When European trade associations go social

Brett Kobie

Update (13 March 2015): Thanks to the 70+ EU trade association communicators and public affairs professionals who joined us over two days to talk about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to social. We learned, we laughed and we shared horror stories…let’s do it again soon. Here’s the slide deck in case you couldn’t make it.

European trade bodies serve as the central mouthpiece on the A-Z of an industry and their job is hard.

The life of an association communications or public affairs professional can feel like a never-ending balancing act where scarce resources and shifting priorities can breed frustration but also…efficiency and creativityAnd it’s in service of that last bit that forward-thinkers in the association world are looking to social media to maximize their resources and amplify their messages.

Comms and PA leaders are building the social muscle in their organisations by tying their social efforts directly to business and policy objectives. They’ve abandoned the digital geekery and needless mystique around social and have started explaining its value to their leadership and members in terms regular people can understand, with cold hard numbers to demonstrate its ROI.

How are they doing it?

They’re pinpointing audiences

Associations are tasked with articulating their sector’s story to a group of immensely different audiences in ways that support their members’ collective objectives. These audiences can range from PermReps to MEPs and even to the members themselves. It’s unlikely that an association can talk to every audience with the same vigour and consistency, so prioritization is a must.

They’re telling relevant stories on the right channels

An industry’s value proposition is typically a constant in association comms. It’s a narrative that is reviewed, vetted and reviewed again– but every audience needs to hear a bespoke version of that story and they need to hear it on the channel where they spend their time.

They’re creating the right content and targeting distribution

According to Hubspot, we’re each exposed to about 4.9GB of information every day, most of which we could not care less about. Enterprising associations are honing in on their audiences with advanced (sometimes paid) targeting on platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to make sure they’re reaching the people who actually matter to them—and they’re creating great content that ensures the feeling is mutual.

They’re measuring results

Metrics like followers and likes can play a role in establishing credibility on social, but it’s tough to articulate to leadership and members what these numbers actually mean and more importantly, why it’s worth spending precious resource to go after them. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to meaningful metrics, but social media practitioners on the association scene are getting smart about explaining results in a way that just makes good business sense.

Who exactly is doing this?

Well, we’ve invited them for lunch on 25 February and you’re invited too. You can get full details here and sign up through the link or just by sending me a message (or invite) on LinkedIn.