Winner of the 2016 Chapter Achievement Award for Communications
The Mesa East Valley’s chapter theme of community outreach has been a successful approach to preventing itself from being labeled the best kept secret in the community. Regular updates and good content on the chapter website, monthly newsletters and social media has kept this chapter on the top of the minds of local accounting and financial professionals looking to connect, advance and lead.
The Mesa East Valley Chapter website and social media posts rank high in keyword searches. The chapter’s current Weebly website is almost two years old and continues to be a resource for members, students and the local professional community. The Home page welcomes visitors and provides an overview of the website and information available. The About Us section gives a history of the chapter, highlights the current board and provides information on the national organization. Other sections of the website include information and details regarding membership, CPE, seminars, scholarships and a calendar page to promote upcoming events. The Connections section includes social events, community service and financial literacy information. With a recent chapter theme of community outreach, these pages are a great resource to share chapter activities and impact on the community. Throughout the website, pictures of members and events share the chapter’s rich history and show that accountants are fun! Priced at $75 a year, web hosting and domain name expenses are very reasonable and a worthwhile investment for the chapter.
The second piece to this chapter’s successful community outreach is the monthly “In Touch” Mesa East Valley Chapter Newsletter which highlights different chapter members, features upcoming meeting and events, and shares national and industry news through the new Constant Contact account. The newsletter is emailed to the friends contact list and posted to the website so others can stay In Touch with the Mesa East Valley Chapter.
Last but not least, the Mesa East Valley Chapter has effectively used many forms of social media to create community awareness. Social media accounts are easy to get to from the chapter website and provide an opportunity for the chapter and members to engage with each other and professional communities.
The Facebook page, posts meeting announcements, community service projects and events, such as the board installation. The event feature is used regularly to promote events and invite friends to attend. The chapter’s Facebook page follows the AFWA national page, other chapters, higher learning institutions, local businesses, national CPA firms and other business representing women, diversity, leadership and accounting resources. Posts are used to engage and encourage scholarship applications, community service project support and meeting attendance.
The chapter’s Twitter account has been active in sharing AFWA national, chapter and industry news and events. In addition to the chapter’s content, information is shared from other accounts that might be of interest to the members and industry. This is an effective approach to engage with local colleges for student events and scholarship applications.
The chapter’s LinkedIn group is open to members and nonmembers to share event and membership information, facilitate discussions, share job opportunities and the latest industry information. This page provides another professional online presence and the opportunity to promote events, specifically the annual seminar, to targeted local professionals.
The Mesa East Valley chapter has utilized the area’s local resources through its participation in Networking Phoenix. This free service provides the chapter with a presence where local professionals look for networking events and professional development opportunities.
We took a minute to catch up with Mesa East Valley’s Laura Mangan for a few follow up questions.
Obviously, your Chapter operates a lot of channels for communications. Which channels would you say are most important for your Chapter?
LinkedIn is a great resource for our chapter. We can connect with members, potential members and speakers in a professional environment. As our members post and like AFWA content, their connections get introduced to our association and upcoming events. While researching speakers on exciting technical topics, our members expand their own professional networks and improve their profiles with their association involvement. We use our chapter group and company page to promote events and share industry information beyond our own connections.
Facebook reflects the fun side of our association. It gives us an opportunity to share photos of fun events and members connecting. The event feature lets us share our upcoming events so other people can find out what we are doing. When LinkedIn discontinued its event feature years ago, this became a primary method of posting event information for people to search. Members can interact with our chapter with their own photos, posts and comments. This social media lets us combine the personal and professional sides of AFWA.
Even with social media, our chapter website is the primary way to share a lot of information with everyone. It is an important source of current events and a look at our chapter’s history. Our social media posts and profiles direct users to our website for meeting registrations and membership information. They all work together to connect with our members and our community.
How many Chapter Leaders have access to your website and social channels? Is there a committee to help publish all your content?
We don’t have a separate committee for communications. We had a website training session with several chapter leaders in 2015. I had created website instructions and we walked through the key areas for regular updates. Before this training, I was the only member who was familiar with our new website. The timing was helpful as I was out unexpectedly the following month and other members were able to step up and get our website updated with the new month’s meeting information. This year a new website director is responsible for most of the website updates. We have three or four members set up as administrators for both our Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. They can all monitor activity and post information on upcoming events, scholarships and industry content from the chapter, not just their own account. Other accounts like Constant Contact have general logins with several board members able to access but another member is primarily responsible for newsletters. It is really important to have multiple members able to access and update your website and social media accounts. The key documents with instructions and logins are saved to our board drop box account so critical information is available when needed.
What’s next for Mesa East Valley Communications?
There are lots of opportunities to reach out to members and the community that we haven’t used. I created Instagram and Pinterest accounts but haven’t stopped to explore the potential for our chapter. Our Google+ account has been used to create events, but we haven’t maximized the ability to connect and share content. These areas will see more activity as we involve more chapter members in our regular social media responsibilities.
With the increase in online communications, the personal touch becomes more important. I created AFWA Mesa East Valley Chapter note cards with our logo and information to introduce our chapter to potential members. With so much email, a card in the mail would have a bigger impact and be a nice introduction. As we use more email, we can lose personal connections. Our communication with members will include more cards, phone calls and one-on-one conversations. AFWA is made stronger when we connect.