Here’s the thing: for awhile now, marketers have been aware that online social connections matter – that a strong digital footprint is essential for success. Traditional social networks have been elevated to a place of prominence and countless hours have gone into make sure follower counts increase, content is shared and that search rankings rise. But, are these efforts paying off for those involved in social media marketing for membership associations? Or, are they just fluff? Is there something more that can be done; something that leads to measurable organizational growth and effectiveness?
Why Doubts Exist
As made evident in a recent study by Social Media Examiner, Facebook is the most popular social media platform for marketers and organizations. It makes sense, it is the largest social media network in the world with over 1 billion users. But, the interesting thing about this statistic is what follows it: despite its popularity – with almost 100% of marketers reportedly using the network – 57% of those surveyed do not believe that their Facebook posts make a difference; they view the network as ineffective.
The reason? It’s true. While Facebook offers excellent opportunities to connect, it is inherently limited. Due to distractions, a newsfeed that displays posts based on content and popularity rather than interest, mass advertising and other features, messages tend to get lost – especially branded messages with a specific group of individuals in mind.
Instead of just dropping social networking activities – which is absolutely not recommended, especially since membership associations tend to thrive on the communication and participation of members – the better idea is to focus on efforts that lead to results, to refocus and to commit to moving forward in manner that incorporates the best aspects of social media in an environment where you maintain control.
Communities matter. They’re critical for success and many businesses depend upon them for growth. This is just as true, if not more so, for membership associations. Who’s a part of your community? Who could you include in a new social endeavor that connects your members and target members over your actual brand? These are questions to consider prior to starting a branded community – a social network that is created and maintained by your organization.
From there, consider looking into a platform – like Social HubSite – that allows your members to connect with each other, and you, over subjects of interest and common goals and objectives, whether they relate to a sport, a business, an industry, a hobby or anything else.
Focus on Engagement
If an individual becomes a member of your association, and does not feel connected – or notice the benefits that you have to offer – they’re unlikely to stay on past the initial membership stage. The target here is engagement. If your members cannot engage, they cannot connect.
Inside of your branded platform, make engagement a top priority. Recognize members for their successes, take the time to ask and answer questions, upload project pictures that relate to the common interests of your members and discuss news topics that affect your industry (when applicable). Take the time to recognize members individually – especially new members. By taking the time to focus on engagement – rather than volume – you’ll give members a reason to stick around.
Make it Essential
One of the best ways to get your members involved in your community is to make it an essential stop. Like most membership associations, you probably have documents, tools and other items that members have access to. Why not post them inside of your community (something that’s not possible through traditional social networks)? By requiring members to first access your community prior to obtaining specific benefits, you’re making it a part of their routine. This is one of the best methods of raising awareness, promoting a strong community and encouraging engagement.
Membership associations face unique challenges that other businesses do not. They are required to think creatively and to forget about traditional restraints in order to not only survive, but thrive. It all starts with the right community platform and a focus on engagement. Where do you stand? Are you ready to take a step in the right direction? Check out Social HubSite to see how it could benefit your association today.