Yesterday I had the pleasure of delivering a social media seminar to The Trade Association Forum, part of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) in London. We were supposed to do it at our offices but due to a big demand it was moved to Centre Point which is a skyscraper (kind of) in central London. This made the whole experience more interesting for me as my presentation had to compete with a nice view of the royal capital as per my iPhone image above.
This is the first time I have ever trained trade associations and their management teams. Their marketing efforts on social media and online in general aren't that straightforward as you would think. Yes they have to recruit new members and tell existing member about how useful the association is, basically what value they can add to the member companies' business. Then they also want to communicate with the press, basically putting out stories about the industry and hopefully getting some good write-ups in traditional media (which is where most of the end-customers consume news still). Finally, they want to use social media as a lead generation tool for their member companies. This means they can pick up leads and enquiries from social media and distribute to relevant companies perhaps based on location. To sum up, trade associations have a three-pronged approach to social networking and we addressed a number of their challenges and how to overcome these.
We recognised that the most relevant social network for most of the associations is LinkedIn, as their their target audience consists of professionals. Some also use Twitter and very few use Facebook. LinkedIn is useful for community building with the members, LinkedIn groups are of course a great place to have industry discussions and to facilitate partnerships in the trade. Twitter does come in handy for reaching out to press, it's no secret journalists are all over Twitter. Finally, Facebook could be useful for lead generation in terms of creating communities around a topic area and attracting end-customers to it. This of course depends on the nature of the trade.
Here is a summary of the presentation I used yesterday, any questions just let me know.