Is your association truly social?

This post caught my attention because I’ve spent much of the past few months talking to associations who are facing huge challenges.

Without social, you are neglecting your audience. If your business isn’t social, it’s time to give your marketing a makeover. Let’s face it, if all your friends decide their new favorite place is the local lounge and you’re still sticking to the old tried-and-true corner café, you’re just out of the loop, which translates to out of the conversation. According to Hubspot, US internet users spend 3x more minutes on blogs and social networks than on email.

via Building Social into Marketing is a Significant Competitive Advantage.

Members are retiring, students aren’t converting to membership after graduation, new members aren’t sticking around. Some groups are doing a tremendous amount online, some aren’t. Most have Facebook pages, Twitter streams, Flickr accounts, etc. Yet, all too often, the association’s social streams are staid corporate communications, simply press releases or announcements packaged in new formats. That’s not enough to make your association truly social.

It’s time to integrate social media into your organization’s DNA. How? Start by thinking of social media as a conversation, then look at all your social media. Are you engaging members in meaningful conversations? Or are you making announcements they can take or leave? Are you actively providing member service via social channels? Do members ask questions online? Why not? If they do ask, do you answer promptly? (I can’t believe how many pages I’ve seen where questions are unanswered for days and even weeks.)

Your association still has much to offer, even in this era of instant access to unbelievable troves of information. But, it’s time to go beyond the tried-and-true approaches and embrace social media throughout your organization. That doesn’t mean having a communications staffer spend 10 hours a week managing social streams. It means involving every staffer from the Executive Director down, engaging volunteer leaders, and building social media into the DNA of your organization.

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