Maddie Grant

How Associations Use Social Media Campaigns To Engage Their Members

Video Transcription

Hi, everybody this is Maddie Grant. I’m very excited to take part in this year’s outreach marketing summit. My presentation is about how associations use social media campaigns to engage their members.

I’m honored to be able to show you a few examples of association social media campaigns as they were described to me in an ongoing series of interviews on the SocialFish blog.

Just to give you a little context. I run SocialFish, a large social media blog which is specifically for associations of non-profits. Way back in 2009, in the early days of social media, I ran a series of interviews of association social media managers. I thought earlier this year that it would be fun and interesting to run a series again five years later and see what’s changed.

Now you’ll need to read the interviews to get the answer to that question, but one thing that certainly has changed is my addition of a question about any social media campaigns the social media managers had run as well as any particular lessons learned.

I’m excited to have the opportunity here to give you a quick sampling. What I’m going to do is show you a few examples and we’ll see if by the end we can’t glean some lessons out of them.

I’ll share the descriptions of these campaigns in the social media manager’s own words. Sound good? Without further ado, let’s jump right in.

My first example is from the American Institute of Architects. Here’s the description as told to me by Sybil Walker Barnes, Director of Social Engagement.

“One of our larger campaigns is National Architecture Week, which takes place the second week of April annually. This is our week to shine an even brighter spotlight on all the good works that architects create and to engage with the public around their appreciation of architecture.

It’s a virtual event and typically consists of a designated landing page on the institute website that features award winning architects and their design projects along with information about the architecture profession. As well as engaging content on Facebook and Twitter and branded imagery of design projects on Instagram.

To engage, we’ve hosted photo contests on Instagram and encouraged followers to share their architectural photos on Twitter and Facebook. We had nearly 3500 entries to the photo contests. We supplemented our effort with promoted tweets and Facebook ads generating nearly six million impressions during this three-day campaign.

We had some successful firsts during this year’s campaign. It was the first time we featured a social hub on our NAW webpage. The hub pulled in more than 2,000 tweets, Facebook posts, videos and Instagram posts. All tagged with the NAW hashtag Arch Week 14 into one hub on our website, thereby enabling users to interact with the social content without leaving the website. We also have partnered with an affiliate organization and they helped to promote the event.

Probably the biggest first, the National Architecture Week logo and URL appeared on the Jumbotron in New York City’s Times Square.”

Next, up we have the American Veterinary Medical Association. Here’s what Julie Ciaramella Web and New Media Writer for AVMA had to say.

“We haven’t done large-scale campaigns, but we’ve had a number of planned and spontaneous campaigns that have done well. We utilize our social media channels heavily as part of integrated campaigns to promote AVMA events and observances. Such as National Pet Week, National Dog Bite Prevention Week, Check the Chip Day, and several others. They’ve been quite successful, driving great traffic to our website and increasing awareness.

During the Winter Olympics this year, we developed a spontaneous campaign to increase awareness of AVMA and veterinary medicine. It started as a simple status post asking what events a veterinary Olympics would have.

The comments were so funny that we decided to turn a number of them into images that we shared daily on our page. This fun campaign garnered a page reach in excess of two million and tripled the number of new page likes we received each day.

The event began with a status update on February 6, asking our friends what events they thought would be part of a veterinary Olympics. We then took a number of their comments and converted them into humorous images to share each day of the real Olympics 17 events were posted.

Here are some stats. It was all done in fun with no purposes other than to have fun and prove to people that we can be fun. And increase awareness and engagement on our page.

Check the Chip Day, which is primarily promoted via social media, has been a big success. In its first year, 2013, we saw noticeable spike in traffic to the webpage and to our media library where we sent people to listen to a podcast. We also observed dramatic increases in page views and engagement due to our promotion of the event, which included sharable images.”

Example number three comes from ASCD, which is an education association. Tina Byland, their Social Media Specialist shared this with me.

“We’ve done quite a few social media campaigns and I’ve loved every one. While each is different, one of my favorites was ASCD Arias Week back in May. We have an excellent series of short format publications called ASCD Arias that answer the questions that concern educators most.

The ASCD Arias series is built around the question, what keeps you up at night? Our publishing team was seeking new burning questions straight from educators. Well who better to give us new ideas than our social media followers? The campaign was completely integrated. Blanketing each of our social media channels and our in-service blog with a week’s worth of content and a special giveaway.

Here’s a breakdown of how this campaign was executed. We started the week out with a blog post announcing that we’d be giving away a set of 13 ASCD Arias publications. Blog posts from ASCD Arias authors followed the rest of the week as they shared insights from their publications and what kept them up at night.

On Twitter, we shared the message throughout the week, but especially Tuesday night during our monthly ASCDL2L Twitter chat, which features ASCD authors and ASCD emerging leaders. The hour-long chat that month focused on the challenges, questions and concerns that educators have today.

On Facebook, Pinterest, Google Plus, Instagram and LinkedIn the conversation continued around the question, what keeps you up at night? all week. We collected responses from each channel and compiled them together for our publishing team.

Because the campaign took place during Teacher Appreciation Week, we paired it with the Teacher Appreciation marketing campaign that offered a bundle of AFCD Arias publications at a discounted rate.

This campaign demonstrated two important lessons. The first is that your engagement will be most successful when it’s authentic. We weren’t just asking people to answer questions so we could tally their responses and increase our follower count.

We were asking because we wanted to hear their thoughts and concerns. And we were going to do something with them. We wanted to plan out new books to answer their questions and meet their most pressing needs. We needed them to be a partner in this and we had a specific goal in mind, which made this a successful campaign.

The second lesson is to plan, plan, plan. Even when we thought we planned for every scenario we found ourselves needing to plan more. Everyone on the team had specific responsibilities for channel monitoring, data collection and reporting.

We worked hard to answer every how, when and where question we could before Monday morning. Even then, we had to be nimble and flexible once the campaign launched because things naturally changed as the week went on. Organization was absolutely key to our success.”

Two simple examples come from AOTA, the American Occupational Therapy Association. Stephanie Yamkovenko, Web Editor at AOTA shared these with me.

“We’ve done quite a few campaigns. Currently we’re in the middle of a month long campaign with several occupational therapy associations from other countries. This is the second international campaign that we’ve done with these organizations. It’s great to get a more global reach.

This campaign is called OT Life Hack and we’re asking occupational therapy practitioners to share tips or tricks that solve everyday problems. I find that when campaigns are visual they really help with engagement and sharing because many people are posting photos of their life hack ideas. It’s helping that content be shared more often which is widening our reach organically.

We also have an enterprising member who started the OT Memes Facebook page, which is hilarious. We partnered with him to develop some memes for OT month, which is in April.”

Okay, my final example is from ASCE the American Society of Civil Engineers and my interview with Elizabeth Birkholz their Social Media Specialist. This one brings us full circle in a way because it’s pretty similar to National Architecture Week, but I liked what Elizabeth had to say about it.

“The ASCE bridges photo contest is an ongoing social media and marketing campaign aimed at celebrating inspiring structures and raising sales of our annual bridges calendar. This year we received over 900 submissions, 14 of which were selected to appear in the calendar. Though you’ll have to catch me in 2015 to ask how many calendars we’ve sold. I can say that engagement metrics reveal that the contest and marketing surrounding it is popular content for our followers.

From sharing quotes by engineers about why bridges inspire them, to explaining technical elements about a bridge pictured in a winning photo, the contest is ripe with opportunity to publish photos and stories that our followers love to like and share further spreading the word about the contest and the calendar itself.

In general, I believe that anything marketed on social media should be treated as a campaign rather than a one off post. Think about it, will one tweet really help you to sell more webinars? Maybe, but it’s not going to be a lot. And it’s not very measurable.

Our best success comes when we take the time to outline goals and develop content and marketing tactics to help meet those goals via social media.”

That’s all the time we have today for examples. Can we pull out some themes from these? I think you might come to some different conclusions and I invite you to look at these again in more detail later. I will post the link.

Here are just a few things that jumped out at me as I was looking at these. First is that while we know that strong visuals are the most powerful element of successful social media campaigns, these examples show that finding images tied to something your audience knows or cares about. Not just, what you the organization know or care about works the best.

Secondly, these campaigns work because they’re engaging. They’re fun. They’re social. They have human emotion behind them. Engaging in a human way equals engagement as a metric.

Third, several of these campaigns were purely designed for engagement. Not just to promote a product or industry cause. And that kind of campaign can be hugely powerful for community building.

Finally, my big takeaway is that while you can happily run a campaign on one social network, the most powerful campaigns here are cross channel and have applications on multiple sites.

I’m sure there’s a lot more to learn from these. You will have noticed I did not include many specific metrics related to these examples partly because they were all so different with different goals. I definitely encourage you to go read all about them and more on the SocialFish blog where you can also connect with each of these awesome association social media managers and ask them directly for more details about these campaigns.

The list of interviews on the blog, there are a few here in this screen shot. I’m posting more every week, so it’s a really great ongoing series. If you go to this link and search for case study, that’s the easiest way for them to all come up. Thank you for heading over there to check them out.

I will leave you with this lovely picture from National Architecture Week. Thank you for listening. Please send me questions or feedback. Tweet me @maddiegrant or email me, thank you.