May 22, 2009

Awesome Use of Twitter

I am a HUGE fan of Southwest Airlines, as if you couldn't tell by this post. Not only is their company culture a beacon for people who love to be in a fun and exciting workplace that fosters innovation (see the rapping SWA flight attendant on YouTube), but the company also really gets social media.

They have an awesome blog called Nuts About Southwest, and I just noticed that they have created an "Emerging Media" department with the company. Awesomesauce.

They also regularly use Twitter with the name @southwestair, and recently in conjunction with National Travel & Tourism Week, did a photo hunt in which they used Twitter's photo site Twitpic to solicit photos of travelers with very specific things. One day they requested a photo of someone with a SWA flight attendant in uniform. Another day, it was someone next to the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign.

They awarded two free airline tickets to the first person who sent a photo to Twitpic using the #SWAPhoto hashtag with the very specific thing. It was SUCH a great way to involve their followers in something fun, and provide them with rewards for doing so. I know I was always watching for the request to see if I could win. They always tweeted the winner's name to give them the recognition, and are always interacting with their followers and non-followers who post about the company in Twitter.

I guess the moral to this story is that when you can create an experience using Twitter or other social media tools where your followers are engaged, excited, and know that you're authentic, you have created something with stickiness that you may not be able to get in the offline world. Social media tools make interacting with your public so much easier, and companies like Southwest have really taken that to heart by creating engaging and exciting ways for people to connect with them.

How is your association going to follow this lead?

May 19, 2009

Clearly Communicating the Message

When thinking about messages that you're trying to convey, make sure they're crystal clear... There are numerous examples out there about how people have gotten it wrong, and sometimes, it's something so simple that would make it better and clearer.

I was in a hotel recently on one of my trips, and I saw this sign as I was getting off the elevator:

Ok... So I guess they are assuming that everyone will look at the sign and think that the Ice and Beverages are the same way as 402-430 (which was correct). When I saw this, I thought, "why didn't they just add one more arrow to make it clearer instead of having Ice and Beverages floating without any direction?" It would have been so simple, but for some reason, they thought that having people assume would be the better option.

I guess my point is that when thinking about how you're communicating something, think about ways to make it as clear as possible. The people on the receiving end (or who are getting out of the elevator looking for a cold beverage) will thank you!

May 12, 2009

Personalizing Membership

It's not everyday when you have something crystalize as clearly as what I am thinking about today - personalizing membership. I've seen it at work in my own organization, as well as a professional development organization of which I am a part, during just the first four hours of my day.

My first example is in my own organization. We having our biennial convention this summer, and are in the recruitment mode for additional attendees. We have a great deal of folks already registered (which is really great with this economy), but now it's time to really hit the phones and reach out to the people we know are regular attendees who have yet to register. So how have we decided to do it? You guessed it - by finding that one person who really has the pull with the people we are targeting in order to ensure that they are going to attend.

We talked about with whom our Board members should connect, thus mobilizing our volunteers. We discussed who we know are regular attendees that we on the staff have personal relationships with, and have begun making our calls. Our undergraduate chapters are receiving continued outreach from their specific staff contact to encourage them to attend. It's all in an effort to really put a personal touch on our recruitment efforts.

I believe it really makes the member feel as though they're wanted there as opposed to receiving the bulk marketing materials that we usually do that aren't necessarily so effective. We have communicated through mass outreach efforts for a long time, but with today's culture and member, we know that we need to adapt to take advantage of the fact that making the experience as personal as possible is really needed.

The other example that I ran into this morning was with one of professional development organizations. They were doing their annual renewal drive, and while I did get three letters reminding me that my membership was expiring, what really got me off my butt was the personal phone call from the staff member with whom I work regularly. I immediately renewed after his call.

If it would have been a call from some random staff member, I don't know that I would have been so eager to renew, especially since I hadn't gotten the go ahead to use my professional development money for it through my office. With the economy, we have really been trying to save, and professional development is an area where we're trying to do so.

I guess I just think it was a nice touch to know that the staff member with whom I work regularly wanted me to renew. Even for someone who knows that it was something that they had done just like we had (i.e. divided up the list by who they had personal relationships with), I thought it was good to get that personal call. The innocuous letters letting me know of the impending expiration hadn't done it, but the personal call did the trick.

I guess the lesson here is not that new - people like to be treated as though they're the only member of your association. By making the experience personal, they will be more engaged, appreicate the association's efforts more, and be the raving fan that you need in your corner when something happens and you need them to be there!