‘Engagement’ is more than a management buzzword, it is a critical activity for membership associations. Not-for-profit associations exist primarily for their members, so keeping them truly engaged is vital for survival. Every interaction by phone, in person or online is an opportunity to truly connect with members. Each website visit, email newsletter, tweet, online post and click-through is engagement. Maximising these touch points keeps members informed about what their association is doing and is an important step towards retention. The most successful associations develop member engagement strategies to meet their specific goals and objectives.
Depending on the membership there are several ways to leverage engagement. A professional, mobile responsive, easy to navigate website remains the foundation of an online identity. This is where members and potential members go for general information, so ensure it is relevant, useful and easy to use. As a living document, websites serve well as a hub for member resources, event registrations, professional development, research and activity updates. Also include FAQ’s, content that can be easily shared and strong SEO.
Develop fresh online content to encourage return website visits and create an editorial calendar to manage regular postings. Target content by channel, audience and work stream, offering members both what they want and need. When new content is available, alert your membership through your newsletter, email, social media and video. Tap into your memberships communication preferences. Not everyone wants to receive information the same way so customise your approach wherever possible. Some members prefer newsletters, others like to attend events or use social media. Regardless, always find ways to leverage and cross promote new online content to keep members actively involved.
Authentic engagement isn’t a one way flow of information, it is a dialogue. Encourage a two-way conversation through blogs, online surveys and social media like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. Ultimately, use social media to draw members to your website where you can demonstrate member value. Ask questions and listen to member’s comments, then align member engagement initiatives with association objectives. Always aim to be relevant and connect well with your membership for a genuine, long lasting relationship.
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