Association Member Engagement During a Recession

February 27th, 2009

Let’s face it, your members are bombarded by an army of well-intentioned resources (your competitors) ready to network, educate and sell to them, right? So how do you cement your “bond” with members so they remain with you for as long as humanly possible all while bragging about you to others?

A big part of the answer can be found in your member engagement strategies, specially how you attract and coax conversations online. Given the state of the economy, let’s focus on three online strategies where you can still stand out in the marketplace.

1. The Power of Asking | Polling Questions
Getting a member to participate in a dialog often takes asking a question, but not just any question, we’re talking about the provocative question that begs for an opinion to be shared. This strategy can make your organization the industry opinion resource by using a tactic such as, “Question of the Week”.

Think of the Gallup Polls, they are constantly asking public opinion questions related to timely topics. Why not apply this principle to your membership base? You can disseminate the questions and answers via email; on your website; within online presentations, such as webinars; and within social networking websites. With online survey tools, data collection has never been easier, just don’t be tempted to ask more than one question at a time (that constitutes a survey!).

This strategy can not only actively engage members, it can also provide valuable insights about your members’ real attitudes, perceptions, fears, hopes, you name it.

Keep in mind
Polls should not be used to measure member satisfaction. This is about being an aggregator and distributor of interesting industry opinions. If you ask it, be ready to report the results!

2. The Power of Thought Leadership | Webinars
We know members are continually seeking solutions to problems and with travel budgets being cut members will be looking for solutions closer to home. When you couple the right content and marketing promotion, webinars can be a powerful attraction marketing strategy.

Webinars are generally PowerPoint presentations delivered over the web with a presenter’s voiceover. They can be used to showcase your association’s thought leadership on legislative and regulatory issues and updates; provide continuing education programs; training on a timely topic or delivering credential program education. And the more your members are watching your content, the more they are becoming committed to your organization. Plus webinars can be recorded, expanding their shelf-life as on-demand programs residing on your website.

Keep in mind
Studies regarding webinars show that most attendees prefer solo presenters doing “deep dives” on more narrowly focused topics. Webinars are perfectly poised to compete with out-of-town workshops and conferences, so get ready to get very comfortable with webinars.

3. The Power of Social Networking | Online Groups
While members have joined your network, why not have your organization join their social networks? The power of social networks is manifold but from a membership perspective it’s really about engagement and becoming a part of your member’s online identity.

Your organization can set up a group within established social networks where your members already congregate, places like LinkedIn and Facebook are two of the biggest social networks. Having an organizational presence on these social networks allows your members to both engage online and easily tell others in their personal networks about your events and resources. Plus social networks can become a form of “field research” where you can gather insights about your members by observing what they chose to ask and talk about in your groups.

Keep in mind
There only 800 member organizations currently using LinkedIn, so there’s still plenty of opportunity. The average age for a LinkedIn user is now 41 years old. Facebook has also gained a lot of traction with at least 40% of its subscriber base over the age of 35 years old.

If you prefer to build your own social network, check out which provides programmable platforms that allow for custom branding, member blogs, online chat, discussion forums, event calendars and many more features.

Brand Mentoring - Pecanne Eby
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