Post image for Association Social Media: Kelli Windsor, Food Marketing Institute

Association Social Media: Kelli Windsor, Food Marketing Institute

I had the great pleasure of moderating a panel of fabulous association social media managers at an Association Trends breakfast last month, where results were shared (and we opined on them) from the Association Social Media Benchmark Survey.  Here’s a snippet of my conversation with just one of several great association social media folks.  Don’t forget, if you do social media for an association or nonprofit and would like to be interviewed for SocialFish, contact me anytime.  We love to hear about what you guys are up to.


Please introduce yourself and your organization, and give us a two-minute version of your association’s social media strategy.

Kelli and RyderI’m Kelli Windsor, the manager for member and digital communications at the Food Marketing Institute. I oversee our digital communications strategy including social media, our blog, newsletter and website content. We are the trade association for the grocery industry and our social media strategy has two major goals.

First, we serve as the voice of food retail and use social media as a tool for sharing that voice. This includes using a blog and news app to talk about industry issues and trends and Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to amplify and share this content and other relevant content.

Second, we use social media to engage with the food retail industry. This may be engaging with individuals or companies along the supply chain about the trends, research, and stories of our industry.

What department do you sit in and who (title) do you report to?

Communications Department; Report to Senior Director of Media and Public Relations

Give me your reaction to something that was NOT a surprise from the report. 

I wasn’t surprised by the Association Trend’s report seeing a modest increase in overall engagement on LinkedIn by associations. I find LinkedIn’s platform difficult for our organization to use for a B2B conversation since it’s built so heavily on individual profiles or resumes. There is great potential there, but their engagement offerings make it difficult to use on a company to individual basis and I think that’s impacting the level of associations using it heavily.

Now, I’d like to know what DID surprise you. Something that relates to your situation or industry.

I was surprised by two things in the Association Trends report—the increase in Facebook usage and the decline in Twitter usage.  Facebook’s pay-to-play model is making it difficult for association content to get the reach it once did organically. Plus, I feel like everyone is always talking about how Facebook is on its way out and yet here is proof that is not happening for associations.

The Twitter decline is interesting since, at least for us as a trade association, Twitter is our strongest B2B social media tool. But I do have fears about Twitter going to more of a pay-to-play model and the impact that could have on associations.

Celebrating NFMM

Tell us what an average day looks like for you.

First thing in the morning I develop our daily internal office e-mail to staff. This includes 3 – 5 interesting news stories, some of which staff have submitted, a calendar of what is going on, and something fun at the bottom to grab people’s attention. This helps our team collect details of what is going on in the world of FMI and helps us better share content through all our digital communications platforms. It’s a widely popular e-mail for our organization.

Next, I set up our social media posts for the day using Hootsuite based on our blog posts, news items and any campaigns we have at the moment. I’ll check this periodically throughout the day to retweet, like or respond. We have several handles on Twitter, so I’ll monitor those, which are managed by different departments, and retweet or share content across platforms as appropriate.

The rest of my day may be spent in meetings on various digital communications strategies or campaigns. I also spend a lot of time working with our subject matter experts on blog content and developing digital communications campaigns to promote our resources and education conferences. A cross department group of staff meet twice a month as an editorial board to touch base on programmatic activities and overall content themes. And our social media account managers meet weekly to brainstorm and share priorities.

What’s been your association’s biggest social media win? How did you help make that happen…or continue the momentum?

Last year we underwent a project to better understand who is following us on social media. We worked with Bear Analytics and Culture That Works on a two part project. First we compared our Twitter following to our database contacts and painted a picture of what who is following us on social media.

Second, we did informational interviews with some of our members to develop personas. This process helped us adjust some of our pre-conceived notions about our target audiences and gave us a better understanding of the content our target audiences find most interesting.

The findings from this project have helped guide our social media strategy. For example, we learned that while food retailers might not engage with us on social media on research or trends, they would be interested in supporting campaigns that showcase the good grocery stores do and tell the industry story.

With that in mind, we used our annual Store Manager Awards as an opportunity for social media engagement by adding a category that was chosen by social media. The Store Manager Award People’s Pick contest ran for one week on Facebook and included 10 posts of the Store Manager Award finalists with photos and their story. The combined posts in the contest had nearly 5,000 likes in one week and reached more than 27,000 organically.

Store Manager Awards Facebook Post

We plan to continue to seek ways we can add social media elements to some of our awards programs, communications campaigns and storytelling efforts.

Everyone’s talking about engagement these days – what does that word mean to you in the context of your social media efforts?

Defining one’s audience is critical to generating quality engagement on social media. It helps you determine what content will be of interest and what people are willing to engage with you about. If you know them well, their communications style, and supplying good content, then engagement will come no matter what.

What advice do you have for someone looking to hire a dedicated social media staff person?

Social media staff need to be Mavericks. On any given day I’ll use my project management, writing, editing, web design, graphic design, media pitching, strategic planning, storytelling and even teaching skills. So having a well-rounded skillset is key and using that to constantly keep learning about the new resources and techniques is essential.

What’s your biggest challenge on a day-to-day basis?

Content, content, content!

What’s next? What are you working on to take your org to the next level?

For strategic digital communications, we’re looking at a redesign of our website in the coming year. We’re preparing for that by meeting internally with teams to better understand their program and communications goals and how digital communications—web, newsletters and social media—can help. In our redesign, we’re looking to have a much stronger social media integration on the site and enhanced storytelling.

Final words of wisdom?

Canva – best invention ever!


(photo credit)

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