There is no doubt that these are challenging times for associations. Not only do you have to keep your volunteer board and your Boomer members happy, but the increasing take up of various social media platforms means you also need to think about how you attract, engage and retain your (social media savvy) younger members.
Recent research by Survey Matters (the Associations Matter Study) revealed that many members are tuning into, or actively using, social media to keep up with information, trends, and news about their profession - 88% reported using internet searches for information about their field of expertise, 31% use webinars or podcasts and 17% are already part of a private social network.
The proliferation of online news and best practice information is shining a spotlight on the value proposition of associations. Members want tangible value from their membership, and in this “internet era” weekly or monthly e-newsletters, some professional development events and an annual conference are simply not enough.
So, with your members increasingly “going social” how do you remain relevant to them?
The good news is there are ways to achieve this, and to create better value for them as well. But firstly, you need to know your members:
- who they are...
- why they belong...
- what they value...
- how they want to interact...
Once you have this information you are able to craft your strategies to meet their (different) requirements. Invariably, this will mean identifying how they want to communicate. Email is the method they overwhelming prefer right now, but email is one to one interaction. We think the next step for associations is in creating an interface by which members can communicate and discuss in like-minded groups. In the words of one member:
“What is lacking is a truly progressive interaction within the profession of many to many - there is not good dialogue and engagement on this level which is the way of the future. This dialogue needs to be happening all the time and be instant” (Associations Matter Study, Member aged 30-45)
Private online communities can provide this platform. And they have become a very popular way of providing that “many-to-many” interaction between people who share common interests. They allow members to actively participate in discussions, network with their peers and share information and knowledge. Private online communities provide the means to create tangible value for your members, which delivers higher engagement levels and increased retention.
To learn more about understanding your members, private online communities and “going social”, register today
to take part in our FREE webinar to be held on Wednesday 18th June at 10am EST.