Are You Wasting Your Most Valuable Resource?

 

Associations Are Sitting On a Goldmine

Unlike most for-profit organizations, associations are in the business of content. You source it for your conferences. You develop it for your educational programs. And you produce it for your publications. You have no shortage of knowledge and ideas to share. But what many don’t have is a well-defined sharing program, both internally and externally, which prevents associations from using that content to its full potential.

Overcoming Internal Obstacles

Before you can leverage your content, you first have to know what’s available to you. Due to the siloed nature of many associations, simply having visibility across departments can be difficult. So here are a few ideas to break down those barriers:

  • Form an internal content team consisting of representatives from each department. Meet quarterly to discuss and share what’s new, what’s in development, and which topics are seeing the greatest success.
  • As part of this discussion, be sure to include insights on industry and member challenges, common questions your industry is asking and new learning opportunities.
  • Together, identify opportunities to re-package and reuse existing content, as well as to cross-promote programs (e.g., promote an instructor-led course at the annual conference).
  • As part of this process, you may assign someone to look through your archive of past materials for items that remain relevant. These materials can be “dusted off” for future use.
  • Define a workflow plan. Create a central repository for all final content that can be accessed across the organization, which can be as simple as a shared file folder.

 

Developing a Disciplined Content Marketing Process

With so many other “mission critical” tasks on the to-do list, finding time to consistently execute a content marketing strategy can feel daunting. However, you can reduce the amount of time you spend on a daily, weekly and monthly basis by developing a simple structure to help facilitate the process:

  • Create an editorial calendar that outlines monthly themes and weekly topics. You can then map these topics to the content and assets you already have in your library.
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel. Take your existing content and find ways to re-package it, more than once. For instance, take a popular session presentation from your annual conference and turn it into a blog post or infographic. Interview the speaker. Or better yet, ask them to write a follow-up piece. They’ll appreciate the added exposure, and you’ll have one less task to complete.
  • This goes without saying, but be sure the content you are marketing is housed online in a way that is user-friendly to view and navigate. If possible, you also want to give members the option to browse other, related content as well. The deeper they can engage, the more engaged they become.

 

Getting started with content marketing can be tough. You will have to plan to invest more time than you probably feel like you have to get everything up and running. But once you do, you will find you have created a powerful engine to increase awareness, attendance and engagement, which will absolutely pay off for your conference and your association.

How Associations Can Successfully Institute Content Marketing

Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to present to the Wisconsin Society of Association Executives about Content Marketing for Associations. It was a topic that I had constantly had conversations with association executives about over the past few years, so I thought I’d put together a presentation explaining the ins and outs of not only content marketing itself, but how associations and nonprofits can successfully institute a content marketing strategy of their own. The presentation was very well received, to my delight, so I wanted to share the main points with as many others as I could.

Here are the main points I covered:

  • What is content marketing?
  • Defining GREAT content
  • Creating effective content strategies
  • Member-generated content
  • Search engine optimization 101
  • Measuring ROI

What is content marketing

Joe Pulzzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as “the marketing and business practice for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience—with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” The main part to focus on in that definition is “creating and distributing relevant and valuable content.” The entire point and basis of any content marketing plan for an association is to create unique content that educates and engages current or potential members. This goes hand-in-hand with why associations are created in the first place; for the sole purpose of educating industry and association members

Defining GREAT content

Creating content for the sole purpose of creating content is a self-fulfilling prophecy. You’ve heard the effects of a good content marketing for associations strategy that can make a positive impact your organization, so you just crank out a bunch of content just for the fun of it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work like that. You must be able to create great content to separate yourself from other associations in your industry. Here’s 5 things each piece of content should accomplish:

  1. It must be unique: You may have heard that content is king. Well, that’s simply not true. Unique content it king.
  2. Be timely: Is the topic you’re writing about timely? Does it relate to things happening right now or in-season? People want to know the here and now, not the there and then.
  3. Take a position, and back it up with facts: Don’t be afraid to take a stance on an issue within your industry. Maybe some controversial legislation just passed that will negatively affect your industry. Write a blog about how you think it will negatively impact your colleagues and industry as a whole, but make sure you back your stance up with facts and statistics. No one likes a “facebook expert.” You know, those people who have very strong opinions on things with little to no verifiable information to back it up.
  4. Provoke conversation: When you’re writing material, always remember to think to yourself, “Could I have a conversation about this at an association meeting?” It’s a great way to determine the “who cares” factor. Don’t waste your time developing material that no one cares about.
  5. Make people smile: Don’t be afraid to be light-hearted and make people smile. Show that your organization and it’s employees are people with a sense of humor. Showing your organization has a human side is a great way to keep people engaged.

Creating an Effective Content Marketing for Associations Strategy

Creating a strategy in order to make sure you create and distribute that content correctly is also extremely important. Without a good strategy, you’re simply writing random content with no plan. You must have a plan!

  1. Know your audience: As an association, this one is pretty easy. You already have a very clear and concise target market for your future members and your know the specifics of what they like to look at. This is a huge benefit to get started.
  2. Mission statement & goals: By knowing your organizational mission statement and goals, you can coincide your content creation and dispersal along with it. Use percentages to give yourself an idea of what kind of content you should be creating for what channel. For example, if you’re looking to build brand awareness as an annual goal, a great way to do that is by creating visual content such as videos or infographics for social media. Weigh the amount of content like this you’ll create by how important brand awareness is to your organization to meet your annual goals.
  3. Stay up-to-date: Use the tools that are out there to stay up-to-date on the latest things going on in your industry. Google Alerts is a great way to have the latest information and media on a certain topic sent directly to your inbox each day. Use that information for topic ideas, or to simply share what’s going on in the industry.
  4. Create an editorial calendar: One of the best things that we’ve personally done at Omnipress is to create an editorial calendar. Each month we meet to discuss the next two months of content and plan what we’ll be writing, where we’ll be distributing it and how else we can leverage our content. It helps everyone stay on task and not fall behind. When I come in each morning, all I have to do is look and see if I’m responsible for writing or posting anything that day. I then complete that task and I’m on to other essential duties for the day. It’s a great way to stick to your content marketing plan.
  5. Track your work: I’m a firm believer that you might as well not create any kind of content unless you have a reliable way to track it. Track things like when you post, how you post and the success of the post to paint a clear picture for yourself (and your boss) of what’s working and what’s not. This will help when you’re planning future content and need to decide what to spend your precious time on.

Member-generated content

One of the other great things about using content marketing for associations is the fact that you’re able to have contact with a lot of great minds in your industry. The tough part is getting those minds to contribute to your organization in the form of content. Members respect other members so it’s incredibly important to enable them to share their experiences and their expertise. You can do so by offering incentives like committee titles, a little PR, or even a shiny new title to show off on their resume or LinkedIn profile. Enable your members to be part of what makes your association great.

Search engine 101

Search engine optimizationSearch engine optimization doesn’t have to be a big, bad, scary thing. It truly is something that everyone can do. Yes, there are very high-level things that you need a little HTML experience to conduct, but the basics are all things we can help with.

  1. Meta tags: Make sure all of your metadata is completed on all the pages of your site and blog. This means completing the title tags, description, and keywords within your content management system. There’s a lot of debate about whether or not these things have any bearing on search engine ranking anymore, but my motto has always been “it’s better to be safe than sorry.” This takes you very little time to complete each time you create new content, so why not take it to complete this task.
  2. Headline and body: The most important thing you can do with a headline or the body of the content is to write naturally. What I mean is to write like you would if you were speaking with someone in person. Don’t simply throw the keyword you’re trying to rank for in your content 100 times and think it will help you rank better. As a matter of fact, if it’s used too many times, and not in a natural, conversational tone, the search engines will actually penalize you. Use your keywords naturally!
  3. User-friendly URLs: This is a little bit more advanced, but something we can still all impact. Instead of keeping your URLs filled with random numbers and letters like this: www.omnipress.com/123/asfdqwertasvd, reformat your URLs to easy-to-read keywords like: www.omnipress.com/associations

*These are obviously three, high-level SEO tips. There are MANY other factors that go into search engine rankings, but these will help get you started with content marketing for associations.

Measuring Return-on-Investment

As an business, everything you do must be able to be tied back to some sort of ROI. Since your resources are even more limited in an association, you must really make sure your getting revenue back from your content marketing for associations efforts. Here’s a few things to keep in mind to do just that:

  1. Clearly define your objectives and goals (short and long-term): In order to measure success, you must be able to have a baseline of what success means to your organization. Using the SMART practice, you can come up with effective measurements to determine success. SMART – Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely.
  2. Key performance indicators: There are typically some KPIs that your organization can pay attention to on your website and blog to measure content effectiveness. Here’s a short list
    1. Unique visits: A unique visit is the amount of individual visits you have to certain pages. For example, if you have 10 people come to your site, that’s 10 unique visits. If those same 10 people visit your page 100 times, that’s 100 visits. See the difference?
    2. Geography: This is a great indicator, especially for state or regional associations to determine if their content is reaching the right geographic area.
    3. Bounce rate: A bounce is when someone goes to a certain piece of content (page, post, etc.) and leaves without looking at any other piece of content. You want your content to encourage people to stay on your site, so the more pages they visit the better. The lower your bounce rate, the better.
    4. Session Duration: How long are people spending on your site, and the content on it? This is a great indicator of the quality of your content.
    5. Shares, likes, comments
    6. Downloads
    7. Followers and Subscribers

Marketing with Conference Content: Part 4 – Promoting Your Conference with Twitter

 

Twitter is one of the most intimidating social media sites for people to start using. I’s seemingly secret language of #s and @s can easily scare off newcomers who try to use the service for the first time. (It’s such a common problem that Twitter has a glossary page to help users learn the terminology!)

Once you understand the basics, though, Twitter can be a fantastic tool for event professionals (or #eventprofs, in twitter lingo). Its design works well for promoting a conference or creating year-round awareness of your association. And, if your conference content is already available on a digital publishing platform, you are in luck! Twitter can extend the life of your content beyond your conference dates and make these assets effective year-round promotional pieces.

Being active on Twitter gives you a way to promote your conference, connect with industry thought leader and stay on top of industry news.

Here are 16 ways you can use Twitter to raise the profile of your association and conference.

Note: If you are new to Twitter, you’ll need to set up an account and get started before you can use these tips.

  • Create a hashtag for your event: This allows users to search for your event and to join in on the conversation.
  • Mention speakers from your conference: Speakers with an existing online presence can help spread the word about your event.
  • Create links to your existing content: Show the Twittersphere the kind of quality content your conference is known for.
  • Use quotes from your conference content: Pick interesting statements that your followers can retweet.
  • Encourage app downloads: Increase downloads of your app in the days leading up to the conference by including a link to the Apple Store or Google Play.
  • Promote your conference: Include details like date and location, then link to your registration form.
  • Tweet pictures from last year’s event: Keep your event top of mind by posting images from your previous events.
  • Tweet your social images: Twitter is the perfect place to showcase your infographics or other conference-promoting graphics.
  • Make announcements about attendance: Create excitement by tweeting out milestone attendance markers.
  • Promote your other online accounts: Make sure your Twitter followers know where to find you on other social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook.
  • Promote updates to your website: Alert your followers about new materials that have been added to your digital publishing platform.
  • Find and follow thought leaders in your industry: Strengthen your in-person relationships by adding online connections.
  • Retweet interesting thoughts and articles from industry sources: Sharing their message with your followers may make them more likely to return the favor.
  • Search for relevant industry hashtags: Add these to your tweets, too, so people interested in your topic will see your messages.
  • Retweet news articles relevant to your industry: Make your feed the go-to source for the latest developments in your field.
  • Create a poll about a current event: Twitter lets you quickly poll your followers. Ask a question about a current event in your industry.

 

Being active on Twitter lets you connect with industry thought-leaders and attendees on a platform that they prefer. By engaging in industry-specific conversations, you can reinforce the expertise that your organization brings to the subject…all in 140 characters or less!

What are some of the other ways you have used Twitter to promote your conference? Any suggestions for creative ways to incorporate your existing conference content on the platform?

 

Interested in learning more about promoting an event with your existing conference materials?

Check out the other entries in our Marketing with Conference Content series for more ideas:

Part 1: The Event Planner’s Advantage

Part 2: 3 Ways to Stand Out From the Crowd by Using Images

Part 3: How to Learn From Your Own Content [Infographic]

 

 

Marketing with Conference Content: Part 3 – How to Learn From Your Own Content [Infographic]

Using conference content as a marketing tool is a great way for your audience to learn about your conference and the value it provides.

Did you know that it can also be a great way for you to learn about your audience?

Content marketing allows you to:

  • Discover the formats that engage your audience
  • Learn the topics that resonate with your attendees
  • Develop the messages that connect with your members

The infographic below highlights five insights that content marketing can provide.

To learn more about how content can help raise the awareness of your conference, read Part 1 and Part 2 of our Marketing with Conference Content Series.

Marketing With Conference Content Infographic

 

Interested in learning more about promoting an event with your existing conference materials?

Check out the other entries in our Marketing with Conference Content series for more ideas:

Part 1: The Event Planner’s Advantage

Part 2: 3 Ways to Stand Out From the Crowd by Using Images

Part 4: Promoting Your Conference with Twitter

Conference Content Marketing: Part 2 – 3 Ways to Stand Out From the Crowd by Using Images

 

Part 1 of the Conference Content Marketing Series explained how your existing conference content provides a head start when it comes to promoting your event online. Using actual event content gives potential attendees a glimpse of the kind of material at your conference. This allows attendees the opportunity to see for themselves why yours is a “can’t miss” event.

The rest of this series will focus on actionable steps you can take to turn your existing content into a marketing asset–one that will increase the awareness of your event.

Speaking with Images

The web is becoming an increasingly visual medium. Adding visual elements to your posts is one of the most effective ways you can increase the impact of your messaging. In fact, adding images to your posts will raise engagement 650% over posting with just text alone.

Here are three conference-specific scenarios where visuals would be an effective way to promote your event. For each scenario, there is an example of an online tool that is well suited for creating attention-grabbing artwork with minimal effort.

Scenario #1 – Promote a session by a prominent speaker

The speakers at your conference are a major factor in drawing in attendees each year. So it should be no surprise that speakers make for effective marketing pieces.

Imagine you’ve just finished your speaker selection process and are ready to announce the keynote speaker. You could certainly type out a post online listing their name and the topic they will be discussing (Borrrrrr-ingggg!). A much more engaging approach is to present the same information with a visual design to it.

The Tool #1 – Pikiz

Pikiz is an image creator that is perfect for creating simple images that include text. Upload your own background image or choose from the images they have available. Then, double-click on the text box to add a customized message. Another great feature is that each social network has its own preset. This makes it super simple to post great-looking images to your favorite site.

Scenario #2 – Present research findings as an infographic

A presentation from last year’s conference coincides with some hot new research that is making the rounds. You know this is a great opportunity to join the conversation and promote your event. Since the presentation is available on your digital publishing platform, it’s ready for people to see. But how do you make sure your post stands out from the crowd of others? Use the findings from the presentation and display it as an infographic!

The Tool #2 – Infogr.am

Creating an infographic is a simple three-step process with infogr.am. Choose a design template, enter your data into their spreadsheet viewer and click share. That’s it! The program will create a shareable link to the social media site of your choice. You can also upload your own images or choose different fonts if you want a more customized design.

Scenario #3 – Call for award nominations using your own branded graphic

Part of your annual pre-event strategy is to ask for award nominations. You could do what you’ve always done: copy and paste the same text on the same social media networks and get the same results. Or, you can take it to the next level by creating a completely custom design (no designer needed)!

Tool #3 – Canva

Canva is like working with a design pro that has dozens of designs ready for you to choose from (but doesn’t charge by the hour). Once you log in to Canva, you’ll see dozens of customizable templates sorted by format. Whether you are looking to create an image for social media, your blog or a poster, Canva has a file ready for you to start designing with. It’s also flexible enough to work with your existing elements. Just add your association logo, a picture of the award and your text asking for nominations. You then have the option to share online or download.

Catch Their Eye

A well-designed image is critical in catching the attention of busy professionals, so having a visual presence online these days is essential. Presenting your existing content visually is a great way to keep your event in front of the attendees you want to attract.

Thankfully, the web is full of fast and intuitive ways to create custom graphics. With little effort, you can create designs that convey your message in an interesting and engaging way, and most importantly, in a way your audience enjoys seeing.

What are some other ways that you have re-purposed your existing conference content to create visual elements? Have you seen an increase in engagement as you moved away from text-only posts? If you have any examples of conference social media graphics you’ve created, post them below. We’d love to see them!

 

Interested in learning more about promoting an event with your existing conference materials?

Check out the other entries in our Conference Content Marketing series for more ideas:

Part 1: The Event Planner’s Advantage

Part 3: How to Learn From Your Own Content [Infographic]

Part 4: Promoting Your Conference with Twitter

Content Marketing in Disguise: Leverage your Association’s Events

Your association thrives at events, providing a forum for thought leadership in your field and networking among your members. But there’s a way to make your events even more successful: Change the way you think about them. Treat your events like content.

 

In reading Mykel Nahorniak’s 8 Ways to Transform Events into Powerful Content Marketing, published on the Content Marketing Institute’s site, I was struck by the elegant simplicity of his idea. Nahorniak posited that organizations can optimize an event’s impact by strategizing and leveraging it, as they would any other piece of content. Promote it relentlessly, push it out to social media frequently, send email announcements and reminders periodically, and keep SEO in mind when event listings are written.

People remember in-person events they attended much more than they remember online content they simply skimmed. Once. Two years ago. Transform your events into consumable, memorable content your members will use, retain, and reflect on fondly for years to come.

5 Ways to Make Pinterest Work for Your Association

Is your association ignoring Pinterest in hopes that its popularity falls stagnant like Myspace or iTunes Ping?

If you’re looking to grow your association’s membership and promote your valuable educational content, avoiding Pinterest could be a big mistake.

I recently saw this great infographic called “Pin It to Win It” that does a great job of breaking down Pinterest for marketers. Here’s what I learned.

Defining Your Target Market

Before deciding to add Pinterest to the list of your association’s social media sites, it’s important to determine if their typical users align with your target market.

Here are a few facts about typical Pinterest users:

  • 87% of Pinterest users are female.
  • The most popular age range is 35-44 (29%), followed by ages 25-34 (27%).
  • The average income of users is between $25,000-$49,999 (37%), followed by $50,000-$74,999 (33%).

If this profile sounds like the members your association is trying to attract, then it’s time to fit Pinterest into your social media strategy.

5 Tips for Targeting the Right Audience on Pinterest

  1. Research your target market. How are the members you want to attract using Pinterest? What categories are they interested in? What content are they pinning? You want to make sure your association is posting relevant content your potential members will find and be interested in.
  2. Utilize the “Pin It” button. Your social media widgets should already be front and center on your association website or digital publishing platform. Simply add the “Pin It” button so users know your association is active on Pinterest, too.
  3. Make your content “pin-able.” Since Pinterest embraces the use of visual content, you should audit the images on your association’s website. Are there images on every page of content? Try to pin each page of content on your website. If an image isn’t available, users will not be able to pin content onto their boards.
  4. Don’t use Pinterest solely for self-promotion. Yes, your ultimate goal may be to expand your brand and increase membership, but Pinterest users don’t necessarily want to be “sold to.” Post content they will find valuable such as past conference proceedings, publications and other content you house in your digital publishing platform. Think of Pinterest as another way to promote your content marketing efforts.
  5. Learn from other associations on Pinterest. Do a search for associations on Pinterest. Who is showing up? How are they ensuring they’re found in searches? What boards have they created that have gained a significant number of followers? Apply some of what seems to be working for other organizations.

How have you seen other associations use Pinterest to attract more members? Give your input in the comments section below!

What You Can Do With a Digital Publishing Platform

Think about your educational content as that box of photos you have collecting dust in your storage area… You’ve been meaning to put those photos in albums for years, haven’t you? (Don’t worry… You’re not alone. We’ve all been meaning to do the same.)

Chances are you already have an archived collection of valuable educational content, but are you sharing it in a way that is organized and usable, or are you letting it collect dust?

Using a Digital Publishing Platform to Share Content

A great way to organize and share content that many associations are now using is through a digital publishing platform. It’s a great way to archive all of your educational content, and utilize it as a marketing tool for your association.

For example, when the Transportation Research Board (TRB) was looking for a way to make more content, more accessible in an eco-friendly way, they created a digital publishing platform to host over 5,000 technical papers and presentations from their Annual Meeting.

A Digital Publishing Platform offers…

  • Various levels of access and price points for users
  • Content in a variety of segments
  • Tracking abilities which make it possible to see what content bundles are the most appealing for different users.

Take a look at your content: How could a digital publishing platform benefit your association?

Want to see how TRB’s knowledge center reached four different continents?
Get the full story here.

One Simple Way to Give Your Twitter Chat Legs – Market the Repurposed Chat Summary

Twitter chats are an excellent source of content to repurpose. You get a few to dozens of people participating and sharing resources and ideas on typically a narrow topic. The conversation ebbs and flows, but there are usually good nuggets of information that can and should be pulled out and shared.

It’s fairly easy and takes less than two hours to write a short summary (blog article) of the chat – Highlighting and giving credit to those participants because people like to see their names in articles. It makes them feel important. Then you post this somewhere (your blog, in your community, etc.).

Big secret point: Promote your written chat summary with your upcoming chat details.

Here’s why:

  • Those who attend and participate will appreciate the summary.
  • It makes the article easy to “tweet” or “”share” by anyone.
  • It provides prospective lurkers or participants an opportunity to see what they might get out of the hour chat before investing their time.
  • You build a knowledge center.

As we continue to expand on our content marketing, we thought the Omnipress Engage365 knowledge community was a good place to start. Since the end of 2010, it’s become standard practice for our #engage365 chats.

Here’s an example: Boost Business Engagement – Create a Movement

How are you giving your Twitter chat legs?

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