The earlier part of this year was all about responding to immediate changes in our world.
Here are five approaches to connecting with your members as times continue to evolve.
By Michelle Schweitz, Marketing Manager, Community Brands
The earlier part of this year was all about immediate response to the global pandemic: Moving to a work-from-home model. Pivoting in-person events to virtual events. Continuing to provide members with what they need in times of immediate change.
Now we’re entering a new phase of remote. Depending on the location, some offices are beginning to re-open. Some organizations are starting to plan hybrid (in-person/virtual combo) events. No one is sure exactly how to plan for tomorrow.
In this environment, how can you continue to engage your members?
Here are five approaches to connecting with your members, even as times remain uncertain:
1. Use surveys to understand their evolving needs.
When times are in flux, a great way to understand what your members need most is to ask them. Start by calling a small group of members to have conversations with them. Be sure to include new members, members who have been around for more than a year, and maybe even a few recently lapsed members. Reaching out personally gives them a chance to give you direct feedback and shows your organization is truly listening.
Then, build and send a survey to your other members. Keep it short so they’re more likely to complete it. Some questions to ask might include:
- What are your biggest professional challenges?
- How have your professional challenges changed this year?
- What tools and resources from our association do you find most valuable?
- What would make your membership more valuable in the challenging times we face today?
Make sure your members know why you’re reaching out to them. Let them know you’re trying to provide a better member experience by understanding their evolving needs. Reassure them that your organization appreciates their time and takes their feedback seriously.
TIP: YourMembership association management software (AMS) has survey functionality built in, making it easy to build and send targeted surveys and get feedback.
2. Give them a place for inspiration, resources, and networking.
Your online member community is a valuable resource for members in difficult times. An online member community has the power to inspire and enable members to connect with each other, share ideas, and gain access to the timely content they need. Offering an online community is also an ideal way to encourage members to help each other. It also gives your association a place to share industry information and stay connected with members.
A few ways to encourage active involvement during the ongoing crisis:
- Create discussion groups based on key challenges that were uncovered in your member survey. This allows members to problem-solve with each other, which encourages them to participate more.
- Post the latest reports on best practices for your industry. Giving your members this type of access to valuable content makes your online community the go-to place for them to stay plugged in to their industry as thing evolve.
- Use your online community’s quick announcement area to draw attention to important information, such as breaking news and new educational opportunities. This is an effective way to keep members coming back for the latest on what information and help are available to them.
YourMembership AMS includes online community technology. It’s built in to help you increase social and community collaboration. It also connects members to personalized dynamic content, career and learning opportunities, and other member benefits.
3. Deliver the content they need.
Community Brands research shows that industry information is a top valued benefit across all career stages. It’s also a driver of member retention.
Using information gathered in your member survey and through analyzing and participating in your online community, provide industry papers and updates your members are seeking through your:
- Online community
- Email newsletter
- Social media accounts
- Webinars and other virtual events
4. Ask them to lend a hand.
During times of crisis, many people want to help. Create various volunteer opportunities that allow members to help based on their interests, skills, and availability. For example:
- Ask them to share content. Create a hashtag for members to use in social media posts, and then prompt your most active members to share how they’ve taken advantage of member benefits to tackle challenges during this year.
- Ask them to get conversations started. Invite your most involved members to start conversations in your online community by posting several times each week. These posts may include industry news, a call for suggestions about how to address a challenge, and questions to engage members. This approach gets active members even more involved while encouraging other members to participate more as well.
- Invite them to volunteer for virtual events. You ask members to volunteer for your in-person events, so why not virtual events? Invite them to help with anything from answering attendee questions and writing sponsor thank-you letters/emails to personally welcoming non-member attendees.
5. Help them advance their careers.
At the beginning of the pandemic, you might have reminded your members about the job board and continuing education opportunities your association provides. It might be time to remind them about these resources again as they pandemic drags on.
For example, there are many aspects of your career center that your members may not know about. Be sure to remind your members about the support your career center provides.
Also, you’re likely developing continuing education content already. Be sure to incorporate feedback from your member survey into your educational courses. And, make sure you have a solid plan to promote learning content so that members don’t miss out on it.
Discover more tips and tricks for getting members more involved and connected with your organization. Watch the on-demand webinar, Small association best practices to increase member engagement digitally.