Member engagement – everyone’s talking about, everyone strives for it, but within associations member engagement is imperative in the ongoing success and growth. But what is it and how can it be achieved? Member engagement is about commanding the attention of your members to be a mainstay and an ongoing relationship both on and offline that reminds them of the important role your association plays. Increased member engagement will help your association add value by understanding your members’ needs, building trust and ultimately grow your association through renewals and new membership enquiries.
Providing your members with a personalised experience with your association will not only show that you know them but also that you understand their needs. According to a report by Smarter HQ 72% of consumers say they now only engage with messaging that is tailored specifically to their interests. It is therefore worth investing in creating segmented and tailored emails and social media posts that cater for different types of members on different channels. Members will quickly switch off from generic, featureless content, so within the remit of your brand guidelines, use relateable language and where possible, and data compliant, address individuals by name.
To further demonstrate that your association understands and values the opinions of its members, use every engagement opportunity as a chance to invite dialogue and encourage conversation. Generic ‘catch all’ email addresses are at best off-putting. Why not instead invite members DM you, call or even send you a text? Make your association available and on hand to cater for your members’ needs and responses and watch how people respond.
Ask for a favour
Don’t be afraid to reach out to your members if you need feedback, support or dialogue about a subject, news article or survey. Being transparent about your motivation for including them in the campaign will not only further build trust but also create an inclusive and collaborative environment that places your association alongside and working with your members.
Build a community
Connecting members is another way to build engagement. This can be achieved by using a combination of your events calendar and online opportunities for members to communicate. Providing members with online groups or forums for discussion and collaboration will enable you or a representative from your association to be part of that community whilst officially representing your brand and demonstrating your knowledge.
Be ready to respond
All efforts to engage with members are ultimately fruitless if you are not staffed or equipped to respond sufficiently. If you have asked members to contact you via social channels, make sure someone is monitoring those inboxes. Waiting for phone calls? Then always stipulate when those calls will be answered and make sure the lines are covered.
Be consistent and authentic
In order for your members to first recognise your communication channels and engage with them, your messaging and branding should be consistent and professional across all platforms. Your messaging should relate all campaigning back to your core values and actions. This will also enable multiple authors and contributors to work within the communications strategy whilst staying true to your organisation’s stance and ‘voice’.
The human element
Injecting a human element into your communications plan is essential in resonating with your members. Case studies, member testimonials and celebrating your members’ achievements will contribute to a connected online community. It will also add value by offering members additional exposure on your channels. Running members’ competitions, spotlights or showcases and inviting members to ‘take over’ a channel for the day to add personality and charm to your social media feed.
Remember, efforts to engage members are always worth it. It takes time, strategy and resources to engage with members, but these efforts to resonate with them will ultimately pay dividends when it comes to growing your association. As your members continue to recognise the value from your association, they in turn will invest more in your activity.