There’s a great article in Associations Now this month about content strategy. So many of us have fallen prey to the idea that social media means spur of the moment reactions and interaction to what we see on the Web. While that may be true for building relationships and connections, your association marketing and organization’s content should not be left to chance. Planning is still your best tool to achieving the desired message and maximizing efficiency.
As an association, you are viewed as a go-to resource for industry information and trends. You may be hosting international conferences, publishing industry journals and/or lobbying Washington on behalf of your mission. Those serious business tasks should not be undertaken with the same cavalier manner that Ashton Kutcher tweets. You’re looking to accomplish two very different things. Most associations have editorial calendars and content strategy for their published materials, but this article suggests you should have something in place for your social media messages as well.
Joanna Pineda, founder and CEO of the interactive agency Matrix Group, defines content strategy as “a plan that covers content, tone, topics, and frequency across all communications channels, whether it’s your website, print newsletter, online journal, social media, emails, Facebook or YouTube.” When each platform is broken down like this it’s easy to see why it is essential as an association to ensure that all of your communication methods are coordinated. For instance, if you have an intern doing your tweets in that carefree, albeit sometimes humorously snarky way of hers, and your emails are done by the Executive Director’s secretary who was around at the inception of the association, you will (potentially) have very different tones and messages. So different, that your members may be wondering who the communication is actually from. Has someone gone rogue? Plus, if a potential member is attracted (or turned off, for that matter) to the intern’s pithy pluckings on Twitter and joins thinking that’s what your entire organization is like, they may not stick around when they realize that was just a one-off and not indicative of your association’s culture. If, however, your marketing group (or whatever individual in your organization guides your communications) puts together some content and editorial guidelines, every member reading your communique will know it’s from you and get a feel of what your association represents and how it conducts itself.
The article has some interesting tips on getting started and fitting social media into the plan as well as setting up some measurable goals. I like that the article points out associations should give some thought as to which social media platforms best fit their organization and message. That’s important. A past blog post of ours, Managing Multiple Social Networks , advised the same thing.
I’m sure there are folks who will find this advice limiting, siting that social media activities should be impromptu and reacting to the topic at hand. In social media, there should always be room for responding to what’s going on around you. Content strategy is merely knowing what your mission is and keeping it in mind before anyone communicates outwardly. It’s a guiding beacon of sorts. It’s how people will recognize you.