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Why association and membership CEOs need to be active on social media

A new piece of research in partnership with Onalytica, Membership World and Synergy was launched recently which took a look at over 300 social media profiles of membership and trade association chief executives. The list was confined to Linked and Twitter over the calendar year of 2020 and reviewed followers and engagement. The list was taken on a random selection, so big and small associations were reviewed.

Craig Bennett, CEO of The Wildlife Trusts created the most engagement, with 13,517 total engagements in the year, 12,549 being reactions and 968 being comments. Craig shares articles from mainstream news sources that are relevant to his industry, always adding his own opinion and insights. His content is also rarely without a video or image which is an important consideration as we know that viewers react well to this. Craig effectively portrays the culture of The Wildlife Trusts in his posts, when it comes to attracting talent and recruitment. Out of the Top 20 CEOs, on average, 91% of engagements consisted of reactions and 9% consisted of comments.

Lisa Ventura, CEO of UK Cyber Security Association has the highest comments to reactions ratio, with 16% of her total engagements being comments – almost double the average of the top 20. This is due to Lisa sharing news and updates, as well as often asking her audience questions in her content, prompting conversation with her audience. Lisa has recently launched the new UK Cyber Association and has been very active as she has been building her profile in advance of the launch of this.

Across the board, original content performs far better than branded and shared content, with 70% of all engagement attributed to original content. 20% of all engagement is attributed to brand shared content, indicating that this content is still relevant and relatively well received with their audiences. 10% of all engagement is attributed to shared posts. This reflects the desire for original content and opinions on LinkedIn. Promisingly, out of the top 10 CEOs, the majority of their posts are original. Overall, just over half (53%) of the top 10’s posts are original posts, which are yielding the majority (70%) of engagements. 37% of the top 10’s posts are shared posts, yielding 10% of all engagement. 10% of the top 10’s posts are brand shares, yielding 20% of all engagement.

Larger organisations tend to reside on Twitter more and be more active. Twitter is great for conversation and an ideal platform for campaigning. I saw this myself with a group called Forgotten Ltd and this membership group spearheaded by Gina Broadhurst actively asked members to put pressure on the Government through Twitter bombs and was often trending on the key topic they were raising. Twitter reacts well to lots of posting not the case with Linkedin. In fact evidence of posting any more than once a day on Linkedin can work against you. Quality must always prevail rather than rushed posting. Sometimes its better to avoid scheduling tools, its not about broadcasting or promotion but adding real value to your audience. Don’t be shy of sharing more personal stories, members can react to that. It suggests a less industry body corporate feel. Visual content in our research has proved this works time and time again.

Many organisations will have marketing teams that manage the CEOs and or organisations social media account. The challenge with this sometimes, is that it can lose some level of authenticity.

Here is an example of Caroline Gumble who runs The Chartered Institute of building and used an example of a recent global meeting. These sorts of messages reminds other members of what the association is doing and maybe might stimulate more in whats going on. I saw other examples of CEOs appearing on television interviews and used the graphic to further the conversation and once again remind members they are striving to gain funding and support for them.

CEOs can use social media to promote hiring opportunities, and another reason to remind followers of the associations vision and purpose. For example looking for a new director of marketing to work in our newly expanded team in Oxford and to help us develop on our journey of building global communities in the beauty industry. We are looking for passionate, drive and focused individuals who thrive on making a difference.

Some of the best ways that CEOs can create greater reach are:

  • Create original content rather than just sharing others.

  • Use appropriate and relevant hashtags

  • Ensure the social profiles are optimised

  • When appearing on TV or featured in magazines, repurposing content on different platforms

  • Highlighting members that are doing innovative things

  • Tagging key stakeholders, influencers and Government authorities in posts

  • Doing videos – its more authentic

  • Use Linkedin polls which drive engagement with an introduction

  • Consider running a regular CEO live or regular video timed slot.

  • Use questions to provoke responses rather than statement of fact

  • Use powerful personal imagery to drive a message home

  • Be consistent and timely with content

  • Always like and comment on those that contribute to your articles

  • Avoid relying entirely on social media teams to post all the content

  • Showcase employees success stories

  • Use Twitter to galvanise campaigns tagging journalists

  • Be passionate about key sector causes and show that in posts

  • Be the industry person for clear communications in a crisis.

  • Livestreaming opportunities- Linkedin saw a 437% growth in this last year


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