Chances are your association already has a social media strategy. Today, the medium is becoming absolutely invaluable in reaching new audiences and engaging your existing membership. But did you know it can make just as big of an impact on your non-dues revenue?
That statement is true – conditionally. You cannot build a social media page for your professional, trade, or government association, and expect additional funds to start flowing in. Even a well-run Facebook or LinkedIn page will likely not be enough to succeed in that endeavor. Instead, you need a focused, targeted strategy specifically designed to leverage the medium for non-dues revenue growth.
The Basics of Social Media
You might already know why social media is so important for your association. We now spend more than 2 hours on our favorite networks every day, while more than two thirds of American adults have an active presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, or another platform. Naturally, getting your association in front of your audience necessitates finding the same channels they use.
At the same time, no one logs into Facebook or Twitter specifically for the branded and promoted content. They want to connect with friends, and engage with the content most relevant to them. These two truths (ubiquity and a general dislike of promotional content) are important to keep in mind as we run through the ways in which social media can help you grow your revenue as an association.
Social Media’s Role in Event Management and Promotion
Many associations grow non-dues revenue primarily through major conferences and events. Through attendance fees and sponsorship opportunities, these events can raise significant funds that go toward the organization’s growth and success. However, that can only be possible when enough people (and sponsors) actually know about it and attend.
If you’re hosting events, you probably already have a marketing strategy in place for your existing members. But what about non-members? Through social media, you can run ads specifically targeted to them. Networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, in fact, offer incredibly specific targeting possibilities that range from interests to job titles and education. The potential result is a more comprehensive strategy, designed to attract both members and non-members.
How Social Media Can Improve Your Professional Development Opportunities
Similar to events, social media can also help to promote your remote professional development opportunities, such as certifications and webinars. At the same time, the possibilities of the medium also go beyond mere promotion. In fact, your efforts can help you determine exactly what types of opportunities your audience is looking for, and adjust your strategy accordingly.
For instance, you can use Facebook or Twitter to gather feedback before and after events. Were the topics covered relevant, and what would your audience most like to see in the future? The intelligence gathered as a result can help not just provide ideas, but implement ideas that already have pre-existing buy-in from your audience.
Leveraging the Medium for Advertising Opportunities
Finally, don’t underestimate the potential power of sponsorship opportunities. For instance, you can offer companies looking to reach your members the opportunity to provide content for a post on your social media outlets. Another alternative is running Facebook lead ads that collect opt-ins for further sponsored messages either from you or a corporate partner.
In this area, you have to be careful. Emphasizing sponsored messages too much can easily drive away your audience, diminishing the impact of your other social media efforts as a result. At the same time, when you find the right balance, it can be a powerful opportunity to vary the content while building an additional revenue stream.
Three Crucial Mistakes to Avoid on Social Media
All of the above can be vital ways to help you leverage social media to your advantage. At the same time, even earnest tries do not always lead to success. In fact, if you’re not careful, you can still go wrong and actually prompt negative reactions from your audience. To keep the tender balance between achieving your revenue goals and a good-natured audience, avoid these three crucial mistakes.
1) Targeting the Wrong Audience
Sending a message to an audience that doesn’t care is the digital equivalent of shouting into the void. On social media, even the best content doesn’t matter if you don’t know how to make sure it reaches the right audience. Know exactly who you want to engage, find the networks they use most, and design a message specifically to appeal to them.
2) Getting too Promotional
Don’t forget that social media would be meaningless without the social component of it. If you get too promotional, you risk violating the core purpose of the channel, and alienating your audience. Sure, some promotional content (such as the above-mentioned event promotions and sponsored posts) is acceptable. Make sure you keep it below 20% of your total content output to minimize your risks.
3) Moving Away From Your Mission
Finally, don’t get tempted by the immense possibilities of social media. It’s easy to go on a tangent, or want to accomplish multiple things at once. But in reality, only focused approaches truly succeed. Before every post, think about what you want to accomplish, and how it connects to your association’s mission. This continual focus on your core purpose will keep you on track and your audience engaged.
Are You Ready to Prioritize Growing Your Non-Dues Revenue?
Membership dues now account for less than 50% of total revenue for most associations. Where are you getting the rest of your funds? Answering that question can be complex – but when done right, social media is the perfect platform to navigate through the complex web of non-dues revenue tactics.
The same medium can help you increase event attendance, gain scholarship dollars, and improve your professional development opportunities. But you have to do it right if you want to be successful. Are you ready to prioritize growing your non-dues revenue? With the right association membership software and a strong social media strategy in place, you’re already on the right track.