I asked HYPE member Caitlin Thayer, of Thayer Consulting, to guest blog a post for me about effective ways a young professional organization can use social media to communicate with its members:
Young professionals organizations around the country are working to create exciting events, encourage engagement in the community, and get new membership. Last November, HYPE (Hartford Young Professionals & Entrepreneurs) hit 3000 members and we realized that our membership numbers and our Facebook members were keeping up with each other. When we hit 3000 members, we hit 3000 Facebook members within a day or two. It justified what we knew about how important social media is to what we do. It helps us keep in touch with current members, advertise to prospective members, promote community events and create an online community that extends to our in person community.
Here are 5 techniques that we’ve used to grow our online and offline membership.
1) Don’t constantly promote. If the only posts you make are about events you’re holding and asking for people to come, you won’t get the response you should be getting. You should be sharing more than you are asking.
2) Have a personality. Post insights and stories about your staff and volunteers, office life and the behind-the-scenes of working with young professionals. Let your online membership know who they’re talking to, sign occasional personal posts with your name (especially if there is more than one person posting!) Be real!
3) Integrate all of your platforms. We hold Facebook contests and invite our Twitter followers to join in, we create member lists on Twitter and encourage our Facebook members to share their Twitter handles with us, and we post our blogs on both Facebook and Twitter. Be equally engaging on all platforms.
4) Be consistent. Have someone devoted to your social media platforms, who will make sure they are continually updated and monitored. This will be a way for your young professional members to ask questions and keep in touch with you, and you want to make sure that their questions are being answered promptly. This doesn’t mean you have to be on 24/7, but you should have someone committed to your social media.
5) Keep an open mind. In the ever changing world of social media, keep an open mind when it comes to new platforms (like foursquare!). Try new things, be creative, and have fun!
Social media has been so important in helping us fulfill our mission of keeping young professionals engaged in everything going on in Hartford. Without social media, we wouldn’t be as in touch with our members as we are and we wouldn’t have the membership that we have. And if you haven’t taken the leap into social media yet, what are you waiting for?