On my drive home last night, I noticed a billboard for a local ER. It encouraged folks to text to find out their average wait time. Two problems with this – if you are in need of an ER are you really going to get out your phone and text to perform a “wait time” comparison on all the local ERs and two, if you get out your phone and text while driving on a very busy highway aren’t you in danger of needing an ER sooner than you originally thought?
Was the hospital really accomplishing what it wanted to through this message? (Maybe if they wanted more accidents to create more “traffic” for its ER!) Or did the hospital just want people to think of them and short wait times? A billboard encouraging texting alongside a busy highway may not have been the best way to communicate this message.
In a world where we are hit with countless marketing messages; where we can’t even log into a “social” network without seeing plugs from our friends and family for everything from nonprofit donation requests to “I just bought x on Y site for $2.99,” we’ve become so accustomed to tuning out that it’s easy for your message to get lost in the din. It’s important, now more than ever, to have a targeted message conveyed in the way that best reaches your audience/members and furthers your mission or goals.
But before you get depressed about the impossibility of being heard over everything — and everyone — else, think about how valuable social media tools can be. Sure at first glance there is a lot of ruckus in the social sphere — a lot of talk about the weather and food that was just eaten. But upon a deeper dive and with the help of a few simple reporting tools, you can figure out more than just what errands your members have run. With social media tools and reporting, integrated into your online community, you can run surveys on event preferences; track top posters to your community; listen to what members, and potential members, are interested in; view their activity history; even use queries to isolate giving and dues payment data. With an online community like ours you’ll have this information at your finger tips with a couple of quick clicks from your executive dashboard. Your members’ activity is what fuels these reports giving a business purpose to social networking activity.
However, if you’re not using this data to customize your offerings and tailor your message you’re wasting a prime opportunity for member engagement. Ask members (whether actively or through reporting) what they want AND customize your events/messaging accordingly. Social has spoiled us. We all want what we want when we want it and we want it customized to our preferences. Members demand to be heard, acknowledged and treated as individuals — after all, just because they share a profession or industry does not mean that they share the same preferences. Fortunately with social networking powering membership software, it’s easy for you to “individualize” your approach, offerings and message. Of course, by analyzing your members’ social media activities you’re still going to hear a lot about what people had for lunch but now you can turn this trivial mention into the fare for your next event!