4 Tips for Making Your Association Content Upworthy

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Is your social media content too conservative — even stuffy? Here’s how to make a big splash on social media while keeping your association’s professional image intact.

By Mary Hiers

You’ve worked hard to help your publications’ reputation for depth of thought and editorial integrity, but at the same time you’d like to take full advantage of social media so the mass market can discover your association content. Well, you’re in luck, because you absolutely can go viral without watering down your content — but a dry, stuffy approach to social media won’t get you there. Here are four ways you can make a big splash on social media while keeping your professional image intact.1. Mix deeper, longer articles with lighter updates. Some trade publications feel that they must maintain their image as an authoritative content provider by emphasizing longer, more in-depth articles at the expense of shorter, lighter posts, which they dismiss as fluff. To some extent, the numbers would seem to agree with this strategy as a means of getting that content shared more frequently; a BuzzSumo study of 100 million articles found that 3,000- to 10,000-word articles achieved nearly twice the share rate of articles under 1,000 words. But you must also consider those potential sharers who don’t have time to read a large chunk of content. You can maintain a higher online profile and reach a wider audience by posting a mix of longer authoritative articles and "fast” pieces.2. Consider visual impact. You can always spruce up the visual appeal of your online articles without sacrificing their editorial integrity in any way. Adding a dramatic photo for emphasis sharpens the impact of your words instead of diluting them. More importantly, it grabs the audience’s attention long enough to get them reading (and potentially sharing) the article.

How the piece is laid out can also have a profound impact on how readily people flock to it and pass it around the Web. A lengthy, detailed article may not grab your online audience’s attention if it takes the form of a solid wall of text. This approach may work for print pieces, but online readers are interested in content that’s easily digestible. Break up your article into bullet points or numbered lists, and you’ll present a much more user-friendly picture ready for sharing with a mass audience.

3. Piggyback on top influencers’ traffic. Going viral with an association article isn’t just a matter of posting serious, authoritative, compelling content; it’s also a matter of broadcasting that content to the widest number of viewers in the shortest period of time. To achieve this goal, look beyond your own readership to those of the top influencers in the relevant field or industry. These pundits have vast armies of loyal followers who can take a popular post viral pretty much at will. You can attract the attention of these top influencers without sullying your publications’ integrity. If they’re relevant in your industry, then it’s perfectly natural that you might write an article featuring their latest endeavors or success stories. It’s also perfectly natural that they’ll want to take that story and run with it. Enjoy the ride!

4. Schedule strategically. Choose the right time to post to each of your channels. The bigger a splash you can make with your posts in the first few seconds that they hit the Web, the better chance you have of getting tons of social media shares and likes. But that means knowing when you should upload posts for maximum effect, and understanding that each social media channel has different peak traffic days and times.There are some general trends you can expect, of course. For example, Fridays are generally not a good day to share association updates, simply because people aren’t as likely to be concerned about business-related matters when they’re thinking about the weekend ahead. Nighttime postings also tend to capture relatively few eyeballs on any social media channel.

But there are also some specific waves you can ride by scheduling your updates wisely. For example, if you’re posting to LinkedIn, you’ll want to do so on Tuesdays through Thursdays to get the most attention. Peak times for Twitter posts are Monday through Thursday in the early afternoon hours. Afternoon Facebook posts attain higher average click-through rates than those posted at other times of the day.

Take these tips to heart, and you’ll find that your publication has a better chance of going viral without sacrificing its relevance or reputation.

Mary Hiers is a freelance writer based in the Nashville area. This article first appeared on

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