North Texas Chapter played host for the 63rd Annual Seminar and Exhibits in Dallas in September 2017, and the host chapter did not disappoint. Its representative Alex Smith won the ASIS Foundation's bull riding contest, and its web master J.D. Mauricio won attention to the chapter's social media accounts for his innovative and distinctive post format.
Mauricio's background is in security, not social media. He credits his success to trial-and-error. Mauricio had only been operating the North Texas Chapter's social media accounts for five months before Seminar arrived, but he paid attention to best practices that he found online to help bring his A-game for his Seminar coverage.
What social accounts does the NTX Chapter utilize and what are strengths and weaknesses of each?
The North Texas Chapter has
Facebook account, a Twitter account, an Instagram account, a Flickr account, aLinkedIn group, and a LinkedIn organization page. Most social media experts tell you not to get on every platform. Instead, you should find the medium to reach your targeted audience. We're still trying to find the best ways to engage with our members, our communities, other security professionals, and organizations and businesses.
I would guess that most ASIS members have a LinkedIn, and it appears that professionals are increasing the social aspect of that platform, but I think the most activity and engagement in the security industry occurs on Twitter.
Is it just you managing these accounts or do you share the load? If so, how? And how much time does this usually take?
I'm the only one managing our accounts right now. I assumed the chapter's social media and website roles in April this year. My goal is to get at least one addition person managing some of our social media accounts. There are apps out there like Buffer and Hootsuite that allow you to cross-post to your accounts on different platforms-- so if all you have time for is one post, you can post it on multiple accounts. However, in order to be the most effective, you should tailor your messages to each platform.
You make great use of custom frames for graphics. What tips and tricks can you share for creating social media graphics (programs, apps, other guidelines, etc.)? How did you customize graphics onsite at Seminar?
I wasn't personally active on social media prior to 2017, so I've had to learn a lot about social media best practices. I'm always looking for the best apps or techniques to make my job easier and to make our posts more valuable. I knew for Seminar I wanted our posts to be
set apart without taking too long to be ready. I created a custom frame in Adobe Illustrator that I could overlay on top of the pictures I took. If you don't have expensive graphic design software, there are free alternatives out there like Gimp that will do similar tasks.
I have a number of image and video editing apps on my phone. My favorites are Snapseed, Line camera, Pic Stitch, and PicsArt. Snapseed lets me do some of the more advanced graphic editing, and then I finish with PicsArt since it is able to keep the transparency of the frame overlay. When I was at a keynote speech or session, I would find an interesting quote or moment and then share it on social with a few quick edits and the overlay.
How do you stay looped in to chapter news to share on social (i.e. winning the bull riding challenge or a chapter fundraising event)? Where do you get your post ideas from?
Our members will send me pictures and information from the events that they're attending, and then I'll share over social media. When creating posts, I ask myself what someone who was unable to attend that event would find interesting, and what would convince them to not miss out next time? It's a work in progress, but I want the chapter's social media presence to be a resource for information, education, and networking for our members and fans.
For chapters interested in getting started on social, what would you recommend?
The most important step is to get started. Chapters don't have to be on every platform and they don't have to have a master plan before they get started. Eventually, your Chapter will develop a voice in how it engages with other users. Our chapter's social media efforts are less than 6 months old, so we are still learning and evolving what we do on our accounts.
Next, you will want to decide what information to share. There are three general levels of engagement that most chapters build upon. The first and easiest level is to share meeting and event information, posting dates and registration information. The next level of engagement is to share content from other sources. This involves linking to posts or articles from other accounts and followers. The third level would be to create your own content. Chapters on this level share articles and blog posts from their own website or post content from their past meetings and events.
Don't be afraid to make adjustments. If you look at our Chapter's first posts on Instagram, you can see progress in how I posted information as I learned what works. Find your natural audience – they could be your public law enforcement, first responders, emergency management teams, and other security-related organizations in the area. There are many people and businesses who have a vested interest in the success of security in your communities.
Be a gracious poster. Try to tag or link to groups or persons with whom you are quoting or engaging. This will make it easier for other people to also engage in your conversation.
Finally, if your chapter is looking for a social media manager for your accounts, find someone who cares about your chapter and wants to be on social media. Not everyone enjoys posting on social media, so find someone who will put in the time and effort. That may mean multiple people managing different accounts.
What have been your biggest challenges with social media?
I think the biggest challenge so far has been getting chapter members involved in the social conversation. Not everyone has a social media account, and if they do, they may not be active on it. I've noticed more of our young professionals engaging on social media, and I think that is the direction to stay relevant and provide useful information.
The more members we have who get involved on social media, the greater breadth of knowledge we will have to engage and share with our communities. Prior to joining ASIS International, I would regularly check surrounding chapters' websites and social media accounts for news and updates. I'm still checking regularly the websites and social media accounts of other ASIS chapters to see how they do things and how we can improve our own communication.
Any other social advice for our chapters and councils?
Our chapters and councils depend upon volunteers. Whether your social media is managed by one person or a small team, make sure that the rest of the chapter or council does what they can to support them. Have fun. Engage with your community. Add value to the conversation.