I was so flattered that Frank Kenny had me on his Chamber Focus Show live in his Facebook Group. He asked me about:
- Justifying time spent on social media & marketing
- Refuting “I don’t have time for Facebook”
- Our new award winning chamber/CVB website
- Being a millennial & chamber involved
Your chamber only has three staff members. How do you justify devoting so much time to social media & marketing?
My CEO realized the value of social media long before she hired me. This is great for me, but I know some of you might need to rationalize this to your boss or board. I’ve even turned in a board report that explains the general importance of social media and translates some of my social terms and what it would mean for a business’s bottom line. Here’s a few:
Brand Awareness = Engagement and/or Reach = Reach Potential Members, Engage Current Members
The first is Brand Awareness. For us, just getting out that we exist out is huge. My chamber is located in a city that isn’t actually a city – we’re a census designated zip code which means there is no city government. Yeah.
I’ll go to neighbor networking events and introduce myself and half the people I talk to say “Oh, I didn’t even know Little River had a Chamber!” (It gets old after a few times.) So the networking works, but obviously, I have other things to do than talk to strangers all day. So how do I reach a ton of people at once without having to be there? Social media.
The best way to quantify brand awareness is through Engagement (mentions or tags, shares, and link clicks). You can do this for free with Twitter Analytics, but not so much Facebook. For Facebook I track Reach per post, and just eyeball engagement.
Aside: You can track Facebook Engagements with paid tools, but to do it for free you’d have to manually count them – and ain’t nobody got time for that.
Reach is also a good metric that builds upon Retaining Current Customers/Members. Chances are if they’ve liked your Facebook page, they’re probably already a chamber member, right?
New Potential Members = Lead Generation = Audience Growth Rate
Another term your board might understand is Audience Growth Rate. Fortunately this is pretty easy to calculate. I log the number of followers every month in an excel spreadsheet. For my fellow non-math people, the formula for audience growth rate = (Current Month – Last Month) / Last Month. I also do this for yearly growth.
Sounds fancy, right? It’s actually just your number of new followers.
Bonus: If you’re really nerdy 🤓, you can track Audience Growth Rate Percentage which = (New Followers / Total Followers) * 100. But really, as long as all of my numbers are growing at any level I’m happy.
Audience Growth also equates to new or potential customers, aka Lead Generation. I don’t have any hard data, but I bet there’s at least some correlation between your number of members and number of Facebook Likes.
Trust & Authority = Traffic & Time on Your Content
Let’s not forget about Trust & Authority. Not only does Google value you more if your social signals are higher, but Millienals like me won’t trust you if we can’t find the information we’re looking for online. These are a bit harder to track, but the some metrics for authority are: returning traffic & time spent both on your social media, website, videos, etc. For websites, this can also mean a low Bounce Rate.
Social Signals: Having updated social media + others talking about you.
Customer Satisfaction = Timely Responses, Reviews, and Negative Feedback
I know I’ve been talking a while, but before we move on I do want to mention Customer Satisfaction.
We live in the age of Instant Gratification. 42% of social customers expect you to reply within an hour. While most of my Facebook Messages are for my festivals, Chamber are still likely to receive Reviews. If you’re not getting reviews on Facebook and Google you need to start asking for them. It’s a good practice to respond to reviews, even if you’re just saying “Thanks.”
The last part of Customer Satisfaction is Negative Feedback. You need to address any negative comments you get publicly. What I mean by this is if they posted a comment on your Facebook page, you should reply directly to that comment. Do not delete negative comments. Trust me.
Facebook also shows you post-level negative feedback for Hide Post or Unlike Page. If you keep seeing this on the same type of post, then stop posting about that!
So social media is important for chamber growth, but what would you say to professionals that just don’t have time? I just don’t understand how you can keep up with 15 different accounts.
No worries, I have some secrets for you! There’s only 3 things you need to focus on:
- A content calendar
My content calendar did take a lot of time initially, but now all I have to do is print it out every month and check off the posts I’ve scheduled. Then I just print the it out once a month and check off the posts as I schedule them.
Want your own? Check out my course, where I walk you through creating your own chamber specific content calendar.
I also want to point out that I try to be flexible with myself and my calendar. I know my priorities and if I’m super busy then there are certain posts I’ll just skip. On the other hand, if I have time I’ll write-in some holiday posts or trendy hashtags.
Content Calendar Tips
- Remember the 80/20 rule – no more than 20% of your posts should be self-promoting!
- I’ve heard some businesses complain about getting 5 emails in a row from another chamber. Personally, I won’t send more than 3 mass emails a week, preferably on different days.
Once I kind of know what I want to do, I just have to sit down and schedule these. And with my chamber’s affordable investment (half price, anyone?) in SmarterQueue it’s super quick. I simply schedule a post one time, and it’ll push it out to multiple platforms as many times as I want.
Finally, my favorite thing is automation.
One automation tool you might be familiar with is actually in ChamberMaster. ChamberMaster has an option in Setup > Social Network Settings. I have all of their options enable for Twitter only. This means every time a deal, news release, job, or event is activated it will automatically Tweet for me. I only do Twitter because you can fill up your Twitter feed and it’s not a big deal, but I don’t want that quantity (or quality) on Facebook. I will say that these posts aren’t the prettiest, but for Twitter I kind of focus on automating frequent activity and then just retweet something that looks nice every so often. If I have time. Or I’m bored.
Also for automation, I really recommend If This Then That. They can link to any social media platform which is amazing! I have it set up so that every Facebook post is automatically tweeted with a picture. I also have it set to automatically tweet my Instagram photos (on my destination account, these are my most retweeted items). I also have my Instagrams automatically saved to Pinterest. Cool, right? Automating with IFTTT is great because I want a Twitter & Pinterest account, but they’re lower on my priority list. This makes them look like I’m actually active. Which I’m not.
So Izzy, you mentioned that your chamber website just went live this week?
Yes (judge it here). Even though we had just done it three years ago it was really already outdated. Part of the reason it was so outdated was because we had picked a national partner that just said ‘here’s your template choices, pick one.’ At the time it seems okay because it’s better than what you already have, but we really needed to think past those templates and see what we could be doing.
Update! Our website has since won an award for it’s awesomeness!
The downside to not doing a template is price. We paid a local business about $6,500 minus the base price of membership. However, I really think it’s worth it.
Our new website is mobile responsive, fast, and much cleaner. I got rid of a lot of unnecessary fluff and got some new visuals that weren’t available with a lot of templates. I still have a variety of pages, but now they’re better organized and easier to find. We also finally started a chamber blog, which we’ve said we’d do for like 2 years now.
Related: Here’s some tips for your chamber blog.
Isn’t your new site in WordPress? Is it worth hiring someone to do that?
Yes, and more than 26% of sites online were made with WordPress. WordPress is pretty user-friendly, and I can edit the content of my web pages and posts without messing up the way the template looks.
While my personal blog (hey, you’re here!) I fully did myself, I’m going to say No, I wouldn’t do it on my own for the chamber. When you have a professional do it they’re (again) not just picking out a template for you. Our guy created exactly what we wanted from scratch in PHP (which is a type of code that I’m never going to learn if I can help it). They can also help do some of the hard techy things for you. I say pay up. Most of us chambers probably don’t have a guy on staff just for this. There’s a few exceptions, but you probably already know who you are.
If you have any uncertainties, try taking your potential contract to a different trusted source in the web industry. They should be able to quickly understand and point out anything that seems odd.
Izzy, you let it slip that you’re a Millennial. Since you’re here, can you give any insight if Millennials even know what a chamber is?
I’m going to start off saying that most young people don’t know what a chamber is. I still wasn’t sure what a chamber does even after interviewing to work here. The only Millennials that do know are the ones that are already at your networking events.
If my friends ask me what we do, I tell them we help businesses, we do some city things you think just happens, and that I Google stuff for old people. Obviously this is not my elevator speech – just my close friends.
Part of pushing awareness is just going to be reaching young people. The obvious is social media – I share all of our events on Facebook and other event websites. Things always change but one thing doesn’t – you need to be where your [target] audience is.
The more time-consuming idea would be speaking at schools. The more students that learn what Chambers are and do, the more professionals in the future will know 😉. If you have a program set up with a local school, even better.
Then there’s always Young Professionals programs & events. We’ve all heard “if you build it, they will come.” Unfortunately, that’s not true.
Getting more millennials at your event
If you’re trying to get more Millennials involved with you, you have to make it easy for them. We like free food & beer (so keep that), and we want our employees to pay us for networking at our event. So you want to entice the companies themselves to keep sending you their staff or raffle off some gift cards.
Not only do we want to be paid for showing up, we want to do it on normal company time. We are a work to live generation – we do not a live to work. The easiest way to for a chamber to match that is simply to change your event hours. Instead of 5:30 – 7, try different time slots during they day so we have an excuse to leave the office. Or help them convince their employers that sending them will benefit the company.
Thanks again to Frank Kenny for letting me be a part of your show. I really hope someone got some useful tips from me!