Connection = Growth
Is your association membership a diaspora that only comes together at the annual meeting?
Did you have to do some serious pivoting in the last several months to accommodate the mass migration to virtual communication?
Or perhaps your professional staff is simply exhausted from serving as the centralized clearinghouse for all resources and connection requests.
“Lack of engagement is cited as the #1 reason for not renewing memberships.”-- 2020 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report
These are indicators that you need to connect your membership in an ongoing, engaging community environment. A space where they can find self-serve information, talk to other members with similar interests, and advance their careers together.
And it doesn’t stop with renewals and retention.
Associations can benefit immensely from having a thriving online community.
- Grow paid membership
- Unify chapters or groups from geographically diverse communities
- Centralize research and resources, and remove barriers to access
- Connect members and continue discussions between live/virtual events
- Build reliable marketing data
- Give space for a more diverse array of voices
The key is to bring your community together in a way that adds value for everyone.
Increase value-add for membership - be sure to include details about your community as part of new member recruitment and onboarding. Include quotes or testimonials from current members regarding how the community benefited their career. As a bonus, you might be able to bring on sponsors or key partners who want to reach your membership in context.
Amplify your resources - especially if you're running on a shoestring; having a solid online community space can allow members to help each other, freeing time of the professional staff.
Recognize and foster leaders - one of the coolest things a community manager can do is offer recognition to members who step forward and support the mission; if the association is already recognizing outstanding members offline, why not extend that to the online world as well. You never know where the next leaders will come from.
Provide space for board members' private discussions - if your community platform allows privacy controls (and it should), you can set aside space for collaboration among board members in between face-to-face meetings.
Provide outreach without travel - everyone is interested in ongoing connections without the need for travel right now. With an online community, those connections can happen without risk, and without air travel and hotel expenses, any time.
Communicate benefits changes, additions - when a change is made to association rules, benefits, or other documentation, it can be communicated immediately via the online community. There is also great opportunity for Q&A from the members online; something that can't easily happen if they are just mailed a brochure.
Resource area - many associations have a physical library of information available to members. An online community can provide an almost unlimited library of resource information, with the added benefit of search and input from other members.
Meeting and resource planning - holding face-to-face meetings can be a logistical task that requires coordination among far-flung professionals. An online community can bring together the stakeholders to plan the event together, brainstorming speakers or activities and making sure the members are informed.
Campaign support - if the association runs awareness campaigns or calls to action, an online community is another avenue to reach out to membership and beyond. The campaign committee could share badges, information, and other tools for extending the campaign to all audiences.
Public relations - having an active array of social tools, including an online community, can support the PR goals of the association. If a crisis happens, it's important to have existing online infrastructure to get messages out quickly.
These are just some of the ways your association members can get immediate value from an online community platform like Crowdstack.
How have you integrated community with your association or professional organization?