For Associations, Posting Content Is Not Enough

association content marketing imageMembership pro Frank Kenny explains content marketing through social media and why digital marketing is necessary to bridge the two.

Imagine that you create fantastic content regularly – it shouldn’t be much of a stretch – you’re likely already doing that.

You give a lot of thought to each piece you create. You keep your target audience in mind. You solve a problem or speak to a need. You post it on social media, remembering to add context, tag people, and include hashtags.

And you wait. You’ve been told all you need to do is create great content that speaks to your audience, inspires them, and educates them.

Done, done, and done.  And yet, no improvement in new membership sales.

So, you logically declare content marketing doesn’t work for your audience. They’re just not there yet.

The one problem is that this advice of:

  • Create the right content,
  • Gear it to ideal audience member,
  • Serve it up on the right platform

…doesn’t work well enough for associations. Nope. It doesn’t. Not by itself.

See, that formula works for people who have a wide audience. People who want to be industry experts, keynote speakers, and niche celebrities. They can create this content and wait for that phone to ring. For associations, there’s a disconnect.

Your audience is a lot smaller and more targeted than someone who wants to take the world by storm. Sure, if you had a worldwide audience, basic content marketing would generate leads, sales, sponsorships, and opportunities.

But you need more than awareness. You don’t just want people to be aware of your organization. You want them to join. So, you must build that bridge for people to maximize your results. The content gets them there. Now you must give them something to do.

What associations need to do to be successful in content marketing—and you can be wildly successful—is add digital marketing into the mix by:

  • Engaging with your audience on social media (and in person) to generate trust. No one will join until there is trust.
  • Collecting their contact information and asking for their permission to stay in touch.
  • Providing value and nurturing that relationship consistently through email. Social media is hit and miss. Email is either read or deleted. Big difference.
  • Posting some of your best content to your association website first, especially helpful articles and videos, and using social media to link back to it. Get traffic to your website.
  • Offering a frictionless joining experience so that potentials can become members without any hassles. Make it easy for them to join.
  • Emailing your subscribers an invite to join from time to time. Create a great offer. Rinse and repeat. Give, give, give, get.

The problem with leaving recruitment just up to content marketing and social media is that there’s nothing there to close the gap.

Instead, post helpful videos, images, and articles on your website first then bring them back to your site so they can get a better appreciation for what membership can do for their business. Connect and stay connected through association emails. Once they decide they want to be a part of it all, make it easy on them with a simple online form, not some giant application.

Social media is great. But content by itself isn’t enough. Close the deal with an association digital marketing strategy.

Frank J. Kenny is an internationally recognized author, professional speaker, and consultant. He is on the faculty of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organization Management (IOM). He has taught social media, digital marketing, and technology strategies to business audiences from around the world.

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