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Business Posts

5 Ways to Overcome a Social Media Rut

If you hashtag, filter, comment and like on a daily basis, I can safely bet that you don’t want to read another article about how to use social media. It’s 2016, anyway. Next thing you know, researchers will start saying social media is a motor skill for toddlers.

But there are times when–in the midst of our social media routines–engagement slows and we find ourselves struggling to get out of a merry-go-round of boring content. How do you, a brand manager, push past this? How can you re-energize a brand and produce great content when you’ve dotted every “i” and crossed every “t”? Most importantly, how can your brand be different in a sea of sameness?

If and when you reach this point, try not to throw in the towel and disparage everything you’ve worked hard to build. Slow periods of growth are a normal part of managing social media in the digital age. Approach your branding with a different angle.

Here are five ways how:

  1. instagram photo for AM blogRemind yourself of the brand objectives. As brand managers, we live and breathe our brand, but do our customers or members? It’s important to go back to this question and talk through brand objectives to make sure your customer can identify with the content you produce. Ask yourself: Why does my brand matter? (And who does it matter to?) It may seem like a frivolous task, but we all need refreshers, and making an effort to do this can go a long way. Then, as you plan content, relate everything back to your brand objectives.
  2. Gather your inspiration list. If you haven’t identified brands you admire (this doesn’t only mean competitors), then you’re ten steps behind. You should be observing your list on a weekly basis and asking yourself how you can apply their approach to your own content. Think of it as your digital inspiration board. You’re not copying content; instead you’re keeping up with what’s trending and figuring out how you can tap into it in a different way. Also, if you need help staying in the know with more than just the social world, read these tips.
  3. Reach out to your brand community. Social media content does not only have to be original content (e.g. quotes, articles, etc). That’s why we call it “social” media. Reach out to people you admire, supporters, partners, followers, etc (re: #2 on this list). Tweet at them, tag them in a Facebook status, comment on an Instagram. The key to engagement and a successful social platform is to give as much as you receive. People want to follow brands that go the extra mile to reach out.
  4. Scale back your posts and spend time delivering content that matters. This one might seem contrary to a good social strategy. Too often, we push out content for the sake of getting our name out there. While there are certain instances where this is okay, don’t just post to post. If you need to tweet once a day or post to Facebook less, do it. Figure out what works and then slowly add more content once you get the hang of it.
  5. When in doubt, make people laugh. Theres only so much media a person can absorb before they want to disengage. In a world where news headlines are heavy, be a light to your community and make people laugh. Even if you think your brand does not have this capacity, it does. Post a funny GIF, knock-knock joke or Buzzfeed article. If youre in a niche market, post an inside joke that only your community gets. Be quirky, be real and be tactful.

Every brand will have its ups and downs. What’s important is that you figure out your game plan when things get slow, your boss isn’t loving what you produce or you have a gut feeling that something’s amiss.

My final advice? Hire experts who can help you navigate and grow your brand to its full potential (e.g. social media/marketing firm). It is an investment that will return tenfold because not only do agencies know social media trends, but they are on the cusp of all that’s happening in the world. Their goal is to help brands stay fresh and innovative. You win, they win.

Of course, you might have your own ways of overcoming a social media rut. If you think we should know about it, we’d love to hear it. Tweet at us (@AssocMarketer + @daviesanddixon)!

 

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Strategic Planning for Your Association

When was the last time you took a good, hard look at your association’s business plan? Now that we’re halfway through the year (can you believe it?!), it’s time to see what you have accomplished so far. By looking at what your plans were for this year and evaluating results up to this point, you can see what has worked and what hasn’t, helping you to make key decisions and adjustments for the second half of the year. In reality, best practices for marketing and overall association management are constantly changing. By looking ahead and developing a strategy, you will be able to make necessary adjustments in a time-conscience manner. Below are some practices to consider as you begin strategizing for the second half of the year.

Take a Goal-Oriented Approach

When planning for the future of your association, it’s incredibly important to take a goal-oriented approach. With tools and trends constantly changing, the first step is making an assessment of your current strategy. Researching new technology, the outside market, and competitors will help you surpass competition. Once research is completed, you can begin positioning your association and setting goals for the upcoming months. Come up with the direction that you want your association to take. Think about where you really need to improve. Whether it’s increasing membership levels or delivering more value-added benefits, make sure that you have a main focus.

Create a Strategic Business Plan

Once goals are set, it’s imperative to create a detailed strategic business plan. In doing so, you’ll be able to form a step-by-step guide targeted at achieving results. Begin by taking what you have already completed for research, and compile specific tactics aimed at your goals. The elements within your strategic plan should all be driven by underlying elements, including:

  • Financial plan, allowing you to project what your expenses will be in pro-forma statements.
  • Marketing plan, which should identify key communication, promotional, and lead generating tactics for your association.
  • Membership goals and strategies, indicating projected new members, along with methods for improving numbers.
  • Timeline & summary of key events, which will give you a high level outline of what the upcoming months will look like.
  • Roles and responsibilities, providing the necessary insights into what resources are required in order to achieve the desired results.
  • Measurement techniques. Remember you need to measure, monitor, and continually improve your efforts based on analysis.

Focus on Your Members

Not only is it important to make sure everything is running smoothly internally, it’s also essential to make sure members remain satisfied. Keeping your existing members happy is what truly matters for your association. They must come first and remain a top priority for your association every step of the way during the strategic planning process. By creating a satisfaction survey and sending it out to members, you will be able to see clear insights and feedback. This will not only help improve relationships, but it will also help you gain new members for the second half of 2016 and beyond. Showing members that you value their opinion is one key recommendation in an effort to maintain and grow.

Update Your Competitive Value Proposition

Lastly, developing an updated competitive value proposition will help set your association apart from others. Research what competitors are offering, and really try to get a grasp on why potential members may veer towards joining a different organization. By performing this due diligence, you will be able to update your messaging to state why your association provides more value. Ensure that your strategy encompasses methods for proving value to members, whether it be case studies, testimonials, or other methods of showing member satisfaction.

Now, keep these tips in mind and think about this: Is your association ready for the second half of this year? It might be tempting to say “yes, last year the second half of the year was successful, so I’ll continue on this path for the rest of 2016.” In reality, however, this is a dangerous mindset. Not adapting to the evolving marketing and overall business model landscape is a sure-fire way to see a decline in membership levels. Ultimately, updating your strategic plan is the best way to ensure a healthy and productive future.

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The Best Sources to Stay on Top of Marketing News

Anyone in the social media-marketing world knows that it can be difficult to turn your phone on silent, or go without it for a day. While we may have the luxury of working remotely, our devices are our desks, and those stay with us far beyond the typical hours of 9 to 5. The reality is social media does not sleep and our job, as marketing professionals, is to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

AM_Guest_062016So, what’s the secret to staying ahead of the game? Believe it or not, the answer is simple. Your source is everything – and most likely, you’re going to utilize more than one. (This will ensure that you’ve covered all your bases.) Sure, you could simply pick up a newspaper, or keep refreshing Twitter, but nobody, especially marketing professionals, has time for that. To help you be as efficient as possible, I’ve shared several apps and tools that effectively function as a news/media “strainer” – meaning everything you’re reading and absorbing will have significance. And while the news you need to know, and post about, certainly depends on your overall social media strategy, here are my favorite ways to find out what’s making headlines:

  1. New York Times Alerts

    This app will send you a notification when something major has just occurred. The Alerts serve as a warning for breaking news and what will soon be trending on all social media platforms. For instance, I woke up to a New York Times Alert on Sunday morning, June 12th, which read, “At least 50 are dead in the shooting at a gay nightclub in Florida, officials say; the shooter is identified as Omar Mateen.” Seeing this first thing Sunday morning gave me some time to try and process what had happened. I think it is important to get news like this from a highly credible source, especially as it unfolds, as opposed to finding out inadvertently on Facebook, Twitter or from friends.

  2. Refinery29 This AM

    Download this free app and find out the “8 Things You Need To Know This AM.” They cover everything from the Zika virus to campaign trail updates – and even that day’s most significant Entertainment news, like Justin Bieber’s new face tattoo. (I think the daily Entertainment piece is provided as comedic relief.)

  3. theSkimm

    This is an email newsletter that will arrive in your inbox first thing in the morning. In their words, “it makes it easier to be smarter.” And in my words, theSkimm is like the storytelling version of the Refinery29 app. If you’d like to read a quick summary alongside the daily headliners, this is the app for you. Vanity Fair called theSkimm “a must-have survival guide for any professional.” I definitely recommend trying it out. Even if you just skim theSkimm, you will get quick insight into the world today. By the way, you can now download Skimm Ahead, which will tell you what’s coming up; in other words, you’ll be in the loop before the loop exists.

Unlike the apps and email subscriptions listed above, these are more specific tools to help keep you in the know…

  1. Google Alerts

    This tool has been around much longer than some of the other apps I’ve mentioned; yet, it is still a relevant and valuable method of communication. Google Alerts can keep you notified in real-time about your clients and industry trends. Use this to track any time your client or company is mentioned so that you can immediately react. An email will hit your inbox to notify you and from there, your team can make moves.

  2. Twitter Lists

    Develop a Twitter list, private or public, with relevant news sources and/or influencers/thought leaders for your industry. Creating lists means having a curated feed. I recommend scrolling through this feed for a few minutes a day to discover relevant, trending stories to you or your client’s industry.

  3. Meltwater – Your Social Sidekick

    This email subscription tool will be delivered to your inbox each week. It will not inform you of breaking news, but lists a variety of things happening that month, as well as a dated summary of famous birthdays, national food days/holidays and even TV premieres. For instance, who knew today, Monday, June 20th is Vanilla Milkshake Day? Well, actually I do…because I subscribe to Meltwater’s Social Sidekick.

No one likes to feel left out when your co-workers talk about the latest headlines or today’s bizarre, but hilarious “National Food Day.” Adopting just one of these strategies will ensure you never receive the dreaded “have you seen this yet?” email ever again.

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Online Marketing: Tools You Need to Succeed

It’s no secret that the Internet has well, taken off. So my question to you now is, how developed are your online marketing tactics?

With almost 300 million people using the Internet in the United States alone (according to Internet Live Stats), I hope your answer is very.

Yes, I know there are so many options and offers floating around out there. They are all intended to help you and your association drive traffic to the website and generate leads through inbound tactics, but the question is, what is right for you?

Unfortunately, in today’s hard and fast world of information, there is no shortcut to marketing your website online. If you want your association’s website to get the kind of attention that draws members to your services, you have to develop a basic strategy with three core fundamentals.

Successful Online Marketing

The path to successful online marketing begins with an understanding of these modern marketing essentials:

  1. Search engine optimization
  2. Content marketing
  3. Social media marketing

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO_scribbleSEO is the practice of organically boosting the visibility of your website on search engines. With Google and YouTube as the top search engines of the time, it is important to research how your site can cater to the preferred means of optimization for these engines.

There are many tactics and best practices to enhance the ranking of your website. A few that I strongly suggest are:

  • Precise, one-of-a-kind page titles
  • Better quality page structure
  • Rich, genuine, appropriate keywords on all pages
  • Backlinks from respected websites
  • Consistently updated, relevant content that is shared
  • Images and videos rich with important words and descriptions

Basically, constructing a firm SEO strategy starts by providing genuinely sold content that incorporates keywords pertinent to the content you have chosen. It takes time and genuine effort to maintain a search engine’s endorsement, but through content sharing, keywords, and a great site you could become successful through your SEO practices.

It is said that almost all searchers click on the first site that appears on the search engine, so if your website is how you intend to grow your association, SEO is pretty important!

Content Marketing

Before the days of web surfing, finding your prospects was your job and your job alone. But now, everything has changed. It is your job to make it so that your prospects can find you.

How do you do this?

Through providing valuable, genuine, relevant content! Nobody wants to be told what they should do and why, not when a world of information is available at their fingertips. That’s why you need to provide content that shows your potential and current members why your services are right for them.

Online content can be many things. A few ideas for you are:

  • Blogs
  • White papers
  • Podcasts
  • Educational videos

Keep in mind that search engines like Google monitor content, so as previously mentioned, creating and acquiring genuine content is a process that takes time and effort. As a marketer for your association it should be your intention, regardless of shortcuts, to provide authentic, germane content in the name of the services you provide.

people_talkingSocial Media Marketing

Once you have your content and SEO packaged neatly, apply a social media strategy to tie it together. It is important to know that search engines take the number of likes and shares of a page into consideration when ranking.

Also, consider why it is called ‘social’ media. Regardless of the number of fans or followers you have, without interaction your efforts are meaningless. In order to be successful with search engines, the content you provide can’t be dormant. Active engagement and sharing is absolutely required in order to boost your ranking through social media. Besides, search engines aside, these networks give you the opportunity to communicate with your current and potential members the way they want.

To sum it up, if you want to be successful in today’s marketplace, the Internet is where you need to be. Yes, it’s different from the generation running the workforce today and the previous generation, but it’s impossible to deny that this form of communication is now the driving factor of commerce in most countries throughout the world.

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Why a Brand Must Have Social Style

Trendy. Exotic Bohemian. Preppy. Cowgirl. Punk. Artsy. Tomboy. Sporty. These are a few of the popular fashion styles we, as a society, might use today. After reading that list, I’ll bet at least one stuck out to you as a style you’ve worn before. Our mood can change our fashion style often, but overall, we gravitate toward a staple style that we are comfortable with in our daily wear.

Like fashion trends, social media has been evolving and testing new “platforms” for more than 10 years now. However, there are certain priorities that remain constant, like staple fashion pieces, and that’s a brand’s social style.

Makenzie_Davies_Image_051616If you’re unfamiliar with what social style means, here’s the short and sweet version: It’s the style of your social profiles combined with the aesthetic of the images you post.

Design elements will shape how and if people engage with your brand. People typically don’t prefer to associate with brands who don’t look the part. For example, an avid hiker is more likely to purchase his or her equipment from the brand whose social style best reflects his or her lifestyle and personality. This comes down to style of images published but also the personality behind the content, which can also reflect that overall “social brand style.”

As social media and digital marketing evolves, brands are starting to pay more attention to what their brand image looks like. Here are four tips from our corner to help a brand enhance its visual image.


Act bigger than you are. If you’re a small brand, you don’t need to call yourself out with poor design. Make sure your social media profiles have cohesive brand imagery; the cover photos and profile photos should all look like they were posted by the same “person.” It’s important to note that each social platform has different specs, so size your images appropriately. You don’t want parts of your images cut off. That’s tacky.

TIP: Pick one Instagram filter and stick to it. This brings consistency, among other considerations, to your Instagram. Take into account not only the individual photo quality, but your Instagram feed as a whole.


Use branded theme images. Do you publish quotes as part of your social strategy? If so, stick to a cohesive look when posting these quotes. That could mean incorporating your logo colors or brand fonts into the theme.  

TIP: Not a designer? That’s ok. Try Canva, a free and easy-to-use platform with template designs and formatted text, to help you get started.


Bring design to text. When people scan through their newsfeeds on their lunch break, you want to grab their attention. So do your competitors. What’s going to separate your tweet from the pack?

Add creative eye-catching symbols to your text like → My Domaine or toss in some personality with fun emojis to metaphorically make your point. You’ll get all the likes.

TIP: Do not overuse. No one likes an emoji junkie.


Add visual elements to your posts. With social platforms like Instagram, brands are more dependent on design appeal to capture the audience of each generation. When you scrolled through your personal Facebook in bed this morning, what grabbed your attention? Photos. Videos. More Photos. More videos.

Our eyes gravitate toward visual pieces and on social media that means pictures and videos. A person has an eight-second attention span and marketers have more competition today than ever before today – and it will only continue to increase. To captivate the attention you’re looking for, you need to understand the expectations of your social community. They want visuals.

 

TIP:  Add a photo or video to every post, particularly on Facebook because of the new algorithm rules. Don’t have enough pictures? Use Twenty20, one of our favorite stock photography websites that caters to the modern expectations of consumers.  


One final thought… All of these design tips will go to waste if a customer clicks from your Facebook page to your website and sees a disconnect (even if it is subconscious) in your design style. While you’re upgrading your website design, remember to make it mobile-friendly. Google changed the rules on us last year, and now all websites need to be mobile responsive to populate in a Google search.

| TIP |  Modernize it. Integrate clean lines, high-res images, call-to-actions and light yet informative content.

Like fashion, there are several styles to choose from and each of us gets to find our style identity. Brands are no different.

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