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A Board-Level Approach to Social Media Strategy
It’s no longer a question of whether or not social media can help an association effectively communicate with its members, potential members and other constituencies. It’s now an accepted reality. But to achieve optimal results, board members must engage with their associations’ social media efforts at a level that allows them to guide overall strategy without requiring massive time investments.

The following are five things boards should consider when assessing their social media programs.

How does the association’s social media strategy align with its overall strategic plan? This is the most important aspect for board members, because it allows you to determine if the appropriate amount of time and resources are being dedicated to social media. For example, if the strategic goal is to serve both consumer and educator audiences, you could implement a social media strategy that allows you to do so efficiently.

Are you reaching the intended audiences? An effective social media strategy reaches the association’s target audiences on the platforms where they are the most active. By ensuring your staff takes into consideration your audience’s social media habits and preferences, you can increase the strategy’s effectiveness.

How can the board measure the success of the social media strategy? Views, clicks, likes, comments, shares — there are myriad ways to measure audience engagement on social media. Trust your staff’s social media experts to determine the appropriate metrics for measuring the return on investment (ROI) of the association’s social media activities, but be aware of whether or not the metrics are trending positively or negatively, and if goals are reached and growth is achieved over time.

Is the board publicly supportive of — and active in — the association’s social media activities? The support and engagement of board members helps set the tone for other volunteers and members. Each board member can participate however he or she believes is appropriate, with the level of interaction matching one’s comfort level. For example, if you’re more of a novice than a super-user, your engagement can be as simple as liking a post on Facebook or retweeting on Twitter. And don’t hesitate to reach out to your organization’s staff for support as needed.

Is the board using social media to highlight its vision for the association’s future? While social media can be useful for sharing news and updates about association events and programs, it can also be a great tool for delivering the board’s vision to its stakeholders. Direct the staff to share information about the board’s continuing work guiding the association, especially when new initiatives are launched.

Based on its understanding of what the association does and why it is doing it, a board also needs to determine how often it will discuss the social media strategy and make necessary adjustments. For some very fast-moving industries or business sectors, board reviews should be quarterly. But for most association boards, it works best to revisit social media annually as part of the strategic plan review. The board can then direct staff to reallocate resources at that time if necessary.
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JUNE 2016 EDITION
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Board Forward is published 10 times a year by SmithBucklin, the association management and services company more organizations turn to than any other. SmithBucklin has served volunteer board members for more than 60 years.

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