Association Communications Benchmarking Series

A Strong Social Media Strategy Starts with the Basics

By Victoria Maldonado • November 2, 2021

Social media strategy is so much more than a posting a photo and replying to comments – it is both an art and a science. Having a strong strategy for social channels can bring awareness to your association, your message, and your mission.

Social media is a key piece of your larger communications puzzle. Having a strong social media strategy will help you communicate with current followers and gain new ones by facilitating a two-way conversation with your audience, but you must be intentional about your interactions on social media and plan for success.

That said, just 38% of association executives strongly agree that social media is a high priority, and only 25% believe their social media strategy is well-defined, according to the 2021 Associations Communications Benchmarking Report.

Building a social media strategy – and then keeping focus on and following through on said strategy – will create clarity around your association’s goals and communicate to your audience how they can help achieve your objectives. Associations that engage their members and followers on social media see more interaction with and content sharing that leads to organic growth. A fully developed, consistent social media strategy increases your digital presence and benefits your communication tools through promotion and repurposed content.

Here are four aspects of your social media strategy to take a closer look at today.

  1. Evaluate your social media platforms and find the right fit.

Knowing where your audience is within the digital world is imperative to the success of your social media strategy. Start by looking at the demographics of your members and traffic analytics from your current accounts. When you survey members, make sure to ask them for their feedback about their social media expectations, including both where and how often they want to hear from you. Typically, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are among the most used social media sites by professionals. LinkedIn could also be a popular choice as well since many of your members are likely already on the site and utilize its networking and job-seeking features. Stick to sites where your members already have a presence where possible vs. asking them to join a new platform.

  1. Consider your feed’s aesthetics.

The best place to start is by brainstorming what you want your account to look like, how it fits into your association’s brand, and how it ties back to the purpose of your account. Is your account meant to target specific segments of your audience (student members or young professionals, prospective members, etc.)? Should your feed contain images of people only or do you want to tie in text and graphics? Will your feed post image and graphics in a specific pattern? Using a physical calendar or online platforms like Airtable, Monday, and Sprout Social, just to name a few, to plan content will help you keep a more consistent feed aesthetic while ensuring that meaningful content and new is shared with followers on a regular basis. Online platforms are a great way to plan ahead and to keep track of content that you have previously posted. It’s beneficial to see the gaps in content so you can think big picture and see what you would like to include.

Another thing to consider is what filter, if any, do you want on your feed? Some accounts will post all photos using a filter so that their feed has a specific color tone. This will create and sustain your association’s branding. It will allow members to see specific colors and graphic types and associate them with the association. Using a graphic design platform like Canva is a great way to stay consistent with the branding.

After figuring out the aesthetic of your feed, establishing your posting pattern is next. Some options are making feed posts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and story posts Tuesdays and Thursdays, posting every other day, and posting once a week. Consistency in your timing is key, not necessarily posting as often as possible. Take into consideration what’s sustainable with your association’s current staffing levels and volunteer resources. In the 2021 Benchmarking Report, 45% of association executives told us their social media teams are understaffed, which is a factor to keep in mind as you determine how much time your association invests social media on a daily or weekly basis.

  1. Plan for interactive content that leads to engagement.

There are a variety of ways to engage followers with interactive content. This can be done through feed posts with captions that include a call-to-action for followers to comment, like or share a specific post or give feedback.

Instagram Stories and Reels are a platform-specific option that’s particularly good for associations wanting to integrate more video into their communications. You can ask your audience questions, create a poll, feature a this-or-that slide show, share locations or links, and other informal and fun ways to interact. Stories can also easily cater to new projects and concepts without destroying the feed aesthetic so it’s also a good way to test new ideas and designs.

Hashtags are another way to create interactive content across most social media platforms, including fairly newer ones like TikTok. Even better, they can encourage user-generated content by your members that your association can share and promote. User-generated content is a great way to allow your audience to be a part of your association’s branding and image.

  1. Do your research and deliver content your audience wants to see.

Looking at analytics and insights for each specific social media platform will tell you about your audience and what they want to see. You will be able to see what they like and engage with, times they are most active, and see what content is most popular.

This is where the science of social media comes in … you can use all of this data to your advantage. Times when the audience is most active is super useful when scheduling posts because it will lead to an increase in all other insights related to the post. If a specific hashtag leads to a lot of engagement and unique impressions by non-followers that might be something to continue as well to grow your audience.

Audience engagement and interaction are key to success across all social media platforms, so get started today by building a foundation that will help your grow your social media strategy into the future.

About The Author

Victoria Maldonado is a content strategist intern with Naylor Association Solutions.