Effective Social Media Marketing for Associations: A Case Study.

For many associations, social media prowess is something they wish for, but don’t take action to achieve. Here’s how ASIS International improved their social audience by mapping out a strategy, posting consistently, and using analytics to help refine their process.
The Falcon Team
March 29, 2021 - 4 min. read

Editor’s note: This blog post was originally posted on the ASAE blog by Gabriella Lehimdjian, sharing their experience from using Falcon to optimize their social efforts and in the process uncovering ASIS’s social media sweet spots.

For years, many associations have struggled with optimizing their social media presence. Why? To be honest, many have never invested time or money in optimizing social media. As a result, established associations find it difficult to ‘step out of the box,’ not having seen social media as a priority. As much as people may complain about the influence social media has on society, we cannot ignore the significant role it plays in our world, including for associations when it comes to branding, sales, learning, and communications.

For ASIS International (the largest membership association for security professionals), engaging with their social audience was paramount—security management professionals think fast, act fast, and move fast. ASIS wanted a social strategy that matched that speed. With members in 158 countries, the other consideration for ASIS was figuring out how to leverage their social channels in a way that felt inclusive and showcased the diversity of their membership. What ASIS concluded was that they needed a dedicated staffer who could analyze data, iterate as needed, and execute a more robust social media plan. That is where Communications Manager, Gabriella Lehimdjian, came in.

Maximizing Social

When Gabriella came on board at the start of a global pandemic, she found that ASIS had a strong social media presence (e.g., just over 100,000 followers across LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube), but the team all agreed that it wasn’t being fully maximized. Her plan, along with her fellow communications colleagues, was to take stock of the social media tools at their fingertips, work cross-departmentally on a regular basis to ensure no promotions would slip through the cracks, and engage with our 34,000 plus members and their social media audience to communicate key messages and learn from their engagement.

“The key for us was not assuming anything about the metrics until they were in front of us. We experimented, analyzed, and experimented again until we found our various social sweet spots for each platform.”

First, they set monthly meetings with each department—including learning, membership, business development, and marketing—to check-in and discuss what upcoming initiatives they needed support with. In addition to their goal of increasing their social strength (e.g., followers, engagement, and so forth) and their goal of getting people to answer calls to action (CTA), we also wanted to learn what social media insights they were most interested in. These insights could help inform their decisions. They began sharing the information they requested, as well as the results of specific campaigns, monthly.

Next, Gabriella created campaigns for each initiative, instead of sharing ‘one-off’ posts like in the past. The assumption was that consistency and repetition would help their audience remember their messages. She also began applying Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) codes to every campaign. These codes can be added to any URL to track clicks and performance of marketing activities. Each campaign had its own UTM code for each social channel so they could track its success on each platform. Using Google Analytics, the team found out how many times people clicked on links and if/what actions they took after doing so. Finding an easy and efficient social media management platform is very helpful. Gabriella had used different platforms in the past, but the team settled on Falcon for ASIS. It checked more of the user-friendly boxes than any other solution, allowing them to organize their campaigns and schedule posts more efficiently.

Lastly, they analyzed (not just collected) the metrics available to them through Falcon and their social channels themselves to determine what was working and what wasn’t. This included looking at what campaign subjects had been shared, the photos included in the posts, the day/times they were published, and how often. To increase their CTA success rate, they would assess, analyze, and adjust the above factors accordingly as they moved through the year. In short, the team performed educated experiments based on what they were seeing. 

Initial Results

After six months, the team discovered that their engagement rate had grown well above average. A study by Forrester determined that LinkedIn’s average engagement rate is 0.054 percent and Facebook’s is 0.073 percent. According to Rival IQ, the average engagement rate on Instagram is 0.98 percent and Twitter’s is 0.045 percent. The ASIS team is performing 29 times higher than average on LinkedIn, 8.5 times higher on Facebook, 13 times higher on Twitter, and 3.9 times higher on Instagram. “We are proud that our social media channels have grown so much that they now reach a diverse, global, and security-minded audience of more than 140,000 professionals from 100-plus industries,” says Gabriella. 

“The key for us was not assuming anything about the metrics until they were in front of us. We experimented, analyzed, and experimented again until we found our various social sweet spots for each platform. We will continue to experiment and analyze our strategy and processes related to execution, but for now, our sweet spots have made a significantly positive impact on our results,” she continued.