Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Stuff Happens - Social Media, Associations and Sudden Events

Twitter, Blogs and Helping Members When Something Goes Wrong 

There’s a scene in the iconic movie Forrest Gump where Tom Hanks/Forrest gets mud splashed on his face from a passing car and is given a shirt to wipe it away. When the bright yellow shirt is pulled away, it has a muddy smiley face gracing the middle. That’s when Hanks/Forrest mutters, “It happens,” in his Alabama drawl.

That moment is supposed to be the line that spawned a million upbeat bumper stickers pasted on cars and dorm room walls around the world. But it’s also very true; stuff happens and sometimes it’s not very good stuff. Floods happen, terrible winter storms happen, strikes happen and vandalism happens. That doesn’t mean your association, and its members, need to be unprepared.

Social media can help any association come to the assistance of its members during an event that threatens their industry. Here are just a couple examples.


Twitter is made for breaking news. Twitter users can instantly get news from colleagues, organizations, news services and other connections. They can search for specific topics, write an update in a less than a minute and include photos and videos. They can access the platform in their office or in the middle of a field. In this way, Twitter can be an association’s best friend when the unexpected hits.

Twitter offers organizations a way to relay vital information to its members. Updates on a natural disaster (evacuations, emergency services, etc.), surprise political decision or any other piece of news that affects your members can be quickly, easily and succinctly passed on to members.
Twitter is a great platform to use to not only inform members, but also guide them to important resources when they need them quickly. Tweets can be sent out with links to information on government assistance, your association’s insurance program, or articles that give strategies on coping with unexpected scenarios, such as a flood.

Twitter also acts as a gathering place, a space where an organization and its members can join together and support their colleagues. An encouraging tweet, a meaningful conversation about shared experiences or an offer of time or resources from a colleague can help a member through a tough time and many an obstacle. Twitter opens up several avenues to make this possible and the best one is through an organization’s account.

Twitter offers a forum for those affected by natural disasters to tell their stories in the days after an unanticipated event and long after a member has rebounded. Twitter is a great platform to see the way members triumph over hardship and the pride and perseverance they show in their jobs. There is no better way for an organization to inspire and empower its members than to share these stories of dedication and success.


Blogging does a lot of what Twitter does, but in a bigger, more in-depth way. While Twitter is there for you to pass on news and information immediately and in bite-sized pieces, a blog will help your association tell stories, convey detailed information and share analysis of an event.

It’s great when your association’s president, CEO or executive director can write a letter to members about an event, explaining the ins and outs, detailing the resources available and showing support for the people most affected by a sudden turn in fortunes. A blog is a handy platform with which to achieve this, as it encourages members to read, comment and share the content.

A blog can also be used as an outlet for storytelling. Your members have a story to tell after an unexpected event hits their operations. A blog offers those members a chance to outline their experiences in an interview, photo blog or guest post. This type of blog helps connect your members in a way few other platforms can; with shared experiences. They may even be a part of one member’s story that helps another member recover or cope with the changing landscape of an industry, whether it’s a physical landscape or a cultural one.

Author Bio: Marc Cousineau is the President and Founder of Incline Marketing. Marc is passionate about helping non-profit organizations and associations grow and serve members through online marketing and social media.

You can follow Marc on Twitter, @marccousineau2, and follow Incline Marketing @inclinemktg

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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