1

Mar

2011

Social Media + Strategy

Who Are You Talking To?

Are you talking to the members you’ve got? Or to the members you wish you had?

All associations are struggling with the elusive next generation, the young people who don’t seem to want to pay dues, to be “speeched” at, to wait for you to communicate with them. Are you talking to those people? Are you even trying?

The Internet and American Life Project from the Pew Research Center released a report late last year that showed a dramatic fall off in blogs—both bloggers and bloggees. As Mark Cuban said recently, bloggers are exhausted. Years of writing and uploading, writing and uploading for little to no audience have taken their toll. At some point, you ask, “If no one’s listening, why do I keep talking?” There’s no money in it and what audience there was (bloggees) seems to be going elsewhere for information.

So who are you talking to/trying to talk to?

Existing Members and Blogs

The Pew Research study shows that, although blog readership has fallen among young people, it is still strong with older audiences. Blogging increased among every demographic from 34 to 73. The 40- to 55-year old sweet spot for current association members is certainly part of that audience. They both read and write blogs and want more than tweet-length information.

That’s the audience you’ve got and a good blog is one of the best things you can do for your association’s positioning and for your SEO—which, by the way, is where the money is for associations.

Younger Members and Social Media

The audience you will want in the future is another story. The 18- to 33-year old audience dropped 2% in its use of blogs—not a huge fall off but part of a slippery slope that bears watching.

No surprise that the audience who left blogs went to social media. If you’ve got a good blog for your existing members and social media to entice the younger set, you should be ahead of the trend.

However, take a hard look at your whole social media strategy. It should have two equally important elements:

1.    Social networking. Your association members and potential members should be able to interact with you and with each other. The communities should be managed, monitored and seeded so well that they self-generate. You are not pushing messages at them, they’re doing it themselves. If this is not happening, your strategy and tactics are flawed.

2.    Social media marketing. Promote new blog posts, new content on your website, any content with value via social media. This is you or volunteer leadership talking but it is still not totally one-way because the object is to drive traffic and promote interaction. Again, if this is not happening, something is wrong.

The good news is that it’s not that hard to fix. It all starts with answering the question: Who are you talking to?

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