Even small associations can use social media to take member engagement to the next level. Here’s how.

It might be time for your small association to “think bigger” when it comes to social media.

Consider this: The Community Brands Digital Evolution Study points to the top reasons that members join a professional organization. They include networking and staying up to date on news, regulations, and trends. In addition, according to Pew Research Center, seven-in-10 Americans use social media to connect with one another, engage with news content, share information, and entertain themselves.

The bottom line is that we’re living in a social networking world. And your association needs to be a part of that world to stay relevant with your members.

If your association is like most, your team likely already uses the most popular platforms, including YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn to promote your organization. But there are additional ways to use the social environment to deepen member engagement.

Develop a social strategy

While ad hoc posts to your primary social media accounts have their place, using social networking to its fullest for member engagement requires a plan. Your social media strategy should align with the needs and interests of your prospects.

Start by finding out where your ideal members are hanging out by researching your current members’ social media habits. For example, send your members a survey asking them what platforms they use and how they use them.

Then, use those social media channels to demonstrate your value as an information curator: In addition to sharing your own content, share interesting and informative content from other sources in your industry. Also, let followers know about the member experiences you provide – events, online learning, networking opportunities, publications, and other resources.

These approaches will not only attract new members but also get existing members more involved with your organization.

TIP: Leverage paid advertising on social media platforms to get your association in front of potential members that might not know about you. Many associations have found success in sponsored posts and content on LinkedIn.

Build an online member community

Offering an online community is a great way to elevate social networking among your association’s members and prospective members. At the same time, it can make your association a part of your members’ social networking habits.

Launching an online community when you have a small staff may seem like a big task, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are five steps to get you started.

  1. Select online member community technology.
    You can’t launch an online community without the platform to enable it. Look for technology that supports a modern member experience, with tools to help you keep members engaged.

    TECH TIP: YourMembership mobile app is an online community with a social mobile app. It’s built into YourMembership’s association management software to help you increase social and community collaboration. The mobile app connects members to personalized dynamic content, career and learning opportunities, and other member benefits.
  2. Recruit community ambassadors.
    One of the keys to a vibrant community is to get loyal members involved in posting and engaging. Kick off your online community with members who have already demonstrated a high level of commitment to your organization. Invite them to become ambassadors for your online community. Ask them to get conversations started by posting in the community several times each week.

    TECH TIP: Use YourMembership mobile app to automatically connect new members with top volunteer ambassadors, or “buddies,” who can help the new members get to know the organization and feel more welcome.
  3. Offer valuable content.
    One reason people join an association is to stay in-the-know about what’s going on in their industry. Make sure your online community offers members access to information, such as details about professional development, the latest reports on industry best practices, and new insights from industry thought leaders.

    TECH TIP: By using the “Quick Announcement” area in YourMembership mobile app, you can improve visibility of your latest news or campaigns, ensuring your members are the first to be in-the-know.
  4. Reward members for their participation.
    Acknowledge and reward active and engaged members. For example, display member activity and participation levels, encouraging members to return, share, and connect. Like your members’ posts. And go a step further by sending your top participants a handwritten note, providing them a discount code for an upcoming event, or partnering with them to produce a branded giveaway.

    TECH TIP: Using YourMembership mobile app makes it easy to measure member engagement through built-in engagement scoring.
  5. Promote the value of the online community.
    Members of your organization want to develop new relationships that further their career or improve their social standing. There is value in connecting them with a wide range of people with points of commonality, including professional training, expertise, experience, and a similar world view. Be sure to promote your online community in your member recruitment and onboarding activities. You’ll attract new members and get more members more involved.

    TECH TIP: Take your social media content even further by sharing it with your online community. YourMembership mobile app allows you to share relevant content, and also allows members to easily contribute to conversations through commenting, liking, and sharing.

Learn more about how to make you association a part of your members’ social networking habits. Read the Small Association’s Guide to Getting Started with an Online Member Community

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