t have the resources to do the kinds of big profiles we’d like to do of all of our members, so we will post pictures of people and companies working on cool projects. Everyone loves to see themselves highlighted like that, and it shows that our organization is out there, that we’re plugged in, representing our members and supporting their efforts.”
Finding your voice on social media is trial by error, Leftwich advises. “It’s a very fluid thing, not at all a one-size-fits-all type of deal.” What works for his association might not work for everyone, so he advises experimenting. If something gets a lot of engagement, great. If not, try something else. The same goes for the different social media platforms. While it is simple enough to use a third-party app that allows you to post on multiple platforms simultaneously, you may find one is more “sticky” with your members. For TACA, they find their best results are found typically on LinkedIn, which is not uncommon. In the Benchmarking Report, 60% of respondents said they saw the highest engagement on LinkedIn, with Facebook coming in a close second.
Social media isn’t disappearing anytime soon—if ever—therefore, associations would be wise to give it as much time and attention as possible. “It’s really not too hard to do,” says Leftwich, “and it can have such a big impact on all of your association’s efforts.”
Naylor Association Solutions provides innovative association tools and services for strengthening member engagement and increasing non-dues revenue. Our offerings include member communications, management of live and online meetings and events, online career centers, Association Management Software (AMS) and Member Data Platform (MDP), full-service association management and online learning. A strategic partner to professional and trade associations in the U.S. and Canada, Naylor serves more than 1,700 associations across 80+ industries. For more information, visit https://www.naylor.com