I frequently get invited to speak on social media forprofessional associations, and when I do it often seems as if the clocks in the room have been turned back 10 years since before the advent of social media. Although there are always some savvy users of social media in the room when I present, the associations themselves are usually using the same antiquated medium to promote themselves, both internally and externally: a pre-historic website and email newsletter blasts.
I always say that social media is about the convergence of information and communication. Isn’t this the mission of every professional association: To inform their members and communicate regularly to increase the networking (and business) opportunities for their members? Then why don’t more professional associations embrace and strategically leverage all that social media has to offer, and in doing so also help increase association membership while retaining existing members?
The answer to this is that, based on my own experience, most associations are 1) either managed by executives who themselves aren’t frequent users of social media and/or haven’t implemented social in their own business or 2) outsource their marketing and other management affairs to companies or firms that who do not understand social media themselves.
For a 101 primer on some easy ways that professional associations can maximize their social presence, here’s a list of 6 checklist items for your association to confirm your current state vis a vis social media:
1. Create and Encourage Engagement in a Robust LinkedIn Group
With a closedLinkedIn Group that is moderated and only open to association members, you can achieve what you do at your in-person events 24/7 online and without local boundaries. Many associations have LinkedIn Groups but haven’t really encouraged engagement inside them. It is the perfect place to share information, generate discussions, and even share job openings that your company might have. If there is any social media website made for associations, it is undoubtedly LinkedIn. Take advantage of it and leverage it as an important supplement for everything that your association does at your in-person events.
2. Sharing Your Information with the World through Blogging
Sharing information encourages current members to keep informed as well as helps introduce your association to potential new members through the power of your content. Instead of taking a walled garden approach to protecting your content to only be accessible to members, strategically summarize your internal information for the outside world to showcase your leadership within your industry and encourage others to join. Blogging has the additional benefit of aiding your professional association’s website to ensure greater search engine optimization (SEO) benefits as well.