Gabriella Lehimdjian is communications manager at ASIS International in Alexandria, Virginia.
For many associations, social media prowess is something they wish for, but don’t take action to achieve. Here’s how ASIS International improved its social audience by mapping out a strategy, posting consistently, and using analytics to help refine its process.
For years, many associations have struggled with optimizing their social media presence. Why? To be honest, many have never invested time or money in optimizing social media. As a result, established associations find it difficult to “step out of the box,” having not seen social as a priority. As much as people may complain about the influence social has on society, we cannot ignore the significant role it plays in our world, including for associations when it comes to branding, sales, learning, and communications.
For ASIS International (the largest membership association for security professionals), engaging with its social audience was paramount—security management professionals think fast, act fast, and move fast. ASIS wanted a social strategy that matched that speed. With members in 158 countries, the other consideration for ASIS was figuring out how to leverage its social channels in a way that felt inclusive and showcased the diversity of its membership. What ASIS concluded was it needed a dedicated staffer who could analyze data, iterate as needed, and execute a more robust social media plan. That is where I came in.
The key for us was not assuming anything about the metrics until they were in front of us. We experimented, analyzed, and experimented again until we found our various social sweet spots for each platform.
First, we set monthly meetings with each department—including learning, membership, business development, and marketing—to check-in and discuss what upcoming initiatives they needed support with. In addition to our goal of increasing our social strength (e.g., followers, engagement, and so forth) and their goal of getting people to answer calls to action (CTA), we also wanted to learn what social media insights they were most interested in. These insights could help inform their decisions. We began sharing the information they requested, as well as the results of specific campaigns, monthly.
Next, I created campaigns for each initiative, instead of sharing “one-off” posts like had been done in the past. Consistency and repetition help your audience remember your message. I also began applying Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) codes to every campaign. These codes can be added to any URL to track clicks and performance of marketing activities. Each campaign had its own UTM code for each social channel so we could track its success on each platform. Using Google Analytics, we found out how many times people clicked on links and if/what actions they took after doing so. Finding an easy and efficient social media management platform is very helpful. I have used different platforms in the past, but we settled on Falcon for ASIS. It checked more of the “user-friendly” boxes than any other, allowing us to organize our campaigns and schedule posts more efficiently.
Lastly, we analyzed (not just collected) the metrics available to us through Falcon and our social channels themselves to determine what was working and what wasn’t. This included looking at what campaign subjects had been shared, the photos included in the posts, the day/times they were published, and how often. To increase our CTA success rate, we would assess, analyze, and adjust the above factors accordingly as we moved through the year. In short, we performed educated experiments based on what we were seeing.
After six months, we discovered that our engagement rate had grown well above average. A study by Forrester determined that LinkedIn’s average engagement rate is 0.054 percent and Facebook’s is 0.073 percent. According to Rival IQ, the average engagement rate on Instagram is 0.98 percent and Twitter’s is 0.045 percent. We are performing 29 times higher than average on LinkedIn, 8.5 times higher on Facebook, 13 times higher on Twitter, and 3.9 times higher on Instagram. We are proud that our social media channels have grown so much that they now reach a diverse, global, and security-minded audience of more than 140,000 professionals from 100-plus industries.
The key for us was not assuming anything about the metrics until they were in front of us. We experimented, analyzed, and experimented again until we found our various social sweet spots for each platform. We will continue to experiment and analyze our strategy and processes related to execution, but for now, our sweet spots have made a significantly positive impact on our results.