more than 50 million by the end of this
year. Rollyson says LinkedIn is therefore
a natural place for business executives
to organically connect, form discussion
groups and develop relationships.
“The keys to making LinkedIn or any
social media valuable are to first discover people, then start building a relationship, then develop a level of trust,”
Rollyson says. “If successful, business
comes along eventually.”
4. Links Beat Ink
Social media isn’t just about marketing.
It’s about public relations, too. In fact,
there are media experts who suggest
online exposure is now more important
than “getting ink” in a print publication.
The main advantage of online publicity — even from blogs — is that it
creates inbound links to your online
materials, including your association’s
Web site, that in turn allow your online
relationships to grow exponentially.
In spite of the opportunities it
presents, one of the fears association
professionals have about social media
is that it will make them more vulnerable to critics, who’ll be able to fault
them via blogs, online discussion groups
and more. Overall, however, it’s worth
the risk, so long as you’re prepared to
engage in dialogue, answer criticism
and make reasonable changes to products and policies when needed.
Whether you’re online or not, you
can be sure supporters and critics alike
are already talking about your association. It’s up to you whether or not to
join the conversation.
5. Content Is King
One reason members value associations
is for the information resources they
provide. Thanks to social media, associations have a new way to distribute those
resources, Schiave says.
“Associations are rich in content but
need these new ways to deliver shared
learning via the Internet, market programs
and conferences, and manage their public
image,” he says. “Our new social media
site allows our members to share information at an astounding rate. AME members, regional boards and committees can
set up groups on interests, topics or projects. They can post documents for downloading and editing and utilize features
such as a resource library. It’s also fully
integrated with our main Web site.
“We are also doing much more video
work these days. Our streaming videos of
testimonials from conference attendees
as well as excerpts from select speakers
are being posted on our conference Web
sites as well as on YouTube. They provide additional information, encourage
event registration and can be used for
membership recruitment programs.”
At your next association conference,
try producing video interviews of planning committee members speaking about
the meeting’s programs, entertainment
and other features. Post these on YouTube and stream them on your Web site.
You can also use RSS feeds, which members, reporters and other interested parties can subscribe to in order to be “fed”
However they decide to deploy social
media, associations shouldn’t be afraid to
experiment. As long as something’s cost-efficient, it’s worth trying. Associations
should therefore seriously and immediately
consider all their social media options —
by appointing a director of new media,
perhaps, or by publishing a blog.
No matter what you do, if you stay up
to date on the latest social media trends,
you will be well positioned for many new
opportunities — whether you’re an association professional or the president of the
Dick Barton is president of Barton and Barton Ltd.,
an integrated marketing agency located in Park
Ridge, Ill. He may be reached at (847) 698-5069
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