Do you use social media such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to promote your Toastmasters Club events? Do you want to use social media to attract more guests to your club, recruit more new members and stay connected with existing members? If yes, you are at the right place!
In this blog, you will discover how to develop a practical social media strategy and action plan to grow your club. I will use Confidently Speaking Toastmasters 2016 Open House as a case study to show you how to promote your club event using social media.
Let’s get started!
Before you jump into the social media jungle, you need to have a strategy. Otherwise, you will get lost quickly. You could spend hours every day on social media without such accomplishment.
To create your strategy, you need to answer the following questions:
- What are your objectives?
- Who is your target audience?
- Which social network to focus on?
- What to share on social media?
- How to interact with your target audience and engage existing members?
Let’s go through them one by one.
First, set up your objectives. What objectives do you want to achieve on social media? As Toastmasters club officers or future club officers, your objectives could be:
- Attract more guests
- Recruit new members
- Connect with existing members
Who is your target audience? For example,
- People who want to become a better communicator with confidence
- People who are looking for a better career opportunities
- People who want to establish themselves as a leader or authority in their field
- People from a specific profession (e.g. business analyst, sales and marketing, project manager)
- People from a certain age group
To go one step further, find out your target audience’s pains, frustrations, desires and wants.
What are their pains and frustrations? For example,
- They are worried about their next presentation.
- They have the tremendous fear of public speaking.
- They are introverts.
What are their dreams and desires? For example,
- They want to become a better speaker with confidence.
- They want to land their dream jobs and get promoted.
- They want to become a leader in their field.
The more you know about your target audience, the better you can communicate with them on social media. The better you can serve them. Based on the information you’ve gathered about your target audience, write your key message to your target audience by emphasising the benefits your club can provide. Tell visitors that your club is the solution to their problems; your club can bring them hope; and your club can make their dreams come true.
Which social media to focus on?
There are so many social media networks – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Google+, Instagram, Meetup, just to name a few.
Which one should you go after? In general, you want to be where your target audience is. If they are on Facebook, you should be there. If they are on LinkedIn, you should to be there.
Let’s face it, we are all busy. It is impossible to be on every social network. So focus on one main social network and make it as a hub of your social media presence. Then select a couple of more networks to help you spread the word. For example, you can run a highly active Facebook fan page by posting great content on it regularly and re-use your most engaging content on Twitter and LinkedIn. Then direct people from other networks to your Facebook fan page.
In addition, Youtube and Meetup are two great social networks to attract people to your club. You post your videos on Youtube and schedule meetup events for your weekly club meetings on meetup.com. Then share them on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Make sure you have an attention-grabbing description for your Youtube video and club meeting.
You may wonder, “This is already too much for me!” Don’t worry, I will share with you an easy way to manage all these platforms shortly.
So far you know objectives, your target audience, their pains, frustrations, desires and wants. You also select the social network to focus on. Now it is time to decide what to share on social media and how to engage your audience.
What to post and how to engage your audience
Content is the digital bait on social media. It is the great content that attracts your target audience and engage your existing members. You can share your club news, success stories, events, pictures and videos. For example, if your club publishes newsletters, you can break the content into smaller pieces to share on different social networks. The content can be re-used on multiple networks to reach out more people. Try to add a link back to your club website whenever possible so that people can visit your website to learn more about your club. Remember, your objective is to attract new guests.
Here are 7 tips on how to craft your engaging content and interact with your audience:
- It is not about “you” it is about “them.”
In your social media post, if you talk about your target audience’s pains/frustrations and/or desires/wants, you get their attention. If you emphasize on the benefits of Toastmasters to their life, you get their interest.
- Keep your post short and sweet.
Twitter only allows 140 characters. Facebook and LinkedIn are more flexible but you don’t want to overwhelm your audience with too much content. Make your content interesting, informative and entertaining. Use images, video clips, pictures to catch people’s attention. People love to see anything that is visual.
- Use 1-2 proper hashtags to increase exposure.
A hashtag is a word or keyword phrase with a pound sign (#) before it. It is used to identify messages on a specific topic. Hashtags make it easier for users to find more information about the same topic. Now they are widely used on multiple platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Pinterest, Google+. Studies show that tweets with hashtags receive 2X time more engagement than those without hashtags. Some of the popular hashtags you can use to promote your Toastmasters club are: #toastmasters, #PublicSpeaking, #meetup, #leadership, the hashtag of your city.
- Create a simple content calendar.
For example, Monday – motivation; Tuesday – public speaking tips; Wednesday – club meeting theme, remind members of the club meeting; Thursday – club news, pictures, etc Friday – let’s have some fun and humour! Aim to post 1-2 post on Facebook, 2-3 on Twitter and 1 on LinkedIn day.
- Use Hootsuite to schedule your social media updates.
Besides manually post on each social media network, you can also use Hootsuite to help you post updates on multiple networks automatically. Hootsuite is a free social media management tool to manage your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. Spend 10-15 minutes a week to schedule some evergreen content in advance. Evergreen content is not time sensitive. For example, public speaking tips, videos, motivational quotes, etc. Use a combination of manual posts and auto posts.
- Have a strong CTA. For example, invite people to visit your club. Remind members to attend weekly club meeting. Encourage club members to share the posts to their friends. “Like” is good. “Share” is even better.
- Ask for advice, likes, shares and comments; respond to comments; thank people for their re-tweets and shares; and welcome new followers.
Next I will use Confidently Speaking Toastmasters (CSTM) 2016 Open House as a case study to show you how to use social media to promote your club event.
CSTM hosted its open house on Feb 10th. I co-organized the event with Calvin Smith VP of membership. It was a huge success.
We had 25 guests with a total of 63 in attendance. We started to promote on social media on Jan 8th. I created a free event on Eventbrite.ca. Then I shared the link on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Wechat. I asked our club members and friends to share the link.
Why did I choose to use Eventbrite? It is free. It has a registration form that takes people’s emails. We used it as a landing page to collect leads for this event. I received an email notification from Eventbrite every time when someone registered. Eventbrite sent out an email reminder to people who registered the day before the open house. Compared to traditional ways of distributing your flyers to the gym, library, or supermarket, Eventbrite is more effective because it capture people’s email. We had 26 people registered on Eventbrite.
At the same time, I also created events on my Meetup groups. I am the organizer of a couple of meetup groups. Though not everyone has this privilege, what you can do is to approach to bigger meetup groups in your city and ask them nicely (using your Toastmasters communication skills) to promote your event to their club members. I am sure most of them will say yes. I had 23 people sign up for the open house. Before the meeting I sent out email reminder through meetup.com.
Both offline channels and online channels were used to promote our open house. The results show that Meetup and Eventbrite were the most effective ones. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn were used to spread the word. Here are 5 key takeaways . . .
- Create an event on Evenbrite and Meetup 3-4 weeks in advance.
- Craft a compelling introduction about your event.
- Invite people to register even if it is free.
- Spread the news on different social networks.
- Email people at least once within the last 24 hours before the event to remind them.
In short, using multiple social networks collaboratively turns out to be very effective in promoting CSTM open house.
Now your turn . . .
You’ve learned how to define your objectives and target audience; what to share and how to engage your audience; how to promote your club event using different social networks. Here is your action plan:
- Define your objectives and target audience.
- Create your club’s Facebook fanpage, Twitter account and/or LinkedIn page if you haven’t.
- Write your key messages by emphasizing the benefits your club can provide.
- Create a simple content calendar to follow and set up a Hootsuite free account to schedule your social media posts.
- Create events on Eventbrite or Meetup and share them on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Now you have the strategy and action plan. Go ahead and take baby steps to implement it. You will see great results even if you just implement 5%, 10% of what you’ve learned. You too can attract more guests to your club, recruit more new members and retain existing members.
- http://hashtagify.me – Find out more hashtags for your social media posts.
- http://www.feedly.com – It is a free tool to organize and read your favorite blogs, magazines and publications in one place.
- https://www.canva.com – Use this simple free graphic design software to create amazing images for social media.
- http://www.goodreads.com/quotes – It has a great collection of popular quotes that can be shared on social media.
- http://buzzsumo.com/ – Find the most shared content for almost any topics.
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