Associations use social media for a variety of reasons —

  • To stay in front of their members
  • To earn new members
  • To sell books and other products
  • To garner interest from the press
  • To thank sponsors and advertisers

Most important, social media broadcast your association’s personality.

What is your organization’s persona?

That’s right. If you haven’t thought about the kind of individual your association personifies, now is the perfect time.

(We also recommend that you check out our post “Inbound Marketing for Associations” for some other key marketing tools.)

When you first branded your trade group, you might have developed a persona. We always recommend you picture someone very specific and even name him or her.

Your association’s persona might vary a bit depending on the social media you’re publishing to, but your persona has an age, probably a gender, a sense of humor or cleverness (or not), an air of authority, and other characteristics.

Your persona might actually be someone famous, either deceased or living. Whoever your association personifies, it is a person of great interest to your group’s members.

Say you’re an agricultural association. You could adopt the persona of a farmer, a scientist, a historian, or a county ag agent. You would speak in that person’s voice, never slipping into another role.

Understanding who your organization’s persona is will also help you keep your blog posts simple, direct, and approachable, almost like having a conversation with your readers.

When your members think of your association or nonprofit, who do you want them to see? A young mother? A 50-something top executive? A seasoned farmer?

Bear in mind that you may have more than one persona. If your primary markets are elementary school and secondary school teachers, for instance, you’ll want to learn to speak to them jointly and independently.

Also remember that even though social media is a form of broadcasting, broadcasting isn’t your intent. You want to create conversations with your target audiences. Elicit responses. Keep the dialogue going. Your audience wants to be heard

Developing blogs for your association or nonprofit

Blogs should be as interesting to write as they are to read.

We typically encourage an association to publish a variety of kinds of posts — some detailed and comprehensive explorations, others newsy, still others lighter, thoughtful, or even amusing.

Some blog ideas:

  • News — how recent news affects members of your association
  • Process — how something works
  • History — the little-known but highly entertaining history of something
  • Sales — some interesting facts about something in your on-line store
  • Volunteer/donation news — how your organization gives back to the community
  • Member in the news — something fascinating about a member
  • Fun facts — revelations that give your membership something to think about
  • Thoughtful essay — perhaps an opinion piece or bit of intelligent rambling

Typically, you want a blog to have a minimum of 300 words. However, internet intelligence says that the most successful blogs (the ones that show up best in the search engines) are at least 2,000 words.

That having been said, posts of 1500 words or more gained nearly 70% more tweets and 23% more Facebook likes.

We’re not suggesting that all of your blog posts be long. Only when they’re deserving of the time and effort, or when the posts reflect cornerstone content — that is, the bedrock content of your organization.

And if you run across studies that say people will only read 20% to 28% of blog posts, remember that you’re writing for human beings but ALSO to rank higher in search engine results pages.

Associations use social media on a variety of platforms

There are plugins available that share your content instantly with multiple social media platforms. These can be great.

More likely, you’ll want to craft each post differently for each platform, and some posts won’t be successful on certain platforms. For instance, members-in-the-news posts may play well on LinkedIn, yet fall flat on Facebook and Pinterest.

A good way to get started is to customize your posts until you feel comfortable publishing to multiple platforms simultaneously. Some email solutions let you customize for each just before hitting the publish button.

Facebook and Twitter allow users to see some posts from businesses even when users aren’t following those businesses. With some good writing and powerful images, you can pull some new audience members to your website so that they sign up for your newsletter.

Fourth, you can boost posts on Facebook. You can even set detailed parameters for your desired demographic. For example, you can choose to send posts to 20-somethings or to senior citizens, or to people who live in certain cities or who have certain interests. Boosting posts can be a great way to hit new markets.

If you want to talk about increasing revenue, we’re always available to chat. Call John Sutter, (301) 459‑5445, to talk about social media for your association.