How to Avoid Bungling Social Media

By: Kristin Clarke

Amber Mac outlines four mistakes to avoid when integrating a social media strategy with your association's communications strategy.

A strategy for integrating social media into your association's ongoing communication plans makes sense, but is it possible considering the speed of change in communications?

"It depends on the organization, but 'long term' for social media can be maybe six months to a year," says Amber Mac, a Canadian social media consultant and author of the new book, Power Friending: Demystifying Social Media to Grow Your Business. "The reason is that in order to see results, you have to give things like that some time. It's hard to do a social media strategy for more than a year."

In addition to unrealistic strategic planning, Mac outlines four other common mistakes to avoid:

Don't use social media as a broadcast platform."Think of it as being at a cocktail party," says Mac. "No one likes standing by that person who stands in the room and talks about themselves all the time. You really want to have a two-way conversation … so find your members and encourage people to have conversations … ."

Don't overextend yourself by trying to commit two or three hours a day to updating various social media tools. "You really don't have to do that," she says. "For a lot of people, it can be as simple as someone starting the day with 20 minutes and a cup of coffee who sits down and updates all of the accounts, listens to what people are saying, and then does the same thing at lunch and again before they leave work at the end of the day."

Don't underestimate the need to create compelling content."People often forget that," Mac says. "A lot of being successful in this social media world is being a great content generator … by providing helpful, valuable content to your end users, the kind that will be shared on Facebook and might include video content, for instance."

Don't forget that tools exist to help you measure impact."As much as I'd like to encourage people to just get out there and start experimenting, it's nice to have some kind of benchmark, even on a monthly basis, to track your success," she says. Among Mac's go-to arsenal are HootSuite on Twitter, Insights on Facebook, and Radian6.

Kristin Clarke is a business journalist and writer and researcher for ASAE. Email: [email protected]

Kristin Clarke

Kristin Clarke is books editor for Associations Now and a business journalist and sustainability director for ASAE.