Social media is a critical channel for associations looking to stay ahead in their effort to promote their programs. Social media is a two-way communication tool. Associations can engage with their audience in authentic and meaningful ways on a much higher frequency versus print brochures or email.
1. Identify The Best Platform(s)
Identifying the right platform to connect with your alumni or prospective applicants and organizations is key to the success of the engagement via social media channels. The demographic plays a pivotal role in making this decision. Social media channels like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are the top 3 channels to connect with your audience. Depending on the statistics and the current behaviour of your followers on these channels, it is best to determine which social media channel will work the best for the programs that you offer. For example, there is a huge opportunity to connect with academia in STEM on Twitter. This is quintessential to focus the effort in the right direction.
2. Create Relevant Content
Once the right social media channel has been identified, creating relevant content becomes the priority. It is advisable to use specific content for your targeted applicants. There are a lot of programs that various associations offer, and the content should be specific to how the program that you offer is unique. This is especially relevant in a social media marketing strategy because you are trying to get your audience to take action. You have to determine why your content is of value to your audience, enough so to inspire them to take that specific action whether it be to apply for the program, sign up for your newsletters, or become a member.
3. User-generated content
User-generated content is a distinct way to keep your existing members, association stakeholders and program alumni being part of your program’s marketing strategy. It also helps you to build long-lasting relationships with existing members and also create credible information around the programs that you offer. We all know the effectiveness of word-of-mouth marketing. User-generated content is nothing but giving a different spin to it and using social media to propagate it. This content can be in many forms:
- Reach out and work with members on a new blog series, or perhaps use a video from at an annual event or a meeting.
- Solicit content from your program alumni. They may have recently had journal articles or books published as a result of the opportunity that your program provided them. This is a win-win for your program by promoting your alumni on a distinguished social media channel (yours!) and it shows the credibility and value of your program and how it led to their accomplishments.
4. Engage Alumni
Your alumni can be the best brand advocates for your programs. Their experience and inputs regarding the programs like awards, grants, scholarships, or fellowships can be a great way to tell your prospective applicants about the differentiators and uniqueness of the program. Sharing the content in way of success stories, opinions, reviews, and testimonials gives more credibility to the program. This will, in turn, attract more engagement on your social media channel and attract more applicants.
5. Organic and paid reach using social media
Using an organic means of reaching out to potential applicants is great. Using the existing followers in your social media channels is the first step in your outreach program. Not all associations or non-profit organizations have a huge follower base. If you want to reach beyond your existing followers, paid advertising in social media is a good option.
- 71% of Americans between 18-24 use Instagram (Pew Research Center)
- 25-34-year-olds are the biggest segment of Facebook users in the U.S.(Hootsuite)
Using social media advertising to tap into this potential audience is an option if your associations have the budget and expertise in doing it. Alternatively, you can also reach out to a partner with these capabilities.
Questions about adding marketing to your program outreach? Contact us to learn more about leveraging social media for your association’s program outreach!