XYZ University has defined member engagement as the emotional commitment the member has to the association and its mission.
As such, many association executives pose the question: “How do I engage my members in a meaningful way?” The following are five ways (that are relatively inexpensive and not overly time-consuming) to engage your association’s members:
Every association should have a blog that addresses key issues, provides opinions and offers expert advice for their industry. Your communications department likely works diligently to put together a monthly newsletter (or something similar) that is distributed to your membership. But only those on the distribution list have the opportunity to read it, and the majority of them are not likely reading every installment. A blog gives you the opportunity to re-purpose content you are already using and distribute it exponentially. And what’s more, if your members enjoy what they read, they’ll distribute the content online as well.
Need contributors? Look to your current association members and other stakeholders. They are experts too. Need to give them extra incentive? Get a few members to commit to submitting a monthly piece, and as a thank you, offset some of their membership fees, give them discounted or free advertising in your publications or recognition at an upcoming event.
Start a Member of the Month (or week) program. Advise your community about what they have done to earn the spot (through their volunteerism or research for the industry, for example). Have an area on your website home page that showcases the member and link it back to your blog for a full article. Get your members involved once the program is up and running by starting an nomination process.
In many cases, the professional development programming is solely focused around a big conference. Keeping programming for your conference is OK, but many of your members may not even be able to attend for many reasons–timing, location, price. Having regular webinars to help increase the chances of your members gaining their required credits, or just news regarding your industry, is a great way to keep them informed. It also establishes credibility and provides extra value for why members should care to be involved throughout the year; not just at conference time.
It can also be a new potential source of revenue for the organization. Making webinars available on demand for purchase by your community can also drive revenue to your organization’s bottom line.
After inviting your community to join you online in either a public social media platform or private online community, start posting questions to get people talking. This is a great way to get your network talking to each other, sharing ideas, opinions and articles of relevance. This can also give you the inside scoop on topics that interest your audience so you can continue to engage with them online.
Everyone likes watching videos, and you could incorporate this into your engagement strategy for many aspects within your organization. Your conference delegates, exhibitors and sponsors could be on video talking about your events and why they are a wonderful way to network and educate. Your association’s executive director could have a monthly vlog that is only available to members (think the “members-only” section of your website) or, on a private online community.
Engaging your members is the ultimate goal for associations today; get the creative juices flowing within your organization to take the necessary steps to engage them NOW and in the future.
Looking for a game changer at your next event or a strategy unique to your organization?