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Guest Posts
Membership

Is Your Website Bringing Your Members Closer Or Pushing Them Away?

Your website is more than just the voice of your membership association. If you’re not using your site to bring your members closer, you’re probably pushing them away from your organization and from each other. One of the reasons people join member-based organizations to be a part of a community, so it’s your job to make sure your community meets their needs.

Your website is more than just the voice of your membership association. If you’re not using your site to bring your members closer, you’re probably pushing them away from your organization and from each other. One of the reasons people join member-based organizations to be a part of a community, so it’s your job to make sure your community meets their needs.

Your website could be failing your members if you:

  • Show them a bunch of text. Try using fewer words and more pictures to get your point across. Nobody wants to feel like they’re cramming for a test.
  • Don’t update your site. If everything looks the same every time a member stops by, what’s their motivation to come back?
  • Make it boring. Would you hang out at a party where nobody’s eating, drinking, talking or dancing? Me neither. And I wouldn’t go to a website where nothing was going on either. If you’re not giving people something to do, they’re not going to stay.
  • Don’t engage your current members. Membership organizations are always looking for new members with new talents, and your website is a wonderful recruiting tool, especially as it relates to Millennials. Just don’t forget the members you already have. Make sure your website offers something for everyone.

Here’s how to use your website to help you make things right for your current and future association members:

  • Publish valuable content. Think about what your members care about. What do they want to learn? What are their challenges? And then provide them with updated content whether it’s a blog post, picture, video or infographic.
  • Make your content shareable. As much as you want them to, your members aren’t checking your website every single day. But if you make your content shareable, your members can help spread your message to members that they’re connected to on social media—and can even help you attract new members who are their connections on social media sites.
  • Make it interactive. Give people something to do on your website. A few ways you can do that are with:
  • Member profiles.  Show profiles of your members so they can learn more about each other.
  • Forums or groups. Let your members talk to each other by providing a forum where they can discuss ideas and share experiences. Bringing members closer to each other will keep them closer to your organization.
  • Surveys. Let your members vote on the location of your next meeting or event. Ask their opinion on key issues and then share the results.
  • Real-time updates. If fundraising is key to your organization, show updates of money raised. Highlight stand-out volunteers. Basically, show them that their efforts are making a difference.

A lot of membership management software solutions offer customizable website designs and tools to help you manage content and provide an exciting experience for your members.

Here are a few of my favorite interactive member-based sites:

What are your favorite association or member-based websites?

Zs came of age in an era of disruption

In many ways, it’s symbolic that Generation Z is named after the last letter in the alphabet because their arrival marks the end of clearly defined roles, traditions, and experiences. After all, Gen Z is coming of age on the heels of what has been referred to as the most disruptive decade of the last century. America has become an increasingly changing and complex place.

For example:

  • ‍Zs were born into a “modern family era” in which highly involved dads help out at home, and the nuclear family model (two parents, married, with children) represent only 46% of American households.
  • ‍Zs are the first generation to be born into a world where everything physical, from people to places to pennies, has a digital equivalent.
  • From the time they were infants, Zs had access to mobile technology. As a result, their brains have been trained to absorb large amounts of information, and Zs are especially adept at shifting between skills and subject matter.
  • Zs tend to have crystal-clear memories of sitting up for the first time at six months old because they can easily and quickly reference the photos and videos their parents shared on social media or saved in the “cloud”. 

Members of this generation have undoubtedly been shaped by crisis and disruption. This generation will largely be responsible for confronting the aftermath of the Great Recession, high youth unemployment, the effects of climate change, terrorism, energy sustainability, and more. These dark events have undoubtedly made this generation more cautious and pragmatic, but they have also provided this generation with the inspiration to change the world – and their grit will likely allow them to do it.

Coming of age during disruption means that most Zs will be comfortable being the disruptors. While Millennials tend to be collaborative and innovative, this generation tends to be sincere, reflective, thick-skinned, and self-directed, and will likely approach work in much the same way.

Zs were raised to be competitive

In the era following World War II, Boomers (1946-1964) were born and eventually became the wealthiest, most prosperous generation in history. Raised to aspire for the American Dream, this very large generation moved into positions of power and influence, and served as the workforce majority for 34 years.

With the American Dream alive and well, Boomers had no reason to teach their children, mostly Millennials, about competition. Instead, they taught them to focus on academic achievement and to be team players because if everyone works hard, everyone can win.

Enter Generation X (1965-1981). In contrast Boomers, Xers came of age during a time when change and economic and political uncertainty began to take root. They have lived through four recessions, struggled with debt and economic decline most of their lives, and watched the best educated and accomplished generation of all time (Millennials) graduate during the Great Recession and become the most debt-ridden generation in history.

Gen Xers can be defined by their independence and anti-status quo approach to life, and they have taught their Gen Z children to be competitive, believing only the best can win. They have encouraged their children to be realists, finding something they are good at and aggressively pursuing it.

Xers have raised their Zs with an intense focus on competitiveness -- in academics, sports, and other activities. This approach to parenting has many implications, but one stands out in terms of business: Gen Z is likely to lead.

Millennials in the workplace created and aggressively advocated for collaborative work environments. In fact, their aversion to leadership has been so strong, some Millennials sought out companies that boasted boss-free or team-managed workplaces.

In contrast, Zs have been raised with an individualistic, realistic, and competitive nature. They have been taught the skills to successfully defy the norm. This means we’re going to see the pendulum shift away from collaborative workplaces towards a widespread demand for, and pursuit of, leadership development.

Zs are career-focused.

While Millennials have been criticized for their “delayed adulthood”, Gen Z is showing signs of “early adulthood”. Educators and parents often describe this generation as being more serious and contemplative about the world. Zs are thinking about their career paths and exposing themselves to career training at an earlier age than Millennials. It’s probable that some of this early onset of adulthood is caused by parents, who are pressuring their children to be competitive and successful and to avoid the debt that plagued both the Gen Xers and Millennials.

The numbers from our global research found 46% of Gen Z said they know what career to pursue and 51% have taken a class at school focused on their career interests. Forty percent joined an extracurricular program (team, club) based on their career interests.

Zs are seeking financial security. 

Zs have been shaped by the aftermath of the Great Recession. They watched Millennials become debt-ridden and are concerned about falling into the same trap. XYZ University’s survey results show 66% of Zs said financial stability is more important than doing work they enjoy, which is the exact opposite of Millennial survey results.  Also, 71% of survey-takers have a paying job.

Zs value leaders who are positive and trustworthy.

When presented a list of leadership traits, Zs ranked positive and trustworthy the highest. While Millennials and Gen Zs both value trust in a leader, Millennials usually cite collaboration and vision as most important. In other words, Millennials focus on the outcomes leaders inspire, whereas Zs are more likely to consider leaders’ attitudes and personalities. To Z, what leaders encourage others to do isn’t as valuable as how they make them feel.

 

Zs want to be challenged.

Both Millennials and Gen Zs place a very high value on feeling challenged and appreciated in the workplace. However, according to our survey results Millennials rank appreciation slightly higher than challenge, whereas Zs rank feeling challenged slightly higher than appreciation.

Time will tell how Zs go down in history, but we know this generation’s influence on history will be unlike any other.

 

Does your organization have what it takes to engage the next generation? Take this quiz to find out.

 

Sarah Sladek is CEO of XYZ University. Our generational intelligence can assist you with engaging and retaining young talent and members.

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