If I was managing an association, and I wanted to figure out the best way to get a focused and valuable social media program set up for the association – for both the congregation of membership and the individual members – I think I would approach it this way:
1) Prepare to Survey membership as to current use of social media. Information desired includes forms of social media that are currently used; their account ids for any social media currently used so that the association can provide a membership “directory”; and their value experiences with this forms of social media.
In this process, I’d try to get some value and usage membership information of the big social media options, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, and anything that I determined may have specific value for our organization.
One last piece I’d want to get on our members is an estimate of how much they access the web in a given week, and how much was from a computer or from a handheld.
2) Then I’d send the survey out via the web and email. I’d use SurveyMonkey or another of the reasonably priced online survey options to create the survey, and email the survey invitation to all members. (If you don’t have the email addresses of your membership, stop reading this now and work on a hardcopy version of collecting that because you should have done that long ago.) If there are members that stubbornly won’t provide email addresses or don’t have them, then they’re not part of this survey, since they’re not looking to be social within the structure of the association online anyways.
3) Then I’d look at the results and try to figure out the easiest target, in terms of social media application and membership interest, to build our association’s social media relationship with members. I recognize that it is in our association’s interest to have that relationship with members using social media, and I also recognize that most members probably aren’t nearly as convinced. If I start by confusing them, or wasting their time, then we’re probably worse off than before we started, because I’ve muted the interest.
So… we need a plan, based on data.
Now I know there are a lot of associations that didn’t do a social media survey before releasing their Facebook page and their Twitter feed and their blog. There are also plenty of 1000-3000 member associations with 100 fans of their Facebook page and 85 followers of their Twitter feed. There are plenty of association Twitter feeds that go months without a “tweet”, and similarly with association Facebook pages. Online member surveys are social media, too. It’s a way to start.
And for associations, there can be more involved that just building the “organizational” social media program – there can be the assistance in building the members’ social media programs as well. Helping them can help the entire organization as a whole, particularly if there are times they may want to “amplify” the association’s message by reposting the association’s message in their own social media program. Sometimes the best way to begin an association’s social media program could be to use social media in a way to help the members build their own. You won’t know your opportunities unless you measure. So start with the online survey.