As an association professional, you wear many, many hats. You’re in charge of marketing, events, fundraising, advocacy – and that’s just the beginning!

Having your hand in so many aspects of an organization is hard for many reasons, but one in particular is the fact that you can’t necessarily specialize in one particular segment (simply for lack of time). And as a result, mistakes happen.

We want to help you minimize those mistakes. So today, we’re honing in on marketing and identifying four common mistakes for associations to avoid:

1. Using too many hashtags

If your association is active on social media, good for you! Seriously, it’s something ALL organizations should be doing. But one mistake we see many organizations make is using too many hashtags, particularly on Twitter and Instagram.

First, let us just say that hashtags are GOOD. They’re how you insert your organization into larger conversations and get your messages in front of people who don’t necessarily follow (or know about) your organization in the first place. But yes, there is such a thing as too many hashtags. See, when you use too many hashtags, your messages become hard to read and can come off as, well, a little spammy. Plus, the more hashtags you use, the less likely people are to retweet that particular message.

So, a good rule of thumb to keep engagement and retweets high: three hashtags or less. (Note: There are always exceptions to this, so just use your best judgement!)

2. Creating and relying on long forms

Does your association have forms on its website? We’re not necessarily talking about member applications – that’s a different story. Rather, forms to get in touch or download content? If so, how long are those forms currently?

A big mistake that many associations (and companies) make is creating forms that are simply too long; asking for too much information upfront. A good rule of thumb, in general, is to keep your forms to four fields or less. Why? Well, a lot of people coming to your organization’s website are going to be coming from a mobile device, and if they see more than four fields on a form, they’re likely to abandon that page before completing the process. (That’s just too much information to fill out on such a tiny screen.)

Play it safe and keep your forms short. Remember, you can always ask for more information later!

3. Not paying attention to data

We KNOW you’re busy, but putting data analysis on the backburner is such a costly mistake. Every time you post on social media or send an email, you’re hoping for certain results: likes, comments, opens, click-throughs, etc. By analyzing certain data, you can GET better results. Sure, it takes time, but trust us – it’s worth it!

Now if your concern is, “My data’s all over the place!,” rest assured, you’re not alone. But to overcome that issue, you may want to consider some kind of all-in-one system, such as an association management system. By housing everything in one place – your database, website, email marketing, etc. – your data will be housed in one place as well. You’ll be able to easily run reports, see what’s working and what’s not, and make pretty impactful improvements to your association.

4. Keeping your content and messaging “strictly business”

Managing an association is a lot like managing a business, and it can be easy to get caught up in that “business-only” mind-set. (Communicating messages in a very straightforward manner.)

But as association professionals, you’re in the people business. And if you really want people to connect with your association (and stay with your association), you need to convey a little personality. Now we’re not saying you have to be funny all the time or super cutesy, but just make an effort to show that there are REAL people behind your organization.

For example…

  • Did one of your staff members just get a new puppy? Did they bring that puppy into the office? Snap a quick pic and post it on social media! (Who doesn’t love a good animal photo?! Example below.)

Tuck Pic

  • In your organization’s newsletter (and on your blog, if you have one), use light, fun language. Make it conversational! Below is an example from the California Society of Association Executives’ newsletter. (See how they said peeps instead of people? It just lightens the mood so much more!)

CalSAE Newsletter Example

By showing a little personality, you’re bound to see an increase in online engagement. Give it a shot and see how people respond!

For more tips on how to take your association’s marketing up a notch – from your website and email to social media and referrals – check out our free Small-Staff Guide to Association Marketing below!