Many associations use social media marketing to post content to various platforms as a means for getting their message out to as wide an audience as possible. As one website, todaymade.com, put it, “social media is about dialogue, not push marketing.” That would be the social part of social media. And, we as humans are social beings. Imagine who you would rather spend time with—someone who talks on and on about themselves without letting you get a word in edgewise, or someone who asks you about how you are doing, wonders what your opinions are and genuinely seems to care more about you personally than about impressing you.
Not too long ago, I attended a lunchtime talk by the social media team at American Family Insurance. The speakers were pretty delighted with Twitter as an ideal platform for interacting and building engagement with their target audience. I got to see their words put into action. As the program was beginning, I tweeted that I was looking forward to attending the program. Within minutes, American Family had favorited my tweet, and tweeted @me that they hoped I find the program helpful. Later that afternoon, one of the speakers tweeted @me, thanking me for attending. Now, that’s some really attentive engagement.
Here are 5 ways associations can use social media to engage members:
- Tweet a welcome message @new_members when they join your association and congratulatory messages @members who achieve successes or milestones.
- Design posts for engagement by using compelling visuals or humor, something to evoke an emotional response.
- Thank people for “liking” and “sharing” your content.
- Allow for commenting on blog posts, and respond in a timely manner to comments on your blog, FaceBook and Twitter posts, even if just to say thank you for the comment.
- Encourage the use of a brand hashtag by promoting it in all related internet and print marketing.
Another example demonstrating the power of engagement took place at the annual conference of one of our clients. We had a first-time exhibitor who became a super-user of the conference’s mobile app. Beginning before the conference even began, he was posting photos and status updates frequently, commenting on the photos and updates of others, and messaging with staff and registrants. Although he had never before met anyone in attendance, participants knew who he was and many already felt connected to him. Needless to say, by the time he hosted his booth in the exhibition hall, he had built relationships and he experienced a steady flow of prospects stopping by to talk with him.
Social media marketing is valuable because it facilitates engagement. Engagement is important because that interaction strengthens members’ understanding of, relationship with, and trust in your association.