Chapters Can Leverage Social Media

It began with a simple question asked by a chapter: how can we – with limited dollars and limited resources – get into social media? Generally the response back is to simply start a Facebook group.
KiKi L’Italien and I decided that it’s not that simple – but then it’s not all that complicated either. Our conversation led to a session at ASAE 09 Annual Meeting “Adding Power to Member Communities with Social Media” where we shared our simple formula for getting chapters – and any component – engaged in using social media.

Kiki, who is chapter and student services manager at the Optical Society of America, has used, YouTube (check out two examples from her chapter contest!, LinkedIn, Facebook and more with her chapters. I’ve also used Wikispaces, Google Groups, Yahoo Groups and GoToMeetings to power our chapters.
Does it take a plan and effort? Yes. But there are rewards:increased community; increased effectiveness (which includes efficiency) in communications; better decision making from the data you collect; the ability to share documents and facilitate discussion; and of course the potential to gain members, registrants, and retention.

There’s a big reward for national associations too. Helping components find the right social media strategy provides an incredible opportunity to build a partnership with the component. With this comes the ability to open doors for other partnerships and for data sharing, co-learning and more. It can begin with helping your member community build a strategy using these 5 steps we shared during our session:

  1. Be Clear on the Why
    Determine a Goal to Reach For … start small, think bigger.
    Start by picking a focused project: e.g., creating conference buzz; building a knowledge base; facilitating a work group; sharing photos.
    National’s Coaching Opportunity: Help chapters set measurable metrics that they can achieve & celebrate like creating buzz as measured by # of fans, # of LinkedIn subgroup members; # of blog posts, # of subscribers to webpage feed, blog feed.
  2. Know the Who
    Understand Your Main Audience … are they already there? What grabs their interest?
    Go where they are already! Poll members or compare your email lists against user lists on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
    National’s Coaching Opportunity: Share with chapters what you know about members nationally including what issues they care about (to build engaging content!); motivations for connecting; ways they connect; social media usage patterns.
  3. Tally Your Resources
    You need enthusiastic members, a good coach (that’s where the national org can come in!).
    Begin with a social media team with a champion & talent pool.
    National’s Coaching Opportunity: Be one of their resources! Offer webinars on setting up Facebook, Twitter etc.; encourage chapters to share their links & stories; actively promote social media efforts of all chapters; create award for creative social media programs.
  4. Get in the Know
    Take the time to learn the tools and understand the community.
    Do your homework – listen, learn, practice (okay it’s really play!), launch.
    National’s Coaching Opportunity: Share ideas; consider creating a space where members can try out tools, follow Twitter searches or feeds that help understand members and social media community.
  5. Jump In
    With a plan mapped out, give it a go!
    Be sure to ask the folks you connect with what worked & didn’t work; then tweak.

National’s Coaching Opportunity: Help each chapter develop content & an action plan that leverages tools and focuses on community.
During our session we also did an instant make-over for a chapter which I’ll share in another post. And we’re continuing the conversation in our Facebook “Adding Power to Member Communities with Social Media” page. Plus you can view the power point presentation on SlideShare and download the full handout here.
Let me leave you with a right on point piece of advice from a wise social media guru Lindy Dreyer (she probably hates that description):“simple, focused social media is better for a small group than trying to do too much all at once.”