Do you want to grow your chamber? Are you doing content marketing?
Let me ask you this… Do you have a best friend?
Are you thinking about them now?
What about your favorite teacher? How about your favorite neighbor?
All great people, right?
But at one point they were strangers to you.
At one point in your life, you had no idea about the impact they’d make on your world. At one point they were just unknown faces in a crowd.
They bring so much value to your life but at one point, they were just another faceless fellow driver on the road of life.
And now you can’t imagine life without them.
Wouldn’t it be great if your members and customers (community members) felt that way about the chamber? The type of relationship where they would feel a little lost without you?
Where they kinda… love you?
But that’s a pipe dream, right?
Chambers are achieving this through “Content Marketing” and it is helping them grow their chamber.
But only if the chambers have a lot of time on their hands, right? After all, content marketing takes a lot of time. And people can only do those sorts of things with a hotshot chamber staff.
Content marketing can be done with very little time and money.
Have you ever heard a financial planner say it’s not the money you make but the money you have going out that matters?
Well, it’s the same with this type of marketing strategy.
It’s not the time you have, but what you do with it.
If you want to be successful in content marketing, if you want to get more members from it, increase attendance at events, improve member retention, have your members feel like they would be lost without you–whatever your goals, you need to do two things:
- First: create awareness (people have to be aware of your chamber)
- Second: build a relationship (they need to know, like, and trust your chamber)
Oh, is that all? You might be asking. Sure. Simple … like building the Taj Mahal one brick at a time.
But what if we told you we already had the blueprints? And the materials? And we put them together for you? We did the labor and the heavy lifting?
The Taj Mahal seems a little easier now, doesn’t it?
Although maybe not believable.
Except this is already being done by a lot of chambers.
In this article, we’ll share best practices and examples of content marketing that work and we’ll explain the magic behind them so that you can recreate the results of these successful chambers.
Content Marketing Begins with Awareness
The first thing you need is your target market to be aware of you. They need to know about you.
Otherwise you are invisible to them.
But because of the fire hydrant of noise we hear every day, your prospects and members may seem to act like that teenager with headphones on when it’s garbage day. They tune us out and getting their attention requires more than just shouting.
In social media, “shouting” equates to those people who keep posting the same old “loud” message about themselves. Their events. Their benefits.
It doesn’t motivate the teen to take out the garbage and it won’t motivate your audience either.
They’ll tune you out, causing your social media activities to be a complete time suck.
There’s another obstacle in your way when you’re trying to build awareness.
The Gatekeeper: Facebook and Its Friends
The social media platforms themselves are making your quest to reach prospects and members much more difficult.
What? But those tools are supposed to help.
It’s true. They can help you reach a lot of people (create awareness) but only if you know how to work with the social media platforms.
Facebook, for example, won’t show your posts to everyone who follows you or should be seeing your posts. No matter how many times you post it or how many exclamation points you use.
Facebook knows that people aren’t on their platform to be sold to, promoted to, or otherwise bothered by your chamber’s marketing.
So they’ve put up blocks to keep your content from reaching people. They assume you are the type of dirty, self-centered marketer who only wants to talk about themselves.
Facebook ensures people can’t see your posts until they engage and interact with your content. But how can they engage and interact with your content if they don’t see it?
Ahhh, there’s the rub. Facebook (and the other platforms) is the gatekeeper that stands between your content and your prospects and members.
So how do you defeat that gatekeeper and ensure your content is helping you create the awareness you want?
The key to by-passing the wretched gatekeeper is to do content marketing because that is what your audience wants, content.
So how do you do that?
Content Marketing Posts
The Three Es
Every content marketing posts should do at least one of the following:
- entertain: make them smile or laugh. Evoke emotion.
- encourage/inspire: help them dream and believe. Give hope.
- educate: expand their minds. People crave info and knowledge.
Content marketing posts should also have a thumb-stopping image or something that catches their eye.
You need to stop people in their tracks.
More about that in the tips below.
11 Content Marketing Tips for Chambers…
#1 Think Entire Community
Don’t limit yourself to posting just for members. You have an entire community that can benefit from your chamber content and do business with you.
Are your members the only ones you want to be inspired? Are they the only ones you want to see thrive?
You have products and services that appeal to the entire community (think of festivals, non-dues revenue, sponsorships, or chamber trips). So stop thinking small and expand your reach.
Take a look at this content marketing post that is entertaining and applies to a wide range of people.
It garnered 63 comments. Way more than the average chamber post.
#2 Participate in Conversations They Are Having
Your prospects and members always have something on their mind. Take holidays, for instance.
Always post on holidays–the national, “Hallmark”, and Internet ones. Your national holidays are the ones you’ll find on any calendar that generally involve large celebrations, business closures, and days off. These include Christmas and Veteran’s Day.
The “Hallmark” holidays are the ones that don’t involve days off but they’re celebrated at a retail level. They can still be a big deal even if they don’t involve time off. Holidays in this category include Valentine’s Day, President’s Day, and St. Patrick’s Day.
Internet holidays are the fun national and international days that spread like wildfire online. Examples of this include National Pizza Day and Talk Like a Pirate Day. You can have a lot of fun with them.
Posting to holidays is entertaining and people love to join in, sharing the post and commenting.
Take a look at this inspirational (and seasonal) content marketing post. It’s an ideal post for the beginning of the fall when everyone is talking about pumpkin everything.
Check out the engagement numbers. 32 reactions!
#3 Join In and Be Human
Do you remember the question burning up social media, Laurel or Yanni? Or what about the color of that dress? Did we ever figure it out? Don’t be afraid to get involved with the conversations that are already occurring online even if they don’t feel like business. It shows you’re part of the conversation and human.
Be one of the cool kids with an open spot at your lunch table.
Your goal on social media is not to show how business-y your chamber can be. You want to show you’re just one of the cool kids with a spot at their cafeteria table and you don’t do that by being all business all the time.
As a twist on what Mark Schaefer wrote in his book the Marketing Rebellion, “The most human chamber wins.”
This post helps unite people under a common interest, reading.
Notice it asks a question and had 54 comments/answers!
#4 Be Consistent
Maintain a consistent posting schedule and people will come to count on you and your content.
Don’t do a disappearing act with your audience. That only works for magicians. The average person on social media won’t wonder where you are.
If you’re not there, your place will be filled.
If you’re wondering how long that will take, get a bucket. Fill it with water. Put your arm in it. Remove your arm. How long did it take for that water to fill in the spot where your arm used to be? Now cut that time in half and you can begin to understand the impact of your lack of participation online. It will be there whether your arm (and you) are a part of it or not.
#5 Be Everywhere
Back in the early 80s in Philadelphia, there was a commercial for Action News that showed their news van covering a host of different events and being seen on every road. In the commercial, each time the news van appeared in another scene, a different voice could be heard saying “There’s that news van again.”
Action News wanted the community to know they were everywhere making sure they were delivering the events as they unfolded.
You need to do the same online. You want to be everywhere. Be where your audience is. As Mae West used to say,
“Out of site is out of mind. And out of mind is out of money, honey.”
If people only see you on Facebook every Tuesday, for instance, they’ll quickly forget about you. But if every time they turn around, there you are, they’ll quickly be saying, “There’s that chamber again.” And they’ll know you’re everywhere in the community, which translates to you are the community. Not a bad thought.
If your audience doesn’t know where you are, they won’t look for you. They’re not your mom.
They’ll move on.
#6 Post Multiple Times a Day
Some chamber pros worry they’re posting too often. If you’re posting just about yourself and how amazing you are, even one time is too much. But if you’re educating, entertaining, and encouraging, multiple times a day is a good idea.
People don’t get tired of organizations who provide them with something that they need.
But worrying about posting too much is not the only reason chamber professionals don’t post multiple times a day. The bigger reason is usually time and content.
The main reason people don’t post enough: To create a good post that will get engagement takes time, even if you’re using a scheduling app to do the heavy lifting. Posting three times a day is not too much. That means at least 15 times a week. More if you post on weekends too.
Let’s say you are really quick and create posts in three minutes. That’s almost ten minutes out of your day just creating and posting. And that’s if you’re speedy!
Now let’s factor in how long it takes you to come up with the content outside of the actual posting side. How long is that? Five minutes? That means each post is closing in on ten minutes from idea to creation to posting.
Now you’ve lost 30 minutes out of your day just to social media posting.
Super secret chamber social media strategy: Want more mileage off of a post that’s doing well? Instead of setting aside a time to answer all of your comments, visit the post, answer a few, and come back later. The reason you do this is because each time you comment, Facebook will place your post at the top of some of your viewers’ feeds. If you answer all 20 of your comments at once, you’re only getting one push to the top. If you answer a few and then pop into a meeting and then answer a few more later, you’ll get several pushes to the top and have more of a chance for greater reach.
#7 Aim for Interaction: stop, drop, and roll
Quality posts take time to create. More time than you probably have, if we’re being completely open about it. We have a time-saving solution that we’ll address later.
But your content has to be soooo good that it stops a thumb, which everyone knows is one of the fastest internet-adept body parts in the world.
Do you remember the advice about putting out a fire? Stop, drop, and roll, right?
The same advice could be used for your social media posts. You need to:
- Stop: make their thumbs stop, or stop them from clicking onto the next shiny object
- Drop: they need to drop what they’re doing to digest your quality content that delivers on something they need
- Roll: you want them to roll right into engaging with you so you need to ask them a question so that they go from a passive action of reading or looking at your content to interacting with it
Super secret chamber social media strat: Use questions like “What’s your take?,” “What do you think?” “Have you found that to be true?,” or “What’s your opinion?” to get engagement so more people will see your content in the future.
This post asks for interaction AND makes the most of the local community.
#8 Use Hashtags
Hashtags help people see the content they’re most interested in.
Every chamber should use hashtags on social media.
Doing so will expand your reach and help you locate past content easier.
You need your own specialized hashtag just for your chamber or event as well as use hashtags that make sense in your post.
#9 Break the Ice
At some point in middle school, most people stop wanting to go first when answering a question. Visit a kindergarten classroom and ask a question, even one above their heads, and hands will shoot up. They just love to hear their own voice at that age.
At around eleven, we realize that going first to answer a question means we could be wrong or worse–made fun of. And most of us never regain that confidence of being five again.
If you ask your audience a question on social media, be the first one to share your opinion or answer. Break the ice for them.
If you’re tired of going first, line up a staff member, good friend, or chamber ambassador to post their response. When others see it, they’ll join in.
Super secret chamber social media strat: recruit some social media champions to chime in with answers, comments, shares, and other interactions for each post. People want to be part of a crowd and recruiting “interactors” will help create that. Chamber content marketing is a team effort.
#10 Share the Posts
Building on the suggestion above about asking others to share, you should as well. Facebook, the gatekeeper, bases its algorithm on magical fairy dust and post interaction. Since we can’t get our hands on the fairy dust, we’ll concentrate on interactions and shares.
Share it to your chamber profile page, your personal page, any community page that may be fitting (as might be the case for a community event), and encourage staff members and chamber board and ambassadors to do the same.
Also, share your posts as Stories.
Click the share button as your profile as discover all the ways you can share now.
To the Facebook gatekeeper, a share is a “vote” for good content.
Super secret chamber social media strategy: post it to your profile and then share the post from you personally. Sometimes seeing a face and not an organization behind a post gets more shares.
Some chamber execs feel a little bashful about sharing to their personal profile but here is the kind of question you can feel useful about sharing.
It unites a community, invites stories, and can be answered by anyone, regardless of background or location.
Look at the interaction. 90 comments. This would be a great post to share personally.
#11 Don’t Mix Messages
Use the 80/20 rule for posting.
While your content should always be high-quality content that appeals to your audience, sometimes (about 20% of the time after you’ve posted a lot of content), you can ask for something of your audience.
Remember, this is social media, not sales media.
Avoid heavy-handed sales talk. Present your call to action and tell them why it’s valuable.
That’s all they need to make a decision if you’ve taken the time to build the relationship, which we’ll get to in the next section.
More on Engagement and Relationship Building
Very few people will join an organization they know little about.
In the first section, we covered how to build awareness and get engagement through content marketing.
Now we’re going to cover how to leverage that awareness and engagement into building the type of relationship that will drive people to join your ranks, attend your events, take you trips, or participate in some other way.
DANGER! DANGER! DANGER!
How to Kill a Relationship in 8 Posts
People do business and join organizations they know, like, and trust.
The first step of awareness achieved the “know” part of this membership equation.
Now let’s discuss the like and trust portion.
Some people think social media and chamber content marketing best practices are confusing. But they’re really just based on the basics of good social interaction.
If you want people to like and trust you, be human and helpful.
If you want to drive them away, do the following:
- Post only in monologues. Don’t pay attention to what others are thinking, wanting, or needing. Make every post just about you. Remember, dialogues build relationships. If you have a dialogue, you’ll build a relationship.
- Ignore any comments or questions. If they engage with your post, remember you know best. This is your platform. Who wants to hear others talk? If you must do something, just hit the like button. they don’t know what they’re saying anyway.
- Hide behind the chamber page. Don’t ever post from your personal profile. People might think you care, especially if you’re the chamber CEO or Executive Director. If someone sees that the chamber leader responded to something they said, they’ll likely feel valued and extremely happy that the head of the chamber took a personal interest in them. Then they might want to tell other people about the chamber and then more people would want to talk to you.
- Use robotic language. People love when you copy and paste responses. Nobody should personally respond to anything. It just makes people like you and it’s much more efficient to say the same thing to everyone. Why would you want them to think you’re listening to them?
- Keep people from talking to one another on your chamber page. Delete all interactions between members. You don’t want them to build a community or tribe. Then they’d be a part of something.
- Post sales-y messages. All. the. time.
- Don’t give anyone any reason to say good things about you. Word of mouth marketing is the most powerful kind of marketing out there. If people talk about how awesome you are, others will want to join. Who wants that?
- Talk about what you want to, not what your audience wants to hear. It’s your page. Do what you want. Talk about yourself. If you pay attention to what your audience wants and involve them in conversation, you’ll end up building a relationship and might get more members, which will mean more revenue and having to send out more invoices. That’s more work.
If you want to build a relationship that will help you improve your reach on social media and develop great chamber content marketing practices, you don’t really want to do any of those things.
You do want to:
- encourage dialogue
- address and engage with all comments and questions
- respond from your personal page to make posters feel really important
- use human language
- encourage interaction among posters, get a conversation started so they can begin to build a tribe
- refrain from an overabundance of sale-y language
- attain more word-of-mouth referrals by delighting your members and community with the things they find value in
- give your audience content they love and pay attention to what gets the most interaction
- make people feel good
Good Content (and Marketing) Takes a Long Time to Create
If you’re tight on time at your chamber–and who isn’t–you need top-notch chamber-specific content in a hurry. But you don’t want to run the risk of using content from questionable sources or ones that will get you into “permission” issues.
And you need content that resonates. You don’t want to waste time experimenting with what might get reach and engagement.
You want something you know will work.
Chamber pros have always been masters of efficiency and really good with managing slim budgets and limited resources.
That’s one of the reasons that so many chamber professionals have turned to the Content Marketing Bundle Program.
Such as Stacy…
Every week these smart chamber pros use their time more efficiently by getting great pre-made content.