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No matter how you look at it, the level of engagement each individual member experiences is a major indicator of whether or not they will renew with an association. We have all heard that a member is most at risk of not renewing during their first year. It is important to realize that the moment you take their payment, the clock is officially running on your retention efforts. This is when your association needs to connect with every new member, help them feel valued, and most importantly, make sure they realize the value of what their membership dollars are buying.

And while geographical and time constraints make it more challenging to make a physical connection with every member, there are tools at your disposal to help engage and connect with a member whether they are across town, across the state or somewhere across the nation or the world.

We live and work in a social world and that includes LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as private online communities. According to Reggie Henry, CIO for ASAE, associations need to provide tools that allow staff to become more social in the ways they connect and interact with members. But what exactly does that mean?

We know what the big social networks offer, but unfortunately those “free” offerings often come at the expense of “renting” out your association’s brand. Your organization and your members are not the customer, you are the product. Your presence gives them credibility, marketability and ultimately adds value to their brand, not yours. But that doesn’t mean they are not a useful component of your overall engagement strategy.

I wanted to dig a little deeper into what a private online community means to an association today, especially when compared with the aforementioned social networks. So I contacted Ben Martin, CAE, Chief Engagement Office for Online Community Results and get his take on social networking, online communities and driving member engagement with this technology. In this special edition of Ask the Thought Leader, Ben provides some food for thought when it comes to defining your social networking efforts to build brand awareness and ultimately greater member value through engagement.

Please note that our next CAE accredited Thought Leadership Webinar will be held on May 20th. Join Elizabeth Weaver Engel, M.A., CAE and Anna Caraveli, PhD as they premiere their new whitepaper during their presentation Leading Engagement from the Outside In: Become an Indispensable Partner in Your Members’ Success.  Registration is free, so please mark your calendar and join us for another outstanding topic that will help your organization drive an effective engagement strategy.