Though social media has its well-publicized downsides, its multiple channels are still the easiest and most economical way for a small nonprofit organization to get the word out. Those of us at the Austin, Texas, chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals wanted to market our upcoming annual seminar and push past the traditional outreach method of the one-page flier pinned to a break-room bulletin board. We had no advertising budget, however, and, with an all-volunteer organization, no time.
The contest is on
We decided a social media contest would address both constraints and perhaps increase engagement, interest and attendance at our seminar. So, we launched our first-ever contest. Our seminar, titled “Build Your Ride: Get in the Driver’s Seat of Your Career,” was race-themed, so we called our contest “Drive the Conversation.” We spread the word via our Twitter feed, Facebook site and MailChimp. We encouraged our 50 chapter members to further spread digital word of our seminar by tweeting, retweeting and sharing. The member who tweeted or retweeted our two hashtags the most times would be recognized at the seminar. We tweeted about our speakers and posted articles to our Facebook account in an effort to spark interest during the contest period. We measured engagement and impressions through TweetReach and click-throughs via our Google URL shortener.
Few chapter members participated in the contest, however. This was not unexpected, given the average age of our baby boomer membership, but the lack of Facebook participation surprised us. More than half our members have accounts on which they post daily. Chapter members who did participate did so robustly. Several of their tweets reached more than a million impressions. They provided a consistent stream of content during the seminar as well.
Our metrics showed that we did reach more people than the break-room bulletin board would have, but we weren’t able to translate that to attendance numbers. Next time, we believe more member education is needed. Chapter members need to know what we want them to do and how we want them to engage. It’s difficult to hit the bull’s-eye when you don’t know where the target is. We also need to require all our speakers to have Twitter handles and include them on all of our seminar marketing collateral and social media posts.
Although our results were mixed, we know that avoiding social media is an extinction plan, not a membership strategy. Communicating digitally is the public’s first exposure to our organization. It’s in our best interest to use as many kinds of new media to introduce us to prospective members and seminar attendees. Our social media contest confirmed it.
Are you new to social media contests or a pro? Please share your comments and tips in the space below.
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