Everyone’s talking about value these days — bringing your members value, instilling value, providing value — and obviously the way you go about doing that depends largely on the type of organization you have. But one thing that can’t be argued is the rate at which people are embracing social media. If this trend continues at the rate in which it has over the past few years, all organizations with a web presence will have to incorporate some sort of social media component to their brand. It’s an easy way to add value to your membership. (See, there’s that word again.)
But let’s talk a moment about the concept of value. Value is not in the eyes of the community organizer. Sure, the admin/organizer can share it (if you are in touch with exactly what your constituents want from you) but it originates with your members. Their perception is the reality, meaning it does not matter what you think adds value to their lives, it’s what they think does. For instance, you may have a wildly successful event that you perceive as valuable to your members. But will it keep them from dropping their membership if they find they need to cut back? If yes, it has true intrinsic (although difficult to measure) value. If not, it’s just what people refer to as icing. The cake is still good without it.
You see this all the time in TV shows when the main character leaves. Sometimes the show can move along with a replacement as if nothing happened but more often (if the character/actor brought any real value) the audience fizzles, the writers become desperate and the show flounders with ridiculous plot lines and fades into obscurity. None of us want this to happen to our organization so it’s imperative to find that value-add. Whether you do it through polls, personal conversations or asking the Magic 8 Ball discovering what it is that will keep your members connected to you is important.
Social media and online communities may not be the answer for all organizations but it certainly seems to be what folks are interested in right now. This interest even defies age barriers, as all age groups seem to be embracing some form of social media adoption. Whether you’re ready to commit to it now or want to “wait and see,” you do need to be searching for the elusive concept of what your members deem valuable. After all, it starts with value, then becomes daily routine, next it’s a habit and eventually becomes so much a part of their lives that it’s not that they can’t imagine not having you there, it’s that the question would never cross their minds. Your organization becomes such an integral part of their lives, they simply see you as an extension of their worlds. And that’s the goal.