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5 Forms of Social Outreach for Associations

By Sasha Zinevych

5 Forms of Social Outreach for Associations image socialmediastrategy1

image credit: stuart miles/

Is your social media strategy short-sighted? While 93% of marketers are now using social media for business, studies indicate that professionals at small and mid-sized businesses primarily consider it a platform for engaging prospects and customers. Too many organizations aren’t looking deep enough into the potential of social media as a public platform for reaching their organizational goals, from recruiting better talent, to performing market research.

Social isn’t going anywhere anytime quickly, either – McKinsey’s most-recent iConsumer survey found a 20% decline in email usage over the past few years. Social is becoming a highway for communication and discovery among consumers. Snapchat’s recent refusal to be purchased by Facebook for $3 billion is clear evidence that social communications are overtaking how consumers connect with friends and brands. If you’re simply using social media to be noticed by your prospects, you’re doing it wrong. Here are five ways to take full advantage of social media for associations:

1. Networking

Any networking expert worth their salt will quickly tell you that everyone needs to network. It’s not just a tool for job-seekers. Organizations can also benefit from building peer relationships, and this fact is especially crucial for social media managers. Networking with other companies in your niche can lead to greater exposure for your content marketing efforts, guest blogging opportunities, and other key connections which yield far greater dividends than simple exposure within your network.

What to Do: Your social media strategy needs to include a clear and actionable plan for networking. Identify brands to target for relationship-building, and approach the process with what the Newslink Group calls a “full expectation of reciprocity.” Help others, and they’ll assist you in return.

2. Internet Visibility and SEO

SEO isn’t really dead, but it’s so closely tied to social media marketing that it’s pretty difficult to view the two separately. Gaining the search engine authority you need from your content marketing requires more than simply publishing your blogs to Facebook. You’ll benefit much more if your content is liked, shared, ReTweeted, and commented on.

What to Do: To make the most of social’s SEO potential, you’ve got to cast your blogs in the most compelling light possible. Social and content can’t exist in silos, and your social media strategy must include time to optimize your postings for maximum engagement and exposure.

3. Researching

90% of the world’s data was created in the last two years. It’s a staggering statistic that’s fully responsible for all the discussion around big data and analytics. The immense volume of Facebook statuses, Tweets, original Pins, and Google+ posts generated each day contributes significantly to our growing stores of data.

Market research used to be incredibly costly. Marketers had to arrange focus groups and telephone surveys, and the results of these studies weren’t always actionable. Now, all it takes to gain a wealth of insight is knowing how to leverage the right insights from your Facebook feed.

What to Do: Use social media to research your competitors closely, listen in on conversations within your market, and understand trends before others in your niche do.

4. Recruiting

Finding the right talent isn’t any easier. Recent studies indicate that the talent gap is growing in many fields highly relevant to digital marketing, particularly when it comes to analytics and mobile marketing:

5 Forms of Social Outreach for Associations image enginewatch1

image credit: Search Engine Watch

What to Do: While we can’t change the talent pool in your town, social media can allow organizations to identify and court candidates for hard-to-fill positions within marketing and information technology, and at the intersection of these disciplines. While it’s a generalization, not a rule, tech-savvy individuals are often early adopters and power users of social networks.

5. Sharing Content

Social media isn’t a megaphone for publicizing your blog, but it’s a way to curate a stream of content that can offer value to your prospects and customers. Most brands have gotten the knack of publishing to social channels, though 56% of marketers struggle to find the right information to curate.

What to Do: It isn’t easy to publish the right content with the right ratio of curation to in-house work, but it’s critical in order to fully realize the potential of your audience. Your social strategy shouldn’t just include the need to curate, but effective and actionable guidelines for the kinds of content you’ll with your audience.

Regardless of how comprehensive and thoughtful your social media strategy is, your brand will struggle to meet organizational goals if you’re too focused on your channels as a tool for sharing content or marketing. Shift your thinking to include social as a modern highway for communication, and you’ll yield far better results.

Does your social media strategy include networking, recruiting, and research?