Facebook is the undisputed king of social media (for now,) and this means that if you plan to target any potential new members with marketing materials through social networking, you're going to have to rely on Facebook for at least part of the job. Thankfully, Facebook makes it relatively easy to seek out targeted users based on a variety of demographic data, including age, gender, and location. Recently, however, Facebook introduced the ability to target ads to users based on the user's interests, a valuable tool now at the disposal of professional associations interested in seeking out potential new members who are already interested in what the association is about.
How This Increases Engagement
When you post on Facebook, the only people who are going to see your content are people who have liked your page, or potentially, people who are friends of people who have liked your page. While this is great, it's akin to preaching to the choir. Yes, you certainly want to continue engagement with current members, encouraging them to share your association's Facebook page, but if your goal is to drive new membership, simply posting content won't cut it. When you boost a post by paying to have it seen by specific demographics, you then have the ability to reach a much, much larger audience, and the only limitation is how much you have to budget for boosting content. Your boosted posts can then increase engagement, but bear in mind that this only happens if your content is engaging.
Creating Engaging Content
One drawback to creating online content is that not everyone understands what is engaging and what isn't. For example, your sales manager may think posting your association's logo and the words, "Click here to learn about us," is sufficient, but the bottom line is that it isn't. When creating content, either rely on your creative team or hire an outside agency for help. You're going to want your content to not just be attractive, but enticing. The goal is to get clicks and likes, and these likes translate into potential new members. Consider advertising contests, interesting industry news, tips and tricks, job search information, videos, and other content when thinking about advertising on Facebook.
Keep It Going
Once you're advertising campaign is in full-swing, don't stop! After you've gotten engagement and potential new members clicking your ads, visiting your association's page, and liking it, you need to continue to update the page with engaging content that is targeted toward potential new members who have liked the page. This can be done by offering video interviews with current members who espouse the benefits of being a member. You could also offer discounted memberships for a limited amount of time on Facebook. The bottom line is that engaging potential members through Facebook advertising is only part of the strategy; the second half is persistence in knowing your audience and knowing what they are looking for in a professional association.