Member engagement is the cornerstone of all associations. When it comes to maintaining and expanding their member association base, membership schemes, conferences, and special events are considered a traditional form of keeping existing members engaged and attract potential supporters. However, in today’s current environment, resorting to traditional member engagement methods is not enough. When planning for the future, organisations are increasingly required to reach younger generations, and this requires developing a new engagement strategy. In our article, we examine the importance of leveraging new technologies when designing new ways of attracting and engaging members.
A Different Approach To Member Engagement
From a traditional perspective, engagement is measured by the number of active members which are often defined as those who pay their annual fees or attend conferences and other events. However, in today’s digital era, engagement metrics are closely linked to how often members interact with an organisation using online tools such as websites, online communities, and social networks.
Related: Member Engagement in Association Management
Within this context, engagement can be quantified by looking at the number of likes, follows, comments on blog posts, email enquiries, social mentions, forum logins, etc. The key takeaway is that building engagement with younger generations calls for a much wider understanding of what engagement is and how it should be quantified. While the objective is the same (to build long-term relationships), the methods vary, and member organisations must focus on creating experiences and providing opportunities for digital interaction.
The Importance Of Creating Experiences
Members associations need to take a qualitative approach to digital engagement. Instead of only measuring the frequency of site visits, it is important to focus on delivering a consistently flawless user experience and incorporating an experiential element into every organisational communication that is put forward using digital methods.
This entails much more than just choosing a design that is visually appealing. The focus here is on the quality and accessibility of information and the overall ease of use of an organisational site. In other words, you want to find a professional that cannot only design a website but an entire experience. At this point, it is crucial to avoid making assumptions about what site users may or may not want and instead consider the input of user experience/user research professionals and information architects. These are experts at helping you define your organisation’s primary goals and come up with efficient design and content placement strategies that gently steer site users towards those ends.
It is also wise to perform a site audit to define whether way-finding tools are in place. These are essential in the process of creating experiences since they address potential scenarios for each action that members may want to perform on your site, from event registration to signing up for a newsletter, downloading membership forms, or making a donation.
Engagement Through Digital and Interactive Content
Millennials (and to a lesser extent Generation X individuals) are primarily consumers of information and digital content. Nevertheless, content per se is not enough since only fresh, relevant, and valuable content can create engagement.
Relevance and value are determined by looking at what is important to members and site users, and not only to the organisation. To identify key concerns and member interests, spend some time “listening” to the conversations they are having on social media. The most important thing to note is that engagement avoids the mass production of content, and instead relies on delivering information that is tailored to the current needs and interests of members. The way in which content is presented matters too, and in today’s environment associations should capitalise on the power of video and images, avoiding stock photography and using real pictures to tell compelling stories visually.
Related: The Future is now: Identifying current Trends in Association Management
Members can also generate engaging content. Shareability and interaction are active components of social and digital member engagement, so it is crucial to ensure that members and supporters can share all forms of content (from pictures to blog posts and including emails and newsletters). Another way of providing opportunities to share and interact with content is the creation of digital communities, such as member forums, social media groups, webinars, virtual meet-ups, and opening blog posts to comments. If adequately used, these tools will enable the free-flowing and timely two-way communication that keeps members engaged.
By making every effort to ensure that your association has a digital presence built around experiential and interactive elements, you can improve your chances of attracting genuinely engaged members who have a positive impact on your association’s reputation.
Congrex Switzerland is an internationally operating agency delivering customised solutions. This encompasses the overall organisation of conferences and meetings including the management of hotel rooms and the strategic consultancy. Annually Congrex Switzerland organises approximately 33 events with over 73’000 delegates. Amongst our clients are international associations, governmental organisations and corporations.
If you wish to receive additional information about Congrex Switzerland, please feel free to contact us.