If you’re anything like me (and you probably are), it’s taken a couple of days to get over the rush of the holiday weekend. It all started with Thanksgiving, flush with parade watching, overeating and skillful avoidance of family get-togethers.
Then along came Black Friday. And try as I might, I just couldn’t avoid the lure of 20 percent off my entire purchase at Bed Bath and Beyond. All I had to do was grace the frenzied workers with my joyful presence before 10 a.m. To make matters worse, I also visited three (count them, three) area Pier 1 stores to gather enough clearance dishes to assemble 12 complete place settings.
Finally, Cyber Monday. And although I didn’t indulge in the bountiful bargains, I understand that Cyber Monday sales were colossal. Online sales for the day were expected to hit $1.2 billion, topping last year’s $1.03 billion, according to early estimates. But that’s not even the whole story. More notably, Black Friday sales online were up 26 percent over last year’s numbers.
So, what does this all mean for the association community? Well, I’m no social media maven, but for the average-to-slightly-advanced social media user, it means lots and lots of people are in some way engaged in this space we call the Internet. And if people are online spending billions of dollars annually—let alone over the course of one holiday weekend—there must be a way to successfully engage these individuals with our associations, too.
In fact, I think it should stop each of us dead in our tracks, if even for a few moments, to consider how our organizations are currently engaging and harnessing the power of the Internet and this “fad” called social media. Specifically, how are we engaging members or clients via our Web site or through such communication channels as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the like?
For me, this past holiday weekend offers five key takeaways for the association community:
- Mobile goes mainstream. With the number of new apps and mobile-enabled Web sites increasing each day, not to mention the volume of members now turning to smartphones for their news and information, it’s important for associations to stay ahead of this trend.
- Cash is king. Or, more appropriately, a good pricing strategy is king. I attended an ASAE-sponsored program earlier this year featuring Rafi Mohammed and he completely changed my perspective on pricing. If you’ve not yet read his book, The 1% Windfall, you should.
- Web analytics speak volumes. If you’ve not yet enabled analytics for your organization’s Web site, what are you waiting for? The information gleaned from this data can help you make important decisions regarding your Web site’s ease of use and functionality, not to mention start a broader discussion about long-term social media strategy.
- Old habits die hard. And what I mean here is that our members enjoy the path of least resistance. They like the way things always have been, so it’s important to maintain some element of continuity. On the other hand, members also count on you to blaze new trails. In this case, a new Facebook page or LinkedIn group may just be the common ground.
- Classics count. That’s right! Many of us have that member directory or industry guidebook that we’d rather not publish again and again, year after year; however, it endures as a mainstay for many of our members. The classics can, in fact, be our bestsellers. So, be sure to keep these publications fresh, innovative, accessible and (as we learned above) correctly priced.
So, my question to you is this: What methods have you found most successful in engaging members online? If you’ve not yet taken the plunge, what’s holding you back? As you consider your social media strategy for 2012, what one goal or initiative could you reasonably commit to pursuing?