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Influencer Marketing, User-Generated Content and How It Can Grow My Association

Posted by Emily Wilson

1/29/18 10:10 AM

As an agency focusing solely on associations, we want to seek out what’s working, make educated guesses with surfacing trends and recommendations about new technologies, so that we can apply methodology specifically towards the needs of the association. If it’s helping to grow a for-profit organization, how can we manifest the same results for a 501(c) 6 depending on membership, events, advocacy, and education for revenue?

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All About Influencer Marketing

You may have heard the buzz around the term influencer marketing, but maintained traditionalist views towards your messaging be it email newsletters, event marketing or even direct mail. My purpose in bringing it up isn’t to simply disrupt your status-quo, but to build a case for new ways of distrubuting and producing content to give you an edge in the market.

Influencer marketing is surging on popular apps like Instagram, but YouTube and LinkedIn are platforms associations will also want to consider. An influencer on one of these platforms posts regularly, has a genuine following, and a direct connection to your audience. I won't go into how to find your specific influencers, but here's an article by Kissmetrics that will.

We see influencer marketing for big brands all the time with sports heroes and Nike shoes for example or Oprah and any endorsement coming from her mouth. If we begin to break it down, scale-back from the Beyonces of the world, we can start to think strategically about executives, leaders, and association directors out there speaking directly to your audience on one of these platforms. 

There are upsides to promoting with an influencer where it doesn’t blatantly scream an ad. Often the person posting the content will add authenticity by only agreeing to endorse your organization if they truly connect with the cause. If growth with the coming-of-age crowd into the professional market is your mindset, then keep in mind the preferred messaging comes from real people, not celebrities - according to Melonie Dodara at Social Media Today. Influencer marketing doesn’t necessarily have to only be for big brands. According to research conducted by BlogLovin, “84% of micro-influencers charge $250 or less for each Instagram post.”

If you ventured your way into social advertising or Google search with AdWords and aren’t seeing the lift in revenue, engagement or conversions, then influencer marketing is right for you. According to Shane Barker at The Social Media Hat, “71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on a social media reference.”

Everything User-Generated Content (UGC)

Next, I’d like to introduce another term into the mix that associations are only scratching the surface capitalizing on and that’s user-generated content or UGC. For associations, let’s modify the term to member-generated content or MGC. These are testimonials from the mouths of your most delighted members. Implementing testimonials into your content strategy with videos, articles, and endorsements from industry leaders helps to validate an association’s value to potential members. The content strategy piece already takes into account distribution of such valuable content and packaging it in such a way that it leverages what real members have to say to a broader audience. That same strategy will build this effort in ongoing as a baked-in approach into the overall membership and marketing services; so that testimonials are consistently getting produced.

Member-generated content can also result from creative campaigns to promote posts at events, during local chapter retreats and meetings, and on the job. Enlisting your volunteers at local chapters to post engaging content of their work environment to encourage exposure and networking - is a great way to aquiring this kind of content. Another strategic move is to leverage an association's deep history in the profession by enlisting seasoned professionals who've made waves in your industry. 

Next Steps

Posting interesting and authentic content-consistently on such visual platforms for influential eyes to see is not for the faint of heart. (I once had to break the news to a client that in order to accomplish their social media content strategy, we would need over 700+ pieces of original and recycled content over the course of a year.) My point is that it takes a concerted effort across teams and expertise to accomplish an omni-channel approach to your marketing content, but it can be done with strategic planning, consistency, and a little creativity. Not convinced? The same article by Social Media Today says, " 34% of millennials turn to social media to make purchasing decisions."

Now go watch this great example of influencer marketing by AIGA Design and get inspired (notice the length, historical nature, and structure that went into the production). What associtaions do you follow for inspiration?

Photo credit: tedeytan on Best Running / CC BY-SA

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