Association Social Media: The American Institute of Architects (AIA)
SEPTEMBER 10, 2014
'In this series of interviews of Association Social Media Managers, you’ll be able to compare notes on what all of these fab organizations are doing with their social media management – from how they organize the roles and responsibilities, to how they manage content flow through the organization and out to social, to what campaigns they tried, to how they see the future of association social media. . ——————— Please welcome Sybil Walker Barnes, CAE, Director of Social Engagement at the American Institute of Architects to the SocialFish stage! 1) First things first – in what department in your organization does your role sit? Who do you report to? . As Director of Social Engagement, my role is part of the Strategic Communications and Marketing team. I report to the Managing Director of Public Relations and Outreach. 2) Describe your social/digital “ecosystem” – what social media sites do you (or the org as a whole) manage? Are they interlinked in specific ways? How do you decide what content to post where? Do they have different audiences? Like many nonprofits, we have social networking accounts on Twitter , Facebook , LinkedIn , YouTube, Pinterest , and, our newest account, Instagram , in addition to our own site, KnowledgeNet. Twitter and Facebook are our fastest-growing networks, Instagram is our most engaging network. The AIA is one of the leading architecture-related associations and, as such, we have various audiences: practicing architects, our members; architecture students and educators; affiliated federal, state, and local government officials/staff; media from trade and major news outlets; architecture fans—each wanting different information and/or interactions from the AIA. Engagement is a key part of our social media program. We view the social networking accounts as channels of two-way communications. We not only want to wow our audiences with valuable and relevant information (i.e., do social), but also be social with them. For instance, we know it may be challenging for our members to meet other design colleagues on Twitter so we host a monthly Twitter chat, AIA Chat, to help them connect. One member has likened the chats to her “virtual watercooler.”. In terms of content, we use Twitter for quick news nuggets and engagement; the LinkedIn company page for “newsy” content; Facebook for engaging, thought-provoking content (what will get people talking?); and Pinterest and Instagram for images of some of the best, most innovative architecture around. Although the content is different on each site, all these sites are interlinked in the sense that our brand represents architects and their works, regardless of the platform. The overarching goals are to be online with users and help elevate their awareness of what architects do and how they contribute to their local communities and society in general. 3) Can you describe the internal collaboration workflow with other areas of the association (e.g. are you part of a team that meets on a regular basis)? How do you manage content flow? How do you manage monitoring and responding across the organization? I’m a one-woman shop (with the occasional intern) so collaboration is key. In our current model, the Communications team hosts a weekly meeting with all internal stakeholders. Stakeholders have an open invitation to the meeting, and this weekly meeting is where I share what’s going on in the social realm and gather info on what’s going on, when, and where elsewhere. Occasionally the Marketing team will host informational briefings on initiatives/campaigns as well. It is through the weekly meetings, individual meetings with stakeholders, and briefings that I’m able to craft a social calendar that is integrated with our editorial calendar. We also have a social media cross-team comprised of staff who manage individual team accounts for the AIA. We meet on a quarterly basis to discuss our metrics and examine what’s working and what’s not. This model can be time consuming and consists of a lot of meetings, though. I’m hoping in 2015 we can transform our model into something that is not only a more collaborative but more electronic solution that is enterprise-wide—while not completely eliminating the need for face-to-face interactions. So if any of your readers are using models with enterprise tools for collaboration, I’d love to hear from them. . 4) Describe a typical day for you – and any favorite tools you use regularly for anything related to social media. There is no “typical” day. That’s what keeps my job interesting. I begin practically each day with a list of 3-5 tasks I want to accomplish in a day. When I finish my list, I open Hootsuite to scan for any mentions of our brand, overnight engagement, and pertinent content that we might share. I also review the scan can our Media Relations team creates daily, again, looking for content to share. From the reviews and media scan, I’ll craft and schedule posts for the day. And then a large part of my day is consumed in meetings with the internal stakeholders. If I’m not in a meeting, then I’m reviewing social metrics; if I’m not reviewing social metrics, I’m scanning and posting content; if I’m not scanning and posting content, I’m monitoring posts; and if I’m not monitoring posts, I’m working on/tweaking our strategy. Another part of my day sometimes involves coaching: coaching a chapter’s communications staff on their social media strategy or coaching staff on their social networking efforts. . My two favorite tools are my Hootsuite dashboard and Simply Measured. I have my Hootsuite dashboard set up with streams for our Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn accounts, as well as select keywords and online influencers. I keep it open all day, checking throughout the day on what’s being posted. I love how easily Simply Measured helps me to monitor our engagement activities across all of our networks and create monthly engagement reports. 5) Is community management (group moderation) part of your responsibilities? Please describe those activities. Our LinkedIn group is set up for peer-to-peer interaction among AIA members only. I monitor, not moderate, the conversations to make sure all comments are respectful. We’ve established community guidelines that we ask all of our followers to abide by and the guidelines are posted on our website. Occasionally I’ve had to link to the guidelines when someone appears to be disrespectful. It hasn’t happened often, though. 6) Have you done any social media campaigns? Can you share any success stories (or lessons learned)? One of our larger campaigns is National Architecture Week , which takes place the second week of April annually. This is our week to shine an even brighter spotlight on all the good works that architects create and to engage with the public around their appreciation of architecture. It’s a virtual event and typically consists of a designated landing page on the Institute website that features award-winning architects and their design projects along with information about the architecture profession, as well as engaging content on Facebook and Twitter, and branded imagery of design projects on Instagram. To engage, we’ve hosted photo contests on Instagram and encouraged followers to share their architectural photos on Twitter and Facebook. We had nearly 3,500 entries to the photo contests. We supplemented our effort with Promoted Tweets and Facebook ads, generating nearly 6 million impressions during this three-day campaign. We had some successful “firsts” during this year’s campaign. It was the first time we featured a social hub on our NAW webpage. The hub pulled in more than 2,000 tweets, Facebook posts, videos, and Instagram posts—all tagged with the NAW hashtag #archweek14—into one hub on our website, thereby enabling users to interact with the social content without leaving the website. We also partnered with an affiliate organization and they helped to promote our event. And, probably the biggest “first,” the National Architecture Week logo and URL appeared on the jumbotron in New York City’s Times Square. 7) What’s the hardest part of your job? Lack of resources. No surprise there? There are three parts to my job: content, analytics, and strategy. There’s never enough time in a day to get all three parts done. Taking a “high view” and strategizing can prove challenging when you’re also down in the “weeds” posting content and engaging. Reviewing analytics and reporting can be a full-time job as well. 8) Give us a glimpse into the future. If budget and resources were no object, what would you love to see in terms of your association’s social media presence in 3 years? I would love to see our association devote substantial resources to support a social media team, managing not only the social networking accounts but also a host of engaging, interactive features on the website, as well as being able to afford a tool such as the enterprise version of Hootsuite for collaboration. Each year finds more and more of our members are engaging with us online, which means we constantly have to keep our ideas fresh on how we engage with them—free tools will only get you so far! We tested the waters this year collaborating with an affiliate organization and did indeed discover that there is strength in numbers. It’s easy for staff to think competitively in terms of another organization. I would love to see us collaborate with more organizations, supporting each other’s initiatives. And I think our members would appreciate it if they saw the collaboration. I would also love to see a coordinated social effort with the association’s chapters. AIA chapters currently are autonomous to AIA National, but the public sees them as an integral part of AIA National. It would be nice to operate in that sweet spot where chapters could keep their autonomy but still collaborate with National in the social realm. Thanks, Maddie, for allowing me to provide a glimpse into social at the AIA! If your readers have questions, they can tweet me at @SybilWB or email me at email@example.com. Thank you, Sybil for the interview! More like this. 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