Member engagement is the lifeblood of an association. Active, engaged, passionate members renew their memberships and help to bring even more new members into the fold. But this isn’t simple to achieve. It’s too easy to get wrapped up in the daily operations of your work, forgetting that you’re also supposed to be a cheerleader and champion for the issues that members find so important.
The right technology can help you keep track of the activities you initiate and to assess the critical metrics that will let you know when your member engagement practices are gaining traction, and even increasing membership.
1. Make new members feel welcome. Think back to a time when you were brand new to something—perhaps a new school, job or even your own association. You weren’t sure what to expect, how to act, what the others were like or how they expected you to act.
Welcome emails are an excellent way to start off. But be sure to fill your website with guides, instructional materials and other helpful information for understanding the association and members’ part in it. Use your association software to track these new member campaigns so you can determine which are most effective, then recreate what works.
2. Acclimate new members. Keeping fresh, meaningful, timely information on your website for members during all stages of their membership is an excellent way to bolster engagement. You might also consider adding some functionality to your website in the form of tools and interactive content.
Perhaps your organization is a professional association. You might offer a tool on your website that allows them to calculate how much an advanced degree helps them measure lifetime earnings. A trade association may provide a series of instructional videos or how-to guides. Just keep delivering relevant content so your members get value from their membership, and you will certainly see member engagement increase.
3. Build an active community. For members, directly engaging with association leaders is beneficial. But what really bolsters a community of members is getting them to communicate with one another.
One of the most attractive aspects of joining an association is the sense of belonging—the feeling that you are a part of something bigger and more powerful than yourself. Help your members achieve this bond through an active local or online community.
For local groups, this is generally done via regular meetings. But in national or international associations with members strewn around the world, this type of face time isn’t usually possible—except perhaps for an annual convention. That means building an active online community is crucial.
Community forums are powerful when managed correctly. Keep content fresh and encourage member engagement and participation. Also, make it easy for members to share the content via social media, email, etc. (if the information isn’t confidential).
4. Stay focused on your association’s mission and goals. It’s easier than you think to let the group become more important than the association’s mission. This occurrence is called “group think,” and it’s a sociological phenomenon in which members are more interested in the cohesiveness of their group than they are in realizing the mission the group was created to fulfill. Always keep your association’s mission, purposes and goals first and foremost.