This post is part of a series, based on the ebook 'Top 21 marketing channels for membership sites', written by The Subscription Coach Amanda Northcutt.
The Big 6 social channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, LinkedIn. Pick 1 or 2 channels where your target audience lives and where you enjoy interacting. Participate on those channels 5 days a week. 80% of what you say should be helpful, useful, and/or fun for your audience, with only 20% being promotional. So, 1 out of 5 social media actions should be "salesy," that's it. No more, no less.
Your social strategy should tie in seamlessly with your content marketing strategy. For example, if you have a monthly topic or theme within your membership, your content marketing (remember you need a free vs. paid content strategy to make this work) should also align with that monthly theme. And not surprisingly, your social media strategy should promote and relate to the free content you're releasing that month. Don't reinvent the wheel. Streamline your content marketing and social strategies by piggybacking on what you're doing behind the paywall with your paying members.
Facebook is a slam dunk for paid advertising for most membership sites as there are 2.3 billion users and infinite customizations are allowed, but it's not necessarily the best place for your free social efforts unless you have an established Facebook Group.
I won't take a deep dive into the pros and cons of each medium, as that's beyond the scope of this guide. However, we recommend Instagram, Pinterest, and/or YouTube if your membership centers around highly visual instruction, and both Twitter and LinkedIn if your membership is B2B (business to business). Using a social media scheduler, like Buffer or Edgar, will help you batch your social shares and alleviate the burden of having to show up on that social platform every single day. That being said, you should show up often and engage with those who are listening, but it's likely unreasonable to add daily social engagement to everything else on your plate as a membership site owner.
Your once-weekly promotional, more salesy, interaction on social media should absolutely include a call to action (CTA) that matches the step your audience on each platform might be ready to take towards joining your membership. That can include entering a fun contest, taking a quiz, registering for a webinar, visiting your website or a specific landing page, or downloading your lead magnet.
When you require an email address for a piece of content, that piece of content serves as what's called a lead magnet. A lead magnet is something of high relevance and value you provide to your prospect in exchange for their email address. The person who puts in their email address should immediately receive the promised content via email and be added to your email list. But don't just let them be on your email address to receive the occasional newsletter email or similar. Instead, have a strategy in place for converting that new lead into a paying member of your site! You achieve this by preloading a lead nurturing email sequence that automatically kicks off when someone downloads your lead magnet. And yes, this is time-consuming work, but this is the best set-and-forget sales tool at your disposal. Do it once, and review your nurture email sequence every six months.
The overarching goal with your social CTAs is to get a prospect's email address so they start receiving your automated nurture email sequence. As with all marketing, social engagement should be intentional, contextually appropriate, and measurable. If you aren't armed with proper information on click-throughs, conversions, likes, shares, retweets, lead captures, etc., you might be wasting your time. Are you?
To learn more about Facebook Live, grab Hubspot’s Ultimate Guide here.
Organic influencer marketing
Partnering with those who have the attention of a critical mass of your target audience is the fastest path to growth for a membership site. You can try to orchestrate this organically, or go straight to trying to pay for it.
For the purposes of membership sites, the term "influencer" is someone who has amassed a large, loyal, and engaged following online because they are the expert in their field, or just super funny/interesting/etc. and people like to be around them. Engagement is the key metric to look for when seeking out influencers in your field. Some people have tens of thousands or more followers, but that means nothing if the majority of them ignore and are disengaged from the influencer.
We've all seen cases of paid influencer marketing when celebrities are hired to be the spokesperson for a certain brand. Bootstrappers and entrepreneurs have taken that concept and applied it to niche markets.
Odds are, there are influencers in your industry. Who has written a book about your membership topic? Who hosts conferences for your target audience? What are the top 3 blogs, podcasts, YouTube channels your audience pays attention to? Those are your influencers. You need to identify, find, and start to be helpful to them. Here's how to put your best foot forward so that, over time, you can forge genuine relationships with influencers to work toward mutually beneficial, collaborative projects.
Providing value to your industry's influencers by being kind and helpful is the right way to get on their radars. Your overarching goal with this marketing channel is to first establish genuine relationships (to make a friend, be a friend) with said influencers – THEN in due time, work towards creating mutually beneficial ways to reach each other's audiences. Treat these relationships with kid gloves. Be careful, thoughtful, and mindful that these influencers often hold the power to influence the purchase decisions of their audience. You want that working in your favor, not against you.
You start being a helpful person by consistently doing things like: engaging with them on social media (retweets, likes, comments, etc.), reviewing their book(s) on Amazon, leaving a review for their podcast on iTunes, consistently leaving valuable comments on their blog posts, sharing their content with your audience and tagging them on various social channels with a quick thank you, and so on. Get these kinds of activities on your calendar as a recurring event so your organic influencer strategy stays on track.
If you send an email or make an initial outreach on social media to introduce yourself, it's smart to have a quote from the influencer from a blog post, podcast interview, or recent speaking gig with some insightful comment from you on how their advice/expertise helped you and/or ask a follow up question. This shows you've done your homework and aren't just comin' in hot out of the blue with an agenda to execute.
Then say you've been a long-time fan of their work (because you've been following and being helpful to them for some time now, right?), you've shared their content with your audience multiple times, and you're in the same industry and thought it might be useful to connect. Next, offer to introduce them to anyone in your network that might benefit them (great if you have some specific people in mind you're certain they're not already buddies with). It's key that you don't ask for anything in this initial outreach. If they respond favorably, move forward slowly and steadily and keep providing value to this person. Work at their pace, but don't be afraid to ask for collaborations as it makes sense.
If your working relationship progresses, it should be natural to share each other's content when relevant, be on each other's podcasts, cross promote services, bundle services for special offers, and pursue other creative collaborations for audience sharing.
If your organic influencer efforts come up short, or you are low on time, don't fret, you can try for paid influencer marketing instead!
Paid influencer marketing
Just as with organic influencer marketing, you'll first need to identify the influencers in your industry, but you can short circuit the process by approaching them about paid promotional opportunities.
Recognized influencers might have a media kit of sorts on their website if they've done paid influencer marketing for others in the past. If you're not certain they've been paid for collaborations or access to their audience in the past, you might need to first see if they would even consider it. Regardless, you're better off if you've followed the relationship-building steps outlined in the previous section on organic influencer marketing so you're on their radar before you make that inquiry.
Examples of paid influencers opportunities could include: a sponsored email to their list, a sponsored blog post, a guest spot on their podcast, paying them to be a guest on a webinar, paying to interview them, paying them to speak at your conference or event, or anything else that makes sense in your space.
Borrowing someone else's audience is the fastest and often least expensive path to growth. Don't overlook the power influencer marketing can have on your marketing and acquisition strategy.
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