From click rates and impressions to fans and followers, social media sites and email services make it easy to measure how many members you’re reaching with your posts. It’s great to have all this data at your fingertips. But what do you do with it all? How can metrics help guide your communications to win your members’ attention and increase their engagement with your association?
At the Greater Capital Area Association of REALTORS®, Md., we dug into our data and discovered meaningful trends that have inspired new approaches to using our communications vehicles. Here’s what we did and how it could work for your association:
Take a long-term view of social media
Social media is all about immediacy. The sites show your traffic in real time. The open screen of a metrics page typically shows daily visits, views, and clicks on your most recent posts, and changes to your number of followers or fan base. This information is terrific if you are trying something new and want immediate feedback on how a campaign is being received or need to quickly measure if your call to action is getting any traction.
But while weekly information is interesting, it may not help you figure out what type of Facebook content your members want more of or what will get them engaged on Twitter. If you aggregate your data into quarterly and annual reports and look at your top posts over a 12-month period, you’ll get a more accurate picture of the type of information your members respond to. What made it into your annual top five?
At GCAAR, we found that our most popular Facebook post was a link to a Washington Post article about a new sales contract, which reached four times as many people as our second-most popular post.
Now that you are looking at the big picture, search for patterns. Look at your top five posts and your bottom five posts. Patterns may appear by content (education, legislation, contracts, new member benefits, or other topics), links, photos or images, hashtags, or countless other ways.
We found that four of our five most-popular Facebook posts included pictures of members during association meetings and events.
Change what you do
Analyzing your data is an enormous waste of time and resources if it doesn’t improve your output. Translate your patterns into a communications plan. Writing out a plan, no matter how basic, will help you organize your goals and ideas, set and keep realistic timelines, and measure your success.
For example, we plan to post more photos of members on Facebook and we’ve set up a system to ensure that everyone in the picture is tagged.
Build support for your plan
Share your data, analysis, and conclusions with your communications committee or directors, fellow staff members, and any other stakeholders whose buy-in you need to make your plan successful. If your analysis suggests going in a different direction, adding a new social media outlet, or dropping a communications channel altogether, you’ll need the support of your stakeholders to make those changes work.
If your members aren’t engaged, try a new voice, a different look, or a unique approach. There are countless resources to inspire great social media posts online. Look at what others are doing. Google “great subject lines” or “awesome association posts” and you’ll be amazed at what’s out there for you to adapt. When you find something that resonates with your members, follow its direction and use it as a beacon for your future postings.
Don’t forget to look at metrics across your entire communications vehicle spectrum. Your email marketing platform should, at a minimum, provide open rates and click-through rates. For metrics on print publications, you’ll need good old-fashioned surveys and focus groups. Keep in mind that comparing this data to your social media metrics will be apples to oranges, so take any comparison with a grain of salt. Social media can engage your members in ways that just aren’t possible with email and print but can suck up staff resources at an astounding rate. Balancing your staff’s time within the channels that are most effective will prove impossible if you aren’t measuring the reach and resonance of all your communications.
One of our priorities for the rest of this year is to reinvigorate our Twitter following. Instead of retweeting everything we post on Facebook, our first experiment will be to use Twitter primarily during association events and getting attendees to do the same. We’ll measure as we go to see how it works.
In short: Look at your all-time best posts, figure out what made them great, and do more. Being strategic in how you approach social media will help focus your communications resources in the channels that work best with your members.
Social media beyond Facebook
Interested in increasing your social media reach but not sure which platform to add? Give some thought to the generation you want to reach. According to the Pew Research Center, 55 percent of internet users ages 18–29 are on Instagram, but LinkedIn is the only social media platform for which usage rates are higher among 30–49-year-olds than among 18–29-year-olds. There’s also YouTube, Snapchat, Pinterest, and Twitter to consider.
Amy Ritsko-Warren, RCE, is a project strategist at the Greater Capitol Area Association of REALTORS®, Md. Contact her at 301-590-8777 or firstname.lastname@example.org.