I am presenting as a Keynote speaker at a Florida State Chamber event this coming Friday.
My goal is simple. To help Chamber organizations understand the value of integrating social media and online marketing into their business. I'm not talking adding an intern or a gal or guy that can tweet. I'm also not talking about a social media plan thrown together by somebody who knows nothing about your business or the greater landscape of social media.
Random Acts of Social Media (RAMs) are what most Chambers are doing. Having a Twitter or Facebook profile alone is not getting them where they need to be. Many are giving up before they have joined the party. It's time they have the guts to ask themselves the hard questions. Most importantly they need to have the dialog with their members, past members and target members.
Chamber Organization should ask the below questions in regard to their efforts in online marketing and social media:
Is social media…
1. Providing value to their membership?
2. Bringing benefit to the Chamber business via brand awareness, membership, membership loyalty, sales efficiencies, etc.?
3. Helping the Chamber business grow their membership?
4. Justifying the investment?
Obviously my goal is to bring the highest possible value to help the Chamber organizations understand more than the tools, more than the science of tweeting but the art and power of nurturing social relationships to bring mutual benefit to members, strategic partners and the Chamber organizations.
I am conducting some quick primary research on member beliefs & feedback of what their local Chamber of Commerce is, could & should be doing to support them both offline and online. In a few simple questions asked and answered on Facebook and Twitter I am already seeing quite a disconnect between what the member and non-member businesses want and need compared to the thinking and approach the Chambers are taking.
The first tweet I got from a Chamber member on Twitter summarized how HootSuite was working for them. The first answer I got from a member business was the recommendation that the Chamber should be supporting them on the member's local social network sites. Wow, what an eye opener of the delta in thinking. Members want value online from their local Chamber. They want their Chamber to help them grow their business both online and offline. Where as many Chamber organizations have a goal to simply tweet their events, get more people at their events etc.
We all know budgets are tight and the Chambers were and still are being hit hard. Even the ones who do “get it” lack the funds to execute effectively without an overhaul to their current business and working models.
The truth is that I think that's exactly what many of them are going to need to do to avoid being literally left behind. Local networking meetings are being replaced by Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn groups, MasterMinds filled with people you meet online, sales funnels, automated nurturing programs leveraging technologies such as Infusionsoft, Campaign Monitor & Constant Contact. All of these things are being integrated into marketing and business plans of local businesses and bringing value to their bottom line. The issue is the majority of Chamber organizations aren't doing these things themselves. If they don't understand the technologies and art of using such how can they connect with their members and potential target future members online?
For the Chamber of Commerce organization it's no longer “how am I going to afford to get online?” Instead their question should be “what am I NOT going to do so that I can afford to integrate social media into my business and not be left behind?”
For now I don't want to give you too much of my own opinion, although it might already be too late. More will come after the research and the presentation this week.
However, I do have a favor to ask of you. Can you please help by providing your candid thoughts on this topic?
Business Leaders: I am very interested in your experience with your local Chamber of Commerce. I want to know what is working, what is not. What do you think they can be doing better. How can the Chamber connect with you online and offline? How can they help you bridge the gap between the offline and online world to help you grow your business?
Chamber of Commerce leader, employee, CEO or board member: I also welcome your input. What is working for you? What is not? What needs do you believe your membership has in regard to social media and online marketing? Do you believe you need to make the change to be able to best support them?
Please complete one of the surveys below. It will take you only 60 seconds at most. I promise to publish all results of the research as well as outcome of the session this week!
Thanks in advance for your input, opinions and time taken to help pay it forward!
I also host a weekly Twitter Chat, #GetRealChat with co-host @SteveOlenski. We meet every Tuesday at 9 pm et. We discuss the power of social relationships and how to leverage social media to build authentic, real relationships both online and offline. We tear down the curtains and “Get Real” about the myths, truths & best practices of social media and business. If you're new to Tweet Chats, check out this video tutorial for more information–> #GetRealChat Video Tutorial
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I can only speak for the Omaha Chamber, but they are one of the best chambers in the country. They provide their members a number of different networking opportunities, classroom instruction and special events. They have integrated social media into their service mix for their clients and they are active on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. The key advantage is that they partner with their members when it comes to social media. It has to be a cooperative effort. The Omaha Chamber has a large number of volunteers that help with membership drives, social media training and setting business initiatives when it comes to public policy. I am active on three committees with our Chamber and everyone I talk to is very pleased with the work of the Omaha Chamber.
The Omaha Chamber of Commerce in Omaha, Nebraska is one of the best chambers in the country and understands the importance of Social Media and how it can benefit its members. You should check out their site and you would see this clearly. The Omaha Chamber of Commerce provides opportunities to its members through instruction, networking and continual communication. There are a number of ways for businesses to be involved with the Omaha Chamber activities and the Omaha Chamber reaches out to its own members to help instill great examples of management and marketing principles occurring in the Omaha Community. You should look to the Omaha Chamber as an example of the integration you talk about in your post. Great Article!
Thanks Brent. I’ll check them out. I had to chuckle as your post reads like your obvious objective for leaving a comment is SEO. You mention “Omaha Chamber of Commerce” 5-6 times in one paragraph ;) Could be that’s just how it came out. Thought I would let you know.
Hi Pam! I’d be interested in hearing about how your presentation went. I recently presented at a Chamber conference in the Midwest (four state area) on this very topic. Found a very high interest level. Check out the Springfield (Mo.) Area Chamber of Commerce’s social media program sometime. Our members are very active! (http://www.springfieldchamber.com/newmedia/ )