There's no doubt that social media has become an integral part of our daily lives, revolutionizing the way we connect and communicate. Whether you are a professional, trade or community-based association, no one can afford to ignore the potential benefits of having a robust social media strategy.

Social media sites such as Facebook, X (formerly Twitter) and TikTok have evolved from the status update, picture and video sharing sites they were once intended for. You can't scroll through your Facebook timeline without seeing countless advertisements. You can't watch a football game without a few viral moments occurring on X (See: Taylor Swift's "seemingly ranch" NFL frenzy or Pop-Tart's edible mascot at the College Football Pop-Tart Bowl generating $12.1 million in media exposure). And you can't watch more than a video or two on your TikTok For You page without the app trying to sell you something.

Associations need effective strategies to utilize all that social media has to offer. A strong social campaign can lead to the viral moments mentioned above, boost engagement, increase visibility, foster community, and connect prospective and current members like never before. Read on to learn more about why you should be utilizing social media sites for your association, and how to get started.

The why

Visibility and reach

Social media platforms serve as global communication hubs, offering associations an unprecedented opportunity to enhance their visibility and extend their reach. By strategically leveraging platforms like Facebook, X, LinkedIn and Instagram, associations can connect with a diverse audience, reaching individuals who might not have otherwise been aware of their existence. Increased visibility translates into a broader impact, allowing you to amplify your message, initiatives and advocacy efforts.

Build your community

Associations thrive on community engagement. Social media provides a virtual space where members can connect, share ideas and engage in meaningful conversations. Building a community on social platforms fosters a sense of belonging among members. Regular updates, discussions and shared content strengthen the bond between not only members, but members and the association itself.

Real-time updates

In a world where information travels at the speed of light, associations need to stay relevant and responsive. Social media allows for real-time communication, giving associations the opportunity to share updates, news and announcements instantly. Whether it's responding to industry trends, addressing member concerns or promoting time-sensitive events, social media ensures that you can keep your audience informed and promptly engaged.

Useful data

Social media platforms offer a number of analytics tools that provide valuable insights into audience behavior, engagement patterns and content performance. Associations can leverage this data to make informed decisions about their communication strategies. By understanding what resonates with your audience, you can fine-tune your content and engagement approaches and learn what is most effective.

The how

Start with the basics

As social media evolves and more and more networking platforms are being created it may seem hard to keep up. Choose which networks to use and stick with them, filling out your profiles with your logo, tagline, mission statement and contact information so that people know who you are and what you're about. It's also helpful to follow other relevant profiles, such as peer and sister organizations, and leaders in your space to help keep up with the latest industry trends. Social media accounts need followers, so encourage your staff, colleagues and members to follow and like your profiles and posts.

Consistency is key

Focus on consistency and quality. Plan ahead to create a content calendar, as far too often associations will have bursts of social media activity followed by long periods of inactivity, which leads to low engagement and prompts members to forget about or unfollow your accounts.

Find your social voice

Developing a distinct voice and tone on social media is essential for your association's brand and identity, and to connect authentically with your audience. Understand your target audience and find a tone that will resonate with them. Whether it's adopting a friendly and conversational approach or a more formal and professional tone, using consistent language, style and messaging across all social media channels helps reinforce the brand's identity.

Have a clear objective

Are you using social media to recruit prospective members, engage current members or increase brand awareness? Keep these goals and objectives top of mind as you plan and create content so you can easily measure your association's success.

A strong social media strategy is key

In today's digital era, staying competitive requires embracing technological advancements. If you neglect what social media has to offer, you risk falling behind those that have successfully integrated these platforms into their strategies. A well-executed social media strategy is not just a bonus — now-of-days it's a necessity for associations aiming to stay relevant, competitive, and influential in their respective industries.