7 New Year’s Resolution Ideas to Increase Member Engagement

Membership Liz Dupont

Time to take a look at what 2018 has to offer. Time to forge a new path. Time to celebrate another year of success and discovery and work on that all important mission to increase member engagement.

It’s always good to spend time reflecting on the past year. It can be difficult to assess your organization, but having a healthy awareness of your own shortcomings or missed opportunities is the first step to improving and making needed changes in your association.

Spend some time really examining where your association could stand to improve. Did you engage your members like you had hoped? Did you increase membership at the rate you had planned? If not, why not? What is one misstep that was made this past year that you plan to avoid in the future?

By asking these kinds of questions, you not only discover your association’s weaknesses and the causes behind them, but you also put yourself on a track to solve those issues. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Awareness of shortcomings is crucial to developing a plan to overcome them.

From there, make your resolutions! Set up a list of your association’s personal goals, and keep them front and center throughout the whole year. If you’re not sure where to start (either in self-assessment or resolution-making), we’ve put together a few ideas to get you rolling and start to increase member engagement in the new year. Here we go!

 

1. Resolve to increase member engagement through better social media presence

Social media is one of the best avenues of engagement — it’s immediate, it’s casual, it allows you to work in a variety of media formats, and it’s fun!

So how do you improve your social media presence in a way that increases member engagement?

This requires some footwork on your part, as you’ll need to think about and analyze how your members currently engage with you on social media. What types of posts trigger responses? What types of posts are ignored? What are your competitors posting, and are they successful in engaging their target with these posts?

By researching exactly how your members engage, you can optimize your posts to provide more content they want to see, and stimulate responses.

Remember, also, the very foundational aspects of social media engagement — for example, knowing which platform your target audience uses most, and using a number of different media forms. The latter is especially helpful in providing your audience with the variety that people crave. Mix up your text-heavy posts with images, video content, and exclusive information that gives your association a personal touch.

 

2. Resolve to use one new method of fundraising

Nothing kills an organization faster than a “same-old, same-old” mentality. And unfortunately, fundraising is one of those areas that can easily fall into a rut. While yearly fundraising traditions are important, it’s just as crucial to shake things up with something new. Fresh ideas and new sponsors are effective avenues to increase member engagement and to draw members back in.

Think of a few methods of fundraising that your organization hasn’t previously used. Perhaps you haven’t taken advantage of online fundraising, or maybe you just need to team up with a new corporate partner. Whatever route you choose, make sure that it’s one that will be appealing to your target audience, so you ensure their participation.

 

3. Resolve to create more member-centric content

In case you haven’t noticed a slight undercurrent in these resolutions, we’ll just say it explicitly now: your association should strive in each endeavor to be member-centric.

This may seem a little bit obvious, but we continue to stress it because as marketing becomes more data-driven and more tailored to customer experiences, people come to expect a high level of personalization and appeal to their preferences.

Nowhere is this more evident than in content creation. Every blog post you write, every webinar you host, every video you shoot — they should all begin and end with a member-centric focus. In planning what kind of content you create, all the way through development and dissemination, everything should be centered around what your audience likes, what kind of information they find valuable, and easy ways for them to access the information. In sum, you need to create content they want to see and then deliver it in an easily-digestible format in order to increase member engagement.

If your content strategy is lacking, then 2018 is your year to ramp up the content.

 

4. Resolve to effectively leverage trending culture

One of the criticisms often leveled against professional associations is that they aren’t relevant anymore — that social networks now replace any need for the networks associations now offer.

We all know that this isn’t the case, and that associations offer a huge value to their members in a number of ways. But unfortunately, in the climate in which we find ourselves, the onus is on us to prove our relevance. One of the ways this can be accomplished is by leveraging trending culture.

Now, this is a fine line to walk. If you appeal to a trend and it appears forced or put-on, the result will be the type of “fail” that will be difficult to recover from. However, with careful, timely use of trending material, you can remind members that your expertise is broad and relevant.

In this context, “trending” content doesn’t mean cat videos or hilarious memes (although those are great and we enjoy them immensely). Instead, leverage content that is directly or tangentially related to your association, for example, news or stories out of which you can spin a message that supports your organization and offer valuable insight to your members. This not only tells members that you’re relevant and engaged with the culture, but it also bolsters your position as a thought leader.

 

5. Resolve to incorporate native ads into your marketing

If you’re using a paid digital ad strategy, you probably know about native ads. Native advertising is becoming more popular than ever, because it provides a less-disruptive way to get your message to your target (remember our audience-centric theme?).

Native advertising is often confused with content marketing, because native ads often link to content or something valuable to the target. However, the main difference is that native ads are generally paid — either you pay for the space or you pay per click.

Now, there are several benefits to native ads:

They are less disruptive to the readers. Native ads aren’t pop-up ads that a user has to click away from. They are typically off to the side of some other content, or set off in a box so that it’s clear that this is sponsored content. Because it’s clear that these are ads and users can click or not, the control is entirely in the hands of the user.

Native ads are highly targeted. Since you can target who sees your ads, you have a better chance of getting clicks from users who are more likely to be warm leads for your association. This means more effective marketing spend for you and another chance to increase member engagement.

Native advertising offers value. It’s a rare day when an advertising is actually valuable for the viewer. But here we are. Native ads are generally content-based, which means they offer actual valuable insight for the user — not just a kitschy ad slogan.

 

6. Offer members new career development opportunities

Members of any association are typically looking for some type of career development. Your association can give it to them with a fully integrated job board and career center. Members can perform searches, set up job alerts, and even be matched to jobs that suit their specific experience and interests. Additionally, you’ll have more appeal to employers who wish to list jobs if you offer pre-screening for your candidates and other applicant management tools.

In many ways, your job board can become a key component of your member-building and non-dues revenue building strategies while also working to increase member engagement. Your job board will not only be a benefit, but a draw that keeps revenue and new members filtering in.

If you’re not sure where to begin with starting a job board for your members, Web Scribble offers intuitive software that can help you create and manage your own board, so you don’t have to put your job listings into the hands of a third party. This allows you to maximize your revenue and streamline expenses so you can focus on a better experience for members and employers alike.

 

7. Resolve to discover and advance your association’s strengths

Let’s finish on a high note. An end-of-year assessment may be a downer if you’re only looking at your organization’s weaknesses. But this isn’t the whole picture.

Your organization most certainly has strong areas, and those need to be examined as well. What does your association do better than the rest? Are you strong in content creation? Do you have a robust targeting strategy? Perhaps you’re really good member engagement through personal outreach, or maybe your fundraising game is unmatched.

Look at these areas of achievement and celebrate them. Then, play off your strengths in the coming year to keep them strong and perhaps even advance them further.

With a little reflection and careful strategy, you’ll march into 2018 prepared, positive, and ready to succeed.