There are thousands upon thousands of associations out there, but one thing all associations have in common: They all want to grow!
Now you may have a growth strategy in place (as part of your association’s strategic plan), but does that growth strategy incorporate social media? If not, you may want to consider adding that in, as social media is typically a fairly cheap and easy way to reach new eyes.
Not sure how to grow your organization’s membership using social media? Here are a few ideas:
1. Play around with Facebook ads
Facebook advertising has been around for a while, but in the past few years, it’s skyrocketed in terms of popularity (and importance). See, it’s becoming more and more complicated for companies and organizations to reach people organically (simply by posting), and a lot of that has to do with Facebook’s ever-changing algorithm. For the most part, Facebook only shows people content they typically interact with (like, comment on, share, etc.), so even if someone “likes” your organization’s page, they may not even see your posts in their newsfeed, unless they’re super fans who engage fairly regularly.
Long story short: Facebook advertising is becoming important, and not just to reach existing fans and followers, but to reach new eyes as well. The great thing about Facebook advertising is how targeted you can get. You can target people based on age, gender, occupation, geographic location, educational background, interests, etc. So for example, if you’re the Georgia Association of Educators, you could target people who live in the state of Georgia and work in public education. And if your ad copy is compelling enough, you could just get them to join your association (or at the very least, snoop around on your website – which is a start!).
2. Encourage your members to spread the word (and make it easy for them to do so)
By now, you probably know your members are your greatest marketing tool, but how much are you actually doing to get them to spread the word about your association? If you have a member referral program in place, that’s great – you’re definitely on the path to growing your organization’s membership. But to take that initiative up a notch and really get your members to spread the word about your association, consider creating a member recruitment toolkit. In that toolkit, you could have resources your members could share to better “sell” your association (a fact sheet with your mission, vision, benefits, etc., a pricing sheet, a “Reasons to Join” sheet, and so forth). And in that kit, you could also have a few pre-written social media blurbs your members could easily share, encouraging their friends/network to take a look at your association.
Remember, the easier you make it for people to market your association, the more likely they are to actually do so.
3. Monitor industry conversations (and participate when appropriate)
The thing about growing your organization is you have to 1) reach people you don’t necessarily know, and 2) reach people who don’t necessarily know you (or about you). Not very easy. So how do you find these “unknown folks” who may have some interest in joining your association? You have to go to the social media watering hole – the place where people in your industry are chatting/interacting. And to find that watering hole, you need to take advantage of hashtags. Is there a popular hashtag people in your industry use? For example, in the public relations industry, #PRpros is a popular hashtag. If you can identify what that is, you can then become a part of that online conversation (by liking/sharing what’s being posted and sharing your own industry-related content).
Another way to utilize hashtags: trending topics and popular events. If you notice it’s National Chocolate Milk Day (by the trending hashtags that show up in Twitter) and you work for a dairy association, get in on that conversation! Real time + relevancy = social media GOLD!
As you can see, social media is great for growing your organization’s membership, but it’s also great for engaging your existing members as well. If you need help on the social media front – determining what platforms to be on, what to post, etc. – check out our free Small-Staff Guide to Social Media!