Do you need to learn or expand a skill, but aren’t interested in forking over the big bucks for training? Try joining a Google+ community.
Message boards and forums have long been on their way out. With Google+ communities, you can find like-minded individuals in your areas of interest that range from newbies to pros.
I am not a graphic designer or illustrator by trade, but I am interested in learning more about it as I often find myself needing to use software like Adobe Illustrator. And, while I have taken a few online courses through Lynda.com, my practical knowledge of Adobe Illustrator is limited.
What to do? What to do?
While touring around Google+, I was hearing a lot of buzz about the Communities feature. What a treasure trove I found!
I began joining several communities of interest to me. These included Social Media Marketing, Android and Adobe Illustrator Club. You find these communities to be categorized into several different topics, much like you would a message board or web forum. Beyond that, Google+ communities are leaps ahead of the old way of getting self help. Posting features like video, text, links, pictures and events make your experience on communities vastly superior to other “help” sites.
As I mentioned, the community is categorized by topics. You can interact in community discussions; view and share inspirational artwork; watch or make tutorials; grab a couple of freebies or see if there is an online or local event to attend. You can even search the community for a specific subject you are interested in learning more about. The search feature is powered by non other than the all-powerful Google, so you know its good. These categories are different for every community and are created by the community administrator.
Google+ communities have greatly increased my knowledge base and resources I need to do my job and support my hobbies and interests. You can even grow your personal and professional network as you make new acquaintances. This happened to me.
The Personal Touch
I had a question about Adobe Illustrator that needed answering. A fellow community member went out of his way to host a Google+ Hangout on Air to help me out. You can catch it here:
And that is another thing! The ability to connect “face-to-face” with another professional or enthusiast across the country and share your screen for demonstrations makes it all the better. I want to give a shout out to Bill Murphy who helped me and hosted this Google+ Hangout. You can find him by visiting his website www.billmurphy.ca. If you are into Adobe Illustrator or need someone to create stunning illustrations for you, he is well worth your time.
(This blog post is a supplement to my presentation given at the GSAE Annual Meeting on May 29, 2014 in Savannah, Georgia.)
Social media marketing, like regular communications and marketing, requires a lot of planning, time and resources to be executed effectively. This type of marketing can be especially difficult for associations where small staffs and limited volunteers are tasked with the big responsibility of engaging your audience (members and potential members) on the multitude of different social mediums that exist today. A whole separate blog post could be dedicated to whether your association should invest its social media muscle on specific platforms, but this post is for association management professionals who have two or three platforms that they utilize on a consistent basis for communicating with their audience and how they can maximize efficiency by “Cooking with IFTTT.”
IFTTT, pronounced like gift, but without the G, stands for “If this, then that.” According to IFTTT’s website, it is a service that lets you create powerful connections with that one simple statement, “If this, then that.”
We’re cooking what?
The entire “If this, then that” statement or equation is referred to as a recipe.
Anytime I create or borrow a recipe on IFTTT, I like to think I am cooking. Truly this is the only kind of cooking I do where something doesn’t end up bland or burnt. Pause as you take in the sarcasm and chuckle silently to yourself or hurl the metaphoric tomato as you contemplate the cheesy humor.
There are three main components of an IFTTT recipe; these are channels, triggers and actions.
The basic building blocks of IFTTT are channels.
Channels are the mediums of communication, tools or services found on IFTTT but offered through other online platforms. Looking at IFTTT from strictly a social media perspective, this would include examples like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. Channels can be both triggers or actions. IFTTT users access to more than 100 channels.
The If this portion of the statement involves the trigger. The trigger is what puts the entire IFTTT recipe into motion. For example, “If I tweet on Twitter.” In this example, Twitter is the channel being used, and the act of posting following certain parameters (see slide below) sets off this particular trigger.
Making a Trigger Fire
In this example the trigger can be set off by simply a new tweet, a tweet with a certain hashtag, a tweet from a certain location, a tweet with a link, anytime the user gets a new follower, or when the user favorites a tweet.
The then that component is the action. The action is what you would like IFTTT to do once a trigger has been detected. For example, “then post to Facebook.” In this instance, Facebook is the channel, and the post made to that channel is the action.
Ingredients are pieces of data from a trigger. In our Twitter example, this could be a tweet’s text, a tweet with no hashtag, the first link of a tweet, the username on the tweet account, a link to the tweet, the date and time it was created and/or the tweet embed code.
For those of us who aren’t up to speed on the Twitter lingo, you can use IFTTT for other services like email. Examples of ingredients from an email might be subject, body, attachment, received date, or sender’s address. Basically, ingredients are components that can be pulled from any of the available channels on IFTTT.
Ok, so I have all my components, how do I put it together?
Rather than bore you with all of the details, it may be a more efficient use of your time to review a great YouTube video explaining the whole process of putting together recipes.
Great, but what can I do with it?
There is no short answer to this question. With over 100 channels, it is a statistical quagmire to try and figure out the number of recipes you can create.
For association management professionals, I would encourage you to consider unique ways that you might leverage the platform to automate and simplify your social media communications you are already implementing at your association. Start by reviewing which, if any, social media platforms you are currently using to connect with your members. Once you have them listed out, you can use the IFTTT community to start gathering ideas.
You can browse the abundance of recipes being created by other IFTTT users by visiting https://ifttt.com/recipes.
I would recommend browsing the extensive library of IFTTT recipes using the list of social media platforms your association currently uses. The search tool on the recipes page is a great tool for quickly finding the most popular and best recipes out there by simply typing in the channel you are interested in using. Here are some suggested recipes quickly highlighted during my presentation:
In the examples from the slide above, I offer suggestions like posting all links shared on LinkedIn to Facebook; posting your tweets to LinkedIn; sending a LinkedIn post to Twitter; and posts from your association’s Facebook page to LinkedIn.
These are limited examples and may not apply to your association. Don’t assume that because these were the example that I give, that these should be the platforms and recipes you should be using with your association.
You can even go beyond these “traditional” platforms to include services like YouTube for your association’s videos, or expedite the sharing of your latest blog posts using the WordPress or RSS channels.
DON’T set it and forget it
Using IFTTT for your association’s social media isn’t a set it and forget it solution. Social media is about conversation. This requires you or your assigned staff or volunteer(s) to continuously monitor your channels looking for your audience members that have engaged with your message and interacting. This can be done by answering their questions, asking questions of your own or simply liking what they may post in response.
At the GSAE Annual Meeting Dianna Hairfield covered the basics of platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. Christina Bowerman demonstrated how you might leverage platforms like Hootsuite to monitor your platforms, communicate across multiple platforms, schedule tweets and posts to stay on top of your Association’s social media message. IFTTT is simply another tool you can use as part of your social media toolkit to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of your online campaigns.
But, we’ve got nothing…
If posts, tweets and group discussions aren’t in your lexicon yet, that is ok. Start putting some thoughtful consideration into which platforms your members are on, and in what ways those platforms can help you achieve your association’s mission. Then align your association’s social media strategy with specific goals from your association’s strategic plan. Don’t worry, you too can be up and cooking in no time.
I hope this post has been helpful to seasoned social media professionals and newbies alike. Maybe for association’s thinking about taking the plunge into social media, tools like IFTTT make the task seem not so daunting. Not only is IFTTT a powerful tool for social media communications, it is fun too! There are so many other Easter eggs waiting to be found, so go explore. Who knows, maybe you will have the next great IFTTT recipe that everyone just has to have. Happy cooking!