For association media groups, an effective social media strategy can have a tremendous impact on both editorial and membership-acquisition strategies. One way to find out which social network and content style works best for members is to A/B test different posts ad infinitum. Alternately, one could trade secrets with association media peers at the Folio: Association Media Summit on March 28 in Washington, D.C.
Speaking on the session “Social Media Strategies that Increase Engagement and Drive Membership” is Tony Lee, VP of Editorial at the Society for Human Resource Management. We checked in with Lee to find out what social looks like at SHRM, which platforms are the biggest hit with his members, and how an association can turn current events into shareable content.
Folio: What are the various content options at SHRM?
Lee: We have 289,000 members and for those folks we create a lot of different content. The most recognizable is HR Magazine, which is a printed glossy that goes to all members 10 times a year. And we have SHRM.org that has news and features. We probably publish seven or eight new articles every business day. In addition to that, we have HR Daily, which is a newsletter which goes out to 425,000 readers every day, with all new content every day. In addition to that, we have a half a dozen other newsletters that are weekly. It’s open, so anyone can sign up.
Folio: Do you have a unified social media team or multiple teams throughout the organization?
Lee: We have multiple. We have one person in the organization who is responsible for social media association-wide, and who sets strategy and roles up their sleeves and gets involved. But the editorial team also does a great deal of social media ourselves.
Different people within the organization have different needs. Social media is not one-size-fits-all, it has to be used strategically. If we publish an article about pending overtime rules, we’ll treat that different on social media than if we have a Nextchat with the author of one of our books.
Folio: What role do you see your publications as having in the greater association?
Lee: Number 1, to serve our member, and Number 2, to advance the HR profession — that’s our mission statement.
Social media is a tool. It’s just another way to communicate. So those two things are true whether we’re doing it through social media or we’re doing it at one of our conferences. Those things are always important and drive our mission.
Folio: What is SHRM’s social media strategy. Where are your association members?
Lee: The vast majority are on Facebook. The majority of the traffic we get back and the play we get and the shares and everything else is on Facebook significantly more than other sites.
The key on Facebook is that we measure usage by day and time. Some of the surprises are that we get more feedback when we’re posting on Saturday afternoon than Tuesday morning. Facebook has less traditional use so it’s nights and weekends and early mornings when things really take off. People are using it outside of the office more. We’ve seen research that says that more and more companies are blocking Facebook use.
Not every type of content works well on Facebook. You want to select content that is very shareable, that people are very interested in — more of a social content that they’ll share with other folks. We also use the idea of snack-able content, meaning smaller pieces that are easily digestible, which tend to do really well on Facebook.
Folio: What is one of your most successful posts?
Lee: We did story on the guy who’s been nominated to be secretary of labor. He’s pretty controversial and there’s been a lot of questions about whether he’s qualified to do the job. So we actually did an article looking at the employee benefits that his companies provide to their employees, as well as what Trump’s companies provide to their employees. It was a pretty interesting article period, but we used Facebook to say, “Compare the benefits that you provide at your company to the benefits that the new secretary of labor [nominee] provides and that our new president provides.”
That did extremely well on Facebook. It was taking something that was important and interesting, and making it fun for people to see where they rank compared to those guys. We had a lot of views and a lot of comments. We have a very interactive crowd who are really into social media, so it’s rare for us to put something on social media and not get a lot of feedback and comments.