Your online community can be a powerful communications tool for your association.
Read on for five ideas that will help you use your virtual community to get the word out to members about the great benefits available to them.
By Christine Bergeron, Marketing Coordinator, Community Brands
Your association has a lot to offer members. You provide everything from industry news and networking events to professional development opportunities.
As you build your communications plan for getting the word out to members about the great benefits available to them, be sure to include your online member community. Besides being a valuable member benefit in itself (for social networking among your association’s members and prospective members), your online community can also be a powerful communications tool for your association.
What if your association doesn’t have an online member community?
If you’re association hasn’t gotten started yet with an online community, read The Small Association’s Guide to Getting Started with an Online Community for tips to help you get one off the ground. And when you need a technology platform to set up your virtual member community, keep in mind that YourMembership AMS by Community Brands includes easy-to-use online community functionality.
How to use your online member community as a communications channel
Now let’s look at five ideas for using your online community as an effective communications channel:
1. Post important content.
In the 2021 Association Trends Study by Community Brands, the benefit members in the study say is most important is industry news and information. In short, people often join an organization to stay up to date about what’s going on in their industry.
So, take the opportunity to house important content in your online member community, such as:
- Breaking industry news
- The latest reports on industry best practices
- New insights from industry thought leaders
Also, post other content important to members, including:
- Membership publications
- Content written by your association, volunteers, and sponsors
- Your association’s code of ethics (code of ethics is in the top five most important member benefits according to members in the 2021 Association Trends Study)
Posting important content turns your online community into the go-to place for information. It also provides an environment in which to create dialog around your content, get feedback, and keep members coming back for more – an effective approach for member engagement and retention.
2. Highlight useful information.
Use your online community’s quick announcement area to draw attention to important information, such as new educational activities and breaking industry news. That way, members won’t miss out on timely content.
TIP: By using the “Quick Announcement” area in YourMembership’s online community functionality, you can improve visibility of your latest news or campaigns, ensuring your members are the first to be in-the-know.
3. Encourage professional development.
In the 2021 Association Trends Study, members ranked training as the second most important benefit. The study’s findings also suggest that members turn most frequently to their employer or their association for professional education and training. So, be sure to promote your association’s educational activities, such as continuing education credit opportunities, on your online community.
Also, integrate your learning management system (LMS) with your online community to make it easy for members to navigate from the community to your e-learning catalog, and allow members to track their earned credits through the online community.
TIP: YourMembership Learning is an easy-to-use LMS that integrates with YourMembership AMS. It gives you multiple ways to manage and deliver professional development and provide a great member and learner experience.
4. Promote job opportunities.
Help your members find their next job: Highlight job opportunities from your career center in your online member community. This approach helps to remind members of another valuable benefit your association provides.
TIP: YourMembership AMS integrates with YM Careers by Community Brands, which offers job board software and a wide range of career center solutions for associations.
5. Get feedback (and put it to use).
Use your online community to better understand what members want. Pay attention to what members are talking about in your online community. Join in conversations to encourage more discussion and feedback. Set up online surveys and polls, and promote them in posts to your online community to gather member feedback. Then, use this information to improve your communications strategy.
Even with a small staff, you can create communications that attract, engage, and retain members – ultimately delivering a stellar member experience and drive revenue for your association. Learn more practical tips and ideas for taking your communications plan to the next level: Read the guide, 8 Ways to Enhance the Communications Strategy for Your Association.