The Center for Association Resources


Is an association management firm focused on helping Non-Profit associations succeed in their mission.

Why be on Social Media?

Another in a series of articles related to association management selected from our reading list by:
Robert O. Patterson, JD
CEO/ Principal
The Center for Association Resources, Inc.

Why Be On Social Media?

Why should your association be using social media? Because everyone else is: your members, their clients and customers, and most importantly, your competition. At The Center for Association Resources, we have helped numerous client organizations navigate the constant emerging area of social media……could we help your organization?

With half the population of the United States using Facebook (, odds are high that some of them are interested in your cause, product or mission. Each of them, in turn, has their own network, further increasing your reach. Think of the silly videos that have gone viral: someone shared and asked others to do the same. They shared it with their friends and followers, and so on. Now imagine that’s your call to action or plea for emergency funds.

One of Twitter’s ( busiest days ( ever was the day Michael Jackson died, when 100,000 tweets per hour about it caused the site’s servers to crash. Word spread like wildfire. The same thing happened last spring during the revolutions in the Arab world. Never has there been a time when news can spread so fast. Imagine if it’s your good news or a request that people contact their legislators about a particular bill. People are literally helping to change the world from their laptops and smart phones.

People are connected and causes are connected. They’re already posting and tweeting about your issues. Shouldn’t you be there to drive the discussion, and, when necessary, correct misstatements, false facts and rumors.

Social media is immediate, thanks to the rapid growth of smart phones (BlackBerrys, Androids and iPhones) and the proliferation of free WiFi, or wireless broadband. More than half the users of both Twitter and Facebook access the sites from their mobile devices, according to their own statistics. That means your communication to your members, clients and customers reaches them 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Long gone are the days of communicating with business colleagues during business hours. In some cases they are accessing social media primarily after hours – at home or on the go.

According to a recent report from the Pew Research Internet and American Life Project, “The Social Media Landscape, (” 51 percent of all Internet users take part in social networking. For 18- to 29-year olds, it’s 83 percent and 70 percent for those 30 to 49 years old. That’s a large part of your audience. And lest you think social media is just for the young, the same report finds that 51 percent of Internet users 51 to 64 years old use it and 33 percent of those over 65. The last two numbers will only grow as the younger users age and continue to stay connected.

Much of social media had a truly social beginning: younger, mobile users and early adopters saw Facebook and Twitter as a way to find each other, keep up with each other and broaden their circles. And then their parents discovered it. Then savvy businesses saw the benefits. An interesting example of this is Foursquare (, a location-based social networking site. Users on Foursquare check in at their destinations in the hope that friends will find them there. The destinations – bars, restaurants, businesses – in turn have begun rewarding check-ins with specials and discounts. Your members also may establish incentives for checking into events or volunteer activities.

As we discussed in the previous post (link to it), social media should work with your existing marketing efforts. What better way to increase subscribers to your newsletter or blog than tweeting or posting on Facebook link to different articles. The same is true for news releases and news coverage that you have put in your website’s news feed. It is important to keep pointing your followers back to your website, and your original message. As hot as Facebook, Twitter and the other social media sites are right now, the next big thing may be just around the corner, but your message stays the same.

Contact The Center for Association Resources today to learn how many of these exciting strategies can help your organization achieve it’s goals!

Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Chicago, Marketing, Non-Profit, Planning, Strategic Planning, Strategy, The Center for Assocation Resources info, Training, , ,

What is Social Media? And Who’s Using It?

Another in a series of articles related to association management selected from our reading list by:
Robert O. Patterson, JD
CEO/ Principal
The Center for Association Resources, Inc.

What is Social Media? And Who’s Using It?

It all starts with your message. Social media is a powerful marketing and communication tool which allows you to spread your message to your audiences. Social should work with – and enhance – your existing marketing efforts. Wikipedia ( defines it as “media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media use web-based technologies to transform and broadcast media monologues into social media dialogues.”

This is the first in a series of three blog posts by The Center for Association Resources that will explore the what, who, why and how of social media for associations.

Got news? Post a link to your news release, and resulting media coverage, on Facebook ( Twitter ( Want to take the pulse of your members or customers? Ask a question in a LinkedIn ( group. Did your CEO just give a great speech? Put it on YouTube ( and post the links everywhere.

Social media is instant and interactive. Use it to talk to your members, and to listen to what they say back. Use it to mobilize your members, your constituencies, your friends and your followers to advocate on your behalf to lawmakers and thought leaders.

If you’re already using social media in your marketing, make sure your message is consistent and your content is up to date. Yes, it’s free, but you need to invest staff time and resources to do it right. If you’re not yet using social media in your association, here’s what you need to know about what’s out there and how to integrate it into your current plan.

Facebook is the best known and most widely used social media site. More than 741 million people worldwide use it, more than 155 million of them in the United States. That makes the American population of Facebook larger than the population of Russia or Japan. And every time one of them logs on to Facebook, he or she is a potential target of your message. And you thought it was just for catching up with old friends from high school or posting vacation photos.

Setting up a Facebook page is easy. Click on “Create a Page” on the bottom right side of your personal page. Follow the step-by-step instructions and start posting. But don’t do it in a vacuum. Put a link to it on your website and in your newsletter. Ask your Facebook friends to “like” your page. Within your organization, designate a staff member to maintain, monitor and moderate the page. Have more than one administrator, to ensure continuity should that person leave.

Try to post on your Facebook page at least once a week. Use a mix of association announcements – it’s a great way to plug events, association updates and relevant news from your industry sector. Your Facebook page is a great way to drive people back to the heart of your brand: your website. When you update a section, post a link and tell your followers to check it out. No big announcements this week? Highlight an interesting or helpful section of the website with a “Did you know … “ post with a link to it.

Use Twitter to send people to your Facebook page and your website. Twitter has more than 100 million users worldwide, more than half of whom log in daily to follow their interests. Unlike Facebook, you do not have to “friend” followers, so you can follow anyone and anyone can follow you. More and more people are getting their news first from their Twitter feeds. News of the recent east coast earthquake spread on Twitter almost as fast as the quake itself. With just 140 characters per “tweet” (Twitter post) it is an ideal environment for links back to your website, newsletter or Facebook page. Like you did for Facebook, have a designated tweeter to maintain a consistent message and style. And make sure you respond quickly to any questions, comments or negative tweets. Future Public Relations classes will be devoted to companies and organizations that failed to respond quickly to public complaints.

LinkedIn is the third social media site you should consider for your association. It is the most business-oriented of the three and has more than 120 million members in more than countries and territories. More than half its users are outside the United States. Organization leaders should have their own accounts, and regularly post relevant news, comments and questions. It also is becoming a great place to find new hires. Join or create a group and participate in the discussions there. Companies or associations can set up profiles and have followers just as individuals do. Have you set up yours?

And then, there’s Google Plus (, the new kid on the social media block that’s attracted more than 43 million users in a very short period of time. The platform has been open to the public (previously, user were invited to join) about a week or so. Business profiles are planned, but not yet available, but association leaders should be active on Google+. One of the best reasons why? It’s Google.

Besides being the place where most people begin their Internet searches, Google’s umbrella includes YouTube and Blogger, so Google+ offers a great way to leverage all of those platforms. One of its most attractive features is “Hangouts (,” which lets you chat with up to nine people through your computer or mobile device for free. For associations with staff in various cities, Hangouts can be an alternative to teleconferences.

Do you need to be on every one of these sites? Only you can answer that based on your message and your audience. A comprehensive social media strategy can enhance your current marketing plan. But before you jump in, figure out what you want to say – and to whom. And commit to it. An out-of-date, irrelevant social media presence is worse than none it all. Then, have fun engaging your audience. You’ll wonder why it took you so long.

We would be pleased to discuss this in more detail with you! Contact The Center for Association Resources today.

Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Chicago, Marketing, Non-Profit, Planning, Strategic Planning, Strategy, The Center for Assocation Resources info, Training, ,

How to Use Social MediaHow to Use Social Media by Robert O. Patterson and The Center for Association Resources

How to Use Social Media

You’ve opened a Twitter ( account, you’ve created a Facebook ( business page, and you and your association are on LinkedIn ( Now what?

This third in a series of posts on the subject will answer that.

You already should have determined who in your organization will be doing the posting and tweeting (posting on Twitter). For consistency of message and style, it is best to keep those duties to just one or two people. If you are not the one doing the posting, make sure you are an administrator on the accounts and that you monitor your Facebook page, Twitter feed and other social media sites on a regular basis to know what is being said. We noted in the first (link to first blog post) blog post that while social media sites are free, you and your association need to invest staff time and resources into doing it right.

Be sure to have a clear idea of what you want to communicate: news updates about your organization and your business sector; tie-ins to current events; links to your website, blog and newsletter. Make sure to have a good mix of posts. Constant self-promotion turns off followers. Ask questions and respond the answers. At The Center for Association Resources, we have continue to see results for a variety of organizations that follow this guidance.

Writing that first post or tweet may feel a little like walking into a freshman mixer. You fear nobody knows you and nobody will be interested in what you have to say. That’s not true. With more than 51 percent of Internet users in the United States engaged in social media, so there are many people out there interested in your cause, your association or your product. Be authentic in your posts and don’t always be in sales mode.

Know your audience. Unless you are certain they are overtly partisan or strongly identified with a particular faith or cause, keep your posts non-partisan and inclusive. If you wish your followers Merry Christmas, be sure to include holidays from other religions, as well. If someone posts an offensive response to something, delete it and apologize. Bad publicity is NOT better than no publicity at all.

Post photos and videos from your association’s events, and invite participants to share theirs. But stay away from wild or embarrassing shots. No need to be too authentic.

Finding followers is easy. They’re already reading your newsletter or blog. Invite them to follow you on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus (, and suggest they ask others to do so as well. Ask your own personal Facebook friends and encourage co-workers to do the same. Suggest to other members of a LinkedIn group that you “like” each others’ Facebook business pages – and don’t forget to include the link to your own.

Leverage “old media,” and other venues to drive traffic to your website, Facebook business page or newsletter through the use of QR codes ( “QR” stands for quick response, and they’re those little black and white boxes that are starting to show up in ads, magazines and displays. Smart phone users scan them and go directly to wherever on the Internet that particular QR code send them. Real estate professionals are starting to put them on signs, for a link to a detailed description of the property. Food product displays might include links to recipes. Clever organizations wanting to promote an event are putting them on posters and in ads to take people right to where they can buy tickets or sign up to volunteer. Creating a QR code is easy through numerous websites, like this one: Be sure to test it before you publish it!

In our experience, the social media world is constantly changing, as the rapid growth of Google Plus has proven. We continue to work with your organization to get the most out of your social media plan. Let us know how The Center for Association Resources can help your organization today!

Filed under: Association Resources, Center for Association Resources, Chicago, Marketing, Non-Profit, Planning, Strategic Planning, Strategy, The Center for Assocation Resources info, Training, , ,

July 2012

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