Why Chambers Need a Strong Digital Presence
By Brandon Burton, in partnership with Chamber Chat Podcast
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
In today’s world, everyone has a smartphone with them at all times. Thanks to social media and text messaging, we all look to our tiny screens to pass time. If your chamber has not been fully immersed in creating a strong digital presence, then you are missing a huge segment of your community.
Mobile is everywhere
Next time you are out in public, take a look at the people around you. Look at your own behaviors with your smartphone. Most of society are consumers of digital content. For some this comes in the form of social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram. For the younger generation the trend is currently TikTok and YouTube. Podcasting is the digital platform for audio content that people can consume while doing many other tasks at the same time. The gateway to almost everything digital today is done through a mobile app.
I have yet to come across a chamber in the last five years that doesn’t at least have a Facebook page. Most will also have a website. I would suggest that these are the most basic digital platforms to utilize and they also have the lowest barrier to entry. I once heard a quote that said “the lower the barrier, the greater the competition”. There is a lot more ‘noise’ at the lower barrier of entry levels. The Facebook page and website are important digital marketing tools. I believe tools are designed to leverage your efforts.
Leverage Print Media
For example, printed publications are still very popular in the chamber world. They are great producers of non-dues revenue and can often have a digital counterpart. The digital side of your printed publications should be amplified on your website and social media to further spread the distribution of your publications.
I would also encourage your members who advertise in your printed publications to leverage their advertising using digital. They can do this by sharing a picture of their ad in your chamber directory on their social media pages and tag your chamber in the post. You can take it a step further by encouraging them to use a specific hashtag to further promote the publication.
Repurpose Other Chamber Content
The same is true with other chamber content. Your website and social media pages should be used to amplify your message. Your digital presence will be much stronger as you identify ways to broadcast your traditional/analog efforts.
If you have a podcast, post each episode to your social pages. Tag any guests in the social media posts as well as their company. Your website could have a dedicated section that points to your past podcast episodes with show notes and links to relevant content and sponsorship partners.
If you have a YouTube channel, the same practice can be applied. YouTube will also allow you to have ‘in video links’ to other relevant content you have on YouTube. You can embed certain videos on your website and share your videos on your social media networks.
As you get caught up in the digital craze, don’t forget the importance of the written word. That is by the way how you are consuming this content right now. Blog posts for longer form messaging can still be highly effective and could be a source of non-dues revenue with sponsorships. You can share your blog posts on social media.
I recently worked on a project with a homeowners association. This was a monthly magazine that was mailed to the homeowners. With a younger demographic moving into the community and in an effort to gain more advertising revenue we decided to leverage digital. We decided to repurpose the articles that were already in the printed magazine as individual blog posts. This allowed us to insert additional advertising content and it allowed the HOA to reach a new, younger audience.
However you choose to approach your creation and distribution of digital content, it is critical to have a plan. Creating a frequency for digital content will help you stay on track. Oftentimes you can repurpose content in multiple ways. I would encourage you to create a content calendar to plot out how you are putting out content in a strategic way. Izzy West spoke about this in a past podcast episode.
As you create your content calendar, see where you can spread some of your content creation. Maybe staff members could be responsible for different platforms or types of content. You may be able to utilize a board member, ambassador, or another volunteer. One unique way of creating content is to use your members. Holly Allen talked about this in my interview with her as she talked about how her chamber was marketing the thought leadership of their members. Essentially, their members became the experts on certain topics that their chamber then shared on their different platforms.
I will share a personal thought. As you plan deliberate content, consider the platform. For example, people tend to turn to Facebook to tune out, not to tune in to a message from the chamber. However, a platform like podcasting and YouTube have active subscribers who tune into and subscribe to hear from people and organizations like you. I would not rely solely on Facebook and a website as your digital footprint.
The bottom line is that if you are not actively thinking about a strong digital presence, you will inevitably miss out on opportunities. We are living in a digital first world now where people turn to their phones for answers, information, and entertainment. How is your chamber interacting with people on their tiny screens?