Social Considerations for Associations

Written by Jeanne Sheehy

Chief Marketing Officer, Bostrom

Whether or not you consider your association a social media pro, it remains an essential part of every marketing strategy. According to Edison Research, there are now approximately 223 million social media users age 12+ in the U.S. Another key finding from Edison’s The Infinite Dial® 2019 study showed that Facebook has 15 million fewer users overall in the U.S. in 2019 than 2017.  What?!?

Reasons for this vary widely by age. “Those age 13-34 say they are using Facebook less because they enjoy other social media sites more, their friends don’t post much on Facebook, and because they are trying to avoid parents and relatives on the site. Those age 35+ say they are using Facebook less because they don’t like rants and have privacy concerns.”

Pew Research shows that LinkedIn and Instagram have grown in users while Twitter, Facebook and YouTube remained stagnant or decreased. Marketers attribute this to the reasons stated above regarding content type, privacy and access. Here are four things your Association needs to think about for social planning in 2020.

Focus on the platforms your target audiences are using

Seems like common sense but often times we set up all these platforms and then forget to really monitor their value and usage. If you’ve recently redesigned your customer journey map, personas and digital user experience then you need to match that to your social platforms and focus on the ones where your members, partners and prospects truly want to engage with you. This can help stretch your budget further and focus your efforts on the right audience.

Organic and Paid Influencer Marketing

Word of mouth marketing is nothing new but Influencer Marketing, although similar, is, and can get pretty pricey with a low ROI if not done right. I use the term Organic Influencer Marketing for associations because, by their nature, associations are filled with gurus, experts, leaders in the field that could have amazing social followers and power to retweet and repost your association’s content. So first, use them. Identify who they are, see how socially active they are, and ensure they are part of your social strategy to follow, repost, and engage them to help you distribute.

Paid Influencer Marketing is powerful too. Often, marketers make the mistake of focusing on subscriber count as an indication of a creator’s value but engagement metrics are much more telling and is what pricing should be based on—not subscribers alone. Influencer marketing platforms and social analytics services can help brands understand what influencers should be paid and even what ROI they will generate, so you always know where they stand in relation to the bottom line.

Social Commerce – hit the join button

Every social post uses a call to action (CTA) but what if your CTA is an immediate join, register or subscribe button? How powerful would that be!  According to Forbes, “the sheer amount of time spent by people, especially younger generations, on social media apps has positioned social commerce as the indisputable market breakout trend for e-commerce in the coming years.” Social has commerce channels and can provide an easy, breezy buying experience for users. Marketers can supplement their ads with a buy/join/register button to optimize conversions. The addition of this can eliminate the step needed for a website visit or app download. Though this trend hasn’t caught up yet, it can certainly add value and improve conversion rates and should be on everyone’s radar.

Micro-Moments are changing the rules

Back in 2015 Google came up with the term Micro-Moment defining it as when people reflexively turn to a device—increasingly a smartphone—to act on a need to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something, or buy something. They are intent-rich moments when decisions are made and preferences shaped. This is truly reshaping the mindset you need to have not only on social channels but in your content strategy overall.

Which micro-moments are people using that could lead them to your association? What’s influencing them, and how can you become a part of that process? Think about helpful content on social that would guide them to you – videos, education, blog posts. Use short surveys and polls to gather more information about what members need. Think about the search terms your audience would be using to get ideas and inspiration about a profession or industry that matches your association’s offerings. Let that be your guide to social content.  Visit for more information on harnessing the power of micro-moment marketing.

Other noteworthy tidbits:

  • 50% of searches will be through images or speech in 2020 so make sure your association name is on there
  • Video will continue to grow so make sure your social strategy includes a lot of short videos
  • VR and AR adoption will grow – use Facebook 360, Facebook Canvas and other tools to take advantage of this trend
  • Video features will continue to be added – Facebook added some interactivity features to both live and on-demand videos, enabling brands to run different types of polls and quizzes
  • GIFs are being used in more and more creative ways so make sure your creatives are taking a look at some great uses out there

In closing, expect to see a lot stronger action on disinformation, propaganda, and untrustworthy information sources in social media as the major players seek to maintain the integrity and usefulness of their networks. This hasn’t been an issue for most associations but you need to keep an eye out on legislation and how it could affect your efforts. Good luck in 2020 redefining your social strategies!

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