Do you work in the Communications Department?
We live in a world where anyone, anywhere, can sound off about anything at any time. Social media has created a culture of communication, where a single person can reach thousands–or even millions of people with no more effort than it takes to tweet. It’s a high risk, high reward environment for the communications team of any association. Social media demands a new approach from you. You are now co-creating your association’s brand and message alongside the members and stakeholders who talk about you online. And that’s a good thing for you and your career. You’re more than a contact on a press release–you’re a leader and a shaper.
You have an enormous responsibility. Every day, the organization’s reputation balances on the sentiment of external sources. And you’re the one who is uniquely experienced to sway that sentiment. You’ll be a Social CRM hero when you not only manage the risk of social media, but also use social channels to spread the word faster and farther than ever before. Given all of that, what can the communications team actually DO with social? What can YOU do to help your association get the most out of social? Everybody says you should be using social, but nobody tells you how. This is how.
SUBSCRIBE TO THE FULL “BE A SOCIAL CRM HERO” SERIES HERE. These are short, checklist-style handy guides that take you step-by-step through the steps to rock your social media activities for your particular department.
1. Monitor daily and respond quickly. Social media monitoring is a logical extension of the mainstream media monitoring your team already does. The problem is scale. Instead of monitoring a short list of major news sources, you need to find a way to efficiently monitor the entire social web. Make sure you report on the conversations you’re tracking. The challenge is triaging the firehose of information down to just those posts that are noteworthy–especially those that require action. Distributing a weekly (or even daily) report of noteworthy social media posts will do two vital things. First, it will give executives in your association confidence that social media monitoring and responding is well in hand. Second, it will demystify social for those in the organization who are not daily users, and make the whole thing less scary. Everyone will know that if something happens, you’re the expert who can handle it in stride. Facilitate responses from around the association. You are uniquely positioned as a kind of switchboard operator who can work across departments to get the best answers from the right people. And train your experts. You probably have a stable of experts to turn to for media responses. But are they prepared to respond in social?
2. Build relationships with talkers. By talkers, we mean people who post often and have large followings. You may already be concentrating on blogger relations. This is the next level, adjusting for the fact that microblogging (Twitter, for example) has become mainstream. Participate in conversations with your talkers. Put yourself–or an expert in your association–into the position to engage your talkers wherever they’re talking. That might be on Twitter. It might be their blog. It might even be your own private online community. Post comments on their blogs; quote and credit them. Once you’ve established a relationship, you’ll have the freedom to reach out to your talkers when you need help.
3. Manage the social media editorial calendar. As communications staff, you have the right skills to manage posting through your association’s social media channels so that you hit just the right frequency and tone. Integrate social media into your overall messaging strategy. Plotting an editorial calendar will help you ensure you’re pushing out messages at the right time to amplify other communications efforts. And post news, not press releases. Your social media audience will not read a press release. Resist the temptation to link to one. Instead, look for shareable ways to make announcements or release information. For example, you might post a YouTube video message from a board member, or an infographic from a new research report, or you might just make the announcement in a less formal interview you post on your association blog, news site, or private online community.
4. Teach staff to use social media responsibly. Take it from Benjamin Franklin, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Setting a clear social media policy–and teaching your fellow staff members and volunteer leaders how to apply the policies to their work–will save you from countless sticky situations. Start from a position of trust, and work not to prohibit, but to focus the social media work of your colleagues.
Want the full scoop with all the tactics to explain all of this? SUBSCRIBE TO THE FULL “BE A SOCIAL CRM HERO” SERIES HERE.
Social media is a vital part of association communications. You may already be doing some of this. And with a little planning and collaboration with your colleagues, you can manage social media risks while simultaneously reaching more people than ever before with your association’s message. Good luck, and have fun communicating in all new ways.