How Association Executives Can Win With Social Media Today

Croissant_how_association_executives_can_win_with_social_media_today February 7, 2022 By: Cassie Croissant

Since social media plays an important role in today’s world, association leaders must know how to leverage various platforms—from LinkedIn to newcomer Clubhouse—to better communicate with their members and industry.

As an association professional, you are uniquely positioned to bring an authoritative, authentic voice to your organization. Today’s audiences want to hear from real people, not faceless corporations. Also keep in mind that the social landscape has shifted seismically throughout the pandemic. So whether you’re drafting your first ever strategy or are dusting one off from pre-pandemic times, here are some new fundamentals you need to keep in mind:

Social media users are savvy. Consumption is high and platforms are crowded, so you can’t expect to stand out with mediocre content and minimal effort. Your voice needs to be consistent and transparent, and your content needs to teach, inspire, or entertain.

Social issues are top of mind. The pandemic shifted perspectives and opened conversations. Organizations and leaders can no longer choose silence. When your beliefs and policies are out in the open, you’ll ultimately end up welcoming in a community of steadfast followers.

The overarching goal in your efforts should be to build a community. Don’t get wrapped up in follower counts and post metrics, but rather in taking the time to engage with your audiences.

Audiences expect more from content. The bar has been set high for engaging content. Be bold in your insights, engage with users asking you questions, comment on provocative content, be authentically you, and put in the effort to stand out.

With these caveats in mind, it’s time to develop a strategy. What topics will you talk about, and how often will you share? I’d recommend starting by considering different content themes.

  • Organizational news. Around 65 percent of US employees say it's important for organizational leadership to actively communicate about their companies online, and 60 percent of employees will check an executive's social media before joining an organization. Shareable news can include everything from product developments to company-level policy changes and initiatives.
  • Industry insights. You aren’t just a leader within your company; you’re a leader within your industry. Sharing industry updates with personal insights demonstrates your expertise and helps build your reputation, setting you up to be a trusted resource and thought leader.
  • Crisis management. Every organization or industry will inevitably face some level of crisis, and it’s important that as a leader, you’re helping right wrongs publicly. Acknowledging errors on social helps humanize your organization or industry, and it provides a quick, accessible way to keep media and stakeholders informed.
  • Social issues. It’s no longer acceptable to choose neutrality. People want to know where you stand on the big issues. You cannot win everyone’s affection, but you can build a loyal following of people who know exactly what you and your organization or industry stand for.

With your content themes in mind, your next step would be channel selection.

  • LinkedIn. In 2019, LinkedIn was voted the most trusted social media platform. With more than 630 million users, it’s a natural choice for executives who are looking to build a following of professionals.
  • Twitter. This tool allows you to become part of trending conversations and lets you rely more heavily upon text than image and video. However, Twitter will demand your time, as you should be scanning frequently to see what conversations you can take part in.
  • Clubhouse. Launched as the world locked down, Clubhouse quickly gained popularity. On Clubhouse, you can host a room and hold open conversations with audiences, allowing for real-time industry feedback, or you can invite other industry professionals to join you on a panel.
  • Instagram. You can utilize Instagram in two ways. The first would be to amplify your personal profile. Know that Instagram users will expect to be taken behind the scenes of your life in an intimate and honest way. The second use would be to amplify your organization, and keep in mind, it’s pretty much expected for organizations to have a presence on Instagram now. Also note the platform algorithm prioritizes video over imagery.
  • TikTok. The last and trendiest platform to consider is TikTok. Prioritize an organizational profile over a personal one, because frankly, it’s incredibly difficult to stand out as an individual. There are tons of niche communities that exist on TikTok that your organization can become part of—or even create.

Each platform serves a unique purpose, caters to specific demographics, and demands tailored content. Target your content accordingly and focus your efforts on quality over quantity.

Inconsistent posting (posting way too often or almost never) and sharing low-quality posts will likely lead to people unfollowing you or your organization. You might need to play around with your post frequency to see what resonates best with your audience, and if you aren’t seeing great success on one platform, you might try another.

The overarching goal in your efforts should be to build a community. Don’t get wrapped up in follower counts and post metrics, but rather in taking the time to engage with your audiences. Answer questions, reply to comments, and react to other posts. Be bold in conveying your organizational ethos and allow conversations to unfold naturally. That’s how you will build and retain a community of loyal followers.

Cassie Croissant

Cassie Croissant is vice president of integrated marketing at Allison+Partners in New York City.