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Online Communities And Member Retention

The only way way your association is going to be able to retain members is by making them feel connected to you and by providing them value. Why else would they pay membership dues? If they can have the same experience elsewhere, there’s nothing to keep them from going elsewhere.

The only way way your association is going to be able to retain members is by making them feel connected to you and by providing them value. Why else would they pay membership dues? If they can have the same experience elsewhere, there’s nothing to keep them from going elsewhere.

According to the 2013 Membership Benchmarking Report, one of the top reasons people join associations is for networking opportunities. Your association can improve retention by helping members network better.

One of your biggest assets your association has is its members. They are valuable to you and to each other through the connections they make by belonging to the same association. Helping your members get to know and engage with each other will help to keep them all engaged with your association. One way to do that is by creating online communities for your membership.

Your members are tech savvy, especially Gen Y and Gen Z. They want to network when it’s most convenient for them. Here’s what else you need to know about creating online communities:

ONLINE COMMUNITIES CAN SAVE YOUR MEMBERS MONEY

Online communities are a great way to crowdsource information, get answers to questions you might otherwise need to pay a consultant for. No one wants to give their expertise away for free, but an association’s online community is a trusted network of like-minded professionals who all have something to gain from collaborating. Making real-time anytime collaboration possible is not only convenient and nice, it’s a real cost savings for your members. That can go a long way in retaining members.

But that doesn’t happen overnight.

PLANNING YOUR ONLINE COMMUNITY

There are four things you need to consider before starting your online community:

  1. Will you build it or buy it? Building your own allows you to customize heavily, but buying ready to use software will get you going faster.
  2. How will you customize? Online communities shift and grow. As this happens, you may need to update your community. Even when buying software, consider future customized updates you may need to make.
  3. What’s the long-term goal? If you want your community to grow, it’s important to have a technology platform that allows for increased scale.
  4. How will you maintain the community? It’s important that you can keep track of what’s happening in your community easily and quickly. Choose technology that can offer ease of use for administrators.

IF YOU BUILD IT, WILL THEY COME?

Once you’ve invested your time and association dollars into building an online community, it would be a shame if no one used it. During your planning process you must consider how you will market your new community to members and entice them to join. You need to inspire them to interact and share valuable content. A thriving online community starts with an empty space, you need a plan for how you will fill that space. A dedicated community manager will be key in planting the seeds for a strong community.

Your members are valuable to you, and they can be valuable to each other. Let them see that value, and yours, by facilitating easy ways for them to get to know each other. The more they value each other, the more they value your association bringing them together.

Ready to jump in but not sure where to start? The Next Generation Association iPortal can help you capitalize on technology and build member value. Check it out!

Take the first step towards your future.

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