During last week’s 2017 ASAE Great Ideas Conference, disruption was King of the Topics. For many employers, nothing is more disruptive to staff productivity than the ever-alluring distraction of social media. If your boss is one of those blacklisting access to Facebook from 9 to 5, this may be the case you’ve been waiting for to get her to unblock social media on your work computer! Because doing so may help you make a major impact on your association’s next big event.

At the risk of stating the obvious, each individual has personal preferences about when, where, and how he or she receives communication. Your association is sitting on a mountain of data containing those preferences for all of your members and prospective conference attendees. The secret lies in harnessing the data from your association management system (AMS), marketing automation tools, and social media pages, to name a few, to make informed decisions about how you should be communicating with your base.

Omni-channel communication is one of the best ways to drive registration and engagement, and generate buzz about a conference using targeted content and identifiable member preferences, allowing you to deliver value before, during, and after the event. As Scott Oser, of Scott Oser Associates, and Maneesha Manages, from HighRoad Solutions pointed out in their Great Ideas’ session, omni-channel is different from multi-channel. Here’s the breakdown of how:

  • Multi-Channel Communication: Organizational or brand-driven view of touchpoints used to engage with a customer or prospect. Multi-channel communication provides an “inside-out” view, which is ideal for outbound marketing strategies where you’re looking for tactical or operational outcomes.
  • Omni-Channel Communication: Orchestrating the customer experience across all channels so your message is seamless, integrated, and consistent. An omni-channel approach gives you an “outside-in” view to drive inbound traffic with a strategic advantage.

What does it look like in practice? It may be sending emails to audiences at different times of day and on different days of the week, based on what past behavior indicates their highest open rates to be. For Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter, consider tracking when you’ve seen the biggest click-through rates to your website or event registration pages in the past, and using the data to guide your posting cadence and channels going forward.

If you’re looking to reach new members or those who haven’t attended before, figure out who your Mr. or Ms. Ideal Attendee is and what his or her behaviors were prior to registering. Use Mr. or Ms. Ideal as a model, and only use your “best of” emails, direct mail pieces, and social posts he or she engaged with most, and push those types of communications out to prospects. Every association is unique, and only your data is going to tell you what is going to work best.

There are some things we do know for sure. As Abila will reveal in our next research study being released in April 2017 (teaser alert), in-person, multi-day conferences are still the preferred method of learning for association members, and the trend of continuing education as an important benefit associations provide continues to be on the rise. Tout the courses, number of CE credits available, and networking opportunities as part of your marketing strategy.

A lot of the data analytics you’ll need to do are best done by an expert, third-party, which could cost you a pretty penny. The good news is there are a lot of tools you can access for free, like reports living in your AMS, especially if you’re using a platform like netFORUM™ with an open API, and have your systems integrated and syncing to one source of truth. Guess what else is free? (Drum roll…) Social media!

Start your own #SocialConference with these 25 Steps to  Use Social Media to Engage Members Before, During, and After Your Event.