You know that NOW is the time to get your members engaged socially. But wait-that’s easier said than done, right?
Ever feel like you’re reacting to low engagement metrics rather than working through an established, proactive plan to highlight value and benefit to your members? Do you know why you do the things you do as they pertain to creating content and working to evoke engagement within your association?
Before you stick with the same, tried-and-true (or maybe not-so-true) methods for effective member engagement in a virtual environment, try these must-have strategies:
1. Understand Your Niche
However, even though you may want to be, you can’t be the association for everyone. You need to stay focused and determine, realistically, what your target focus is and HOW you will reach members. Make a list of topics, poll your members, and dive into your engagement data (if you don’t’ have any-we need to talk) to understand member needs. Use your competitors to research what’s missing in your industry and carve out niche content in those areas. Look at your current membership base’s demographics–trends will rise to the surface, trust me! Stay away from “we collaborate on everything” and be specific.
2. Define Member Needs
Ever heard the phrase, “Ask and you shall receive.” ? This should be your mantra and mission.
Ask your members and the virtual community at large what they want. What are they missing from other organizations? What questions do they need answered?
You need to continuously know the answer to “what’s in it for me?” from your members’ point of view. Be able to provide relevant answers to the problems or situations your members, and even potential members, are facing. For example, new leaders/young professionals may voice concerns about the availability of mentoring while the more seasoned members are focused on new legislative changes and how they could impact their professional organization.
You need to shake it up when your members tell you to; they’re the driving force.
3. Your Content Has Value-Flaunt It
When you get to the point of creating and sharing content to members, do you know how you will present it? Based on the research you now have in your hands about what members want and what they aren’t getting from similar associations, you can provide! Open the communication loop and give your members an opportunity to provide feedback on content you post. Highlight member engagement, growth, and achievement. Don’t be afraid to ask your members questions and let their responses create content all on its own. Above all, ensure that your content is easily accessible and integrates into their existing workflows.
4. Create, Track, Repeat
Metrics are an important part of any member engagement strategy. Set up methods for tracking your content creation, stages of engagement, and how (and when) members break the ice and start collaborating.
And if it’s not working? Change it up! In this age of real-time information and fast-paced media, there’s no reason to hold on to an engagement strategy that isn’t proving its worth over a few months.
Getting Them Inside A Virtual Platform Is The Easy Part. Keeping Them Engaged Is The Challenge.
Once you established what topics you need to cover (and created the content to support them), the hard part is actually empowering your members to engage within your virtual platform. So, make it easy. A thriving virtual environment is providing benefits/value in ways that are easily accessible and digestible to members on the go. Members have more distractions and busier schedules than ever before and the association’s job is to evolve so that the benefits it offers are accessible on-the-go and meet the members changing needs.
Once you’ve found your groove for engaging members, let the conversations flow! You will notice that your members begin to take control and actually spark the conversations without the need to prompted (or even prodded).