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6 Online Engagement Hacks for Association Professionals

6 Online Engagement Hacks for Association Professionals

Member engagement is top-of-mind for most association professionals. But when it comes to actually making that happen, well, roadblocks often occur. Sometimes what we THINK will appeal to members and potential members doesn’t, and we’re left scratching our heads.

Engagement is tough - we get it. So to help you out, we’ve put together six online engagement hacks for association professionals:

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What Hollywood’s Award Season Can Teach Us About Association Event Planning

Posted by Callie Walker

Hollywood Award Season.jpg

Award season is officially here. It started off with the Golden Globes last week, and soon will be the SAG Awards, the People’s Choice Awards, the Grammy Awards, and the Oscars (upon many others).

Now I’ll be the first to admit, I’m a SUCKER for award season. I love the red carpets, the timely tweets, the speeches - everything. Which got me thinking: How do these networks get people (like me) so excited about events that they’re not even attending? And more importantly, how can associations incorporate those tactics to get their members (and potential members) excited about events?

Here are a few things we can learn from Hollywood’s award season:

1. Real-time is mesmerizing (and platform individuality matters)

The first thing I realized while watching the Golden Globes was that real-time marketing and promotion is FASCINATING. I was watching the red carpet on E!, and they kept emphasizing how everything was happening live, and not just on TV, but on social media and their mobile app as well. And what was really cool was that they had something special to offer on each platform. For example, on social media, they were using Twitter’s new livestreaming feature and conducting separate interviews than those taking place on TV. And then on their mobile app, they had a 360 feature that allowed users to span the entire red carpet and look at what they wanted to look at, regardless of what was on TV.

Did I tune into all three? You betcha. And so there are really two lessons here for associations. First is that real-time action really is exciting. If you’re able to livestream your association’s event (or at least parts of it), you’re giving attendees (and non-attendees) another opportunity to engage with you. You may want to consider interviewing your speakers, your sponsors, and/or your attendees. If you do a one-minute live video with your sponsors, that could be an added benefit to your association’s event sponsorship package. Or, if you conduct live interviews with your attendees (asking them what they’re favorite sessions are, what they love most about the conference, etc.), you could save those videos and use them to promote that same event next year.

Now the second lesson is this: If you want attendees to use different platforms and engage with you on different platforms, it’s crucial that you offer something unique on each platform. Consider providing quick, one-minute live videos on Twitter, and something entirely different (such as a simple scheduling or pre-registration feature) on your mobile app. The more the two vary, the more likely people are to use both.

2. Hashtags are the key to social media success

The root of social media success, whether it be for one of Hollywood’s red carpets or your association’s annual event, is hashtags. Hashtags are how users interested in a particular topic find each other. The whole world could be tweeting about the Golden Globes, but if they’re not using the Golden Globes hashtag, those tweets aren’t going to be seen.

For that reason, E! (and all of the other networks participating in the event) let people know in advance what the hashtag is going to be. Then, as the event is taking place, they keep referencing the hashtag and placing it in prominent places (in this case, on the bottom of the TV screen). Your association can do this as well. Come up with a unique hashtag for your event, then include it in all of your promotional materials (your emails, your direct mail pieces, on signs at the event, etc.). The more you promote it, the more likely people are to actually use it.

3. Post-event marketing works (and it’s how you can keep the momentum going)

One of the most fun things about award season is talking about it with friends/coworkers the next day. Talking about who wore what, who won what, and who said what - it’s exciting! Networks understand that, and they use that to their advantage. Ever take a look at the blog posts the next day? The best dressed/worst dressed lists? The top five moments EVERYONE’S talking about? I do! And that’s something your association can pick up on/embrace.

Consider putting together a few blog posts following your association’s event. Topics could be:

  • The Top 5 Moments from Conference XYZ
  • 5 Things We Learned at Conference XYZ
  • Highlights from Conference XYZ (You could even link back to some of your social media videos here)

Posts like this are good for keeping the momentum going (even post-event) and engaging people who may have not been able to attend. Plus, if those non-attendees like what they read, they might be more inclined to attend next year.

So there you have it. A few important lessons from Hollywood’s award season. They definitely know what they’re doing! Want more tips for planning and promoting your association’s next event? Check out our complete guide to Association Event Planning below!

Using Events to Attract Members Guide

Topics: association management, member engagement, membership management, Small Staff Chatter

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Using Events to Attract Members Guide

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