If you work for or run a membership organization, one of the main concerns that you may have is how to keep your members engaged. During a time when most people are pulled in 100 different directions, it can be hard to break through the noise. So how exactly can you make sure that your members stay engaged with your content and your mission?
The first step in the process involves setting goals for engagement. From there, you can create a strategy designed to reach those goals. Your techniques should combine online and offline activities that complement each other and create opportunities for your members to interact in a way that works best for them.
At Inclind, we work with membership organizations, nonprofits, and other entities to help them design and develop a website that meets their needs - including membership engagement. Our services include everything from initial web design and development to ongoing support and maintenance, website redesign, and custom integrations. Reach out today to schedule a consultation with a member of our team.
Setting Member Engagement Goals
The first step in creating a member engagement strategy is to understand what member engagement actually is. At its most basic level, member engagement is about how and how often you connect with your members. The goal of member engagement is to retain existing members and build membership by demonstrating the value your organization offers to members.
To set membership engagement goals, you will need to take a hard look at your current numbers. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How engaged are your members today?
- Are your members satisfied with the level of benefits or engagement that you provide?
- What activities are most popular among members?
- Which activities are a miss for your members?
The answers to these questions will help to determine what your goals should be for membership engagement.
Keep in mind that membership engagement goals can be further broken down into segments based on your members, the length of time that they have belonged to your organization, and how you want to engage them (online versus offline). For example, if you run a club for dog owners, you may have different goals for new dog owners (who may prioritize training for their dogs) versus long-time dog owners and members (who may be more interested in social meet-ups). You can personalize your goals based on these and other factors.
Your membership engagement goals could look very different based on how you answered these questions and what is most important to your organization. In the dog club example above, you might set a goal of getting 50% of new dog owners to sign up for one training session. If you run a local alumni group, then your goal may be to recruit 50 new members and get them to input their basic information (such as current job) into the database so that you can create better alumni connections. The next step of the process is to create a strategy that helps you reach those goals - whatever they may be.
Developing a Membership Engagement Strategy
Now that you have set engagement goals, you will need to create a strategy to meet these goals. As a website design and development company, we could tell you that your website is the single most important aspect of membership engagement - but that isn’t necessarily true. Most member organizations include some element of in-person interaction. For this reason, it is important to design a strategy that meets your goals using a combination of techniques.
A great membership engagement strategy should include most of the following elements:
- A well-designed, accessible website with a member's section
- Content to engage members
- A smart social media plan
- Opportunities to interact online and offline
When executed correctly, a membership engagement strategy can help your members feel happier with their benefits and may even help to grow your organization.
Engaging Members Through Your Website
In 2023, a website is necessary for most businesses and organizations. Generally, your website is your primary online identity. While social media can support your website, it is a good idea also to have a website where your members can go for information and insight.
Your website should also be a place where prospective members can learn how to join and register to become members. Similarly, current members should be able to view their existing profile and renew their membership (if applicable). A website may also include a calendar of events, an ability to register for events, and even an online forum where members can communicate.
A membership website is different from a typical website, as it will allow members to register, log in, and view online resources. You can also use a membership site to create online member directories and other vital information. You can often add these features by using custom software or plug-ins. An experienced website developer can work with you to create a membership-focused website that meets your needs as an organization.
Creating Content to Drive Engagement
Of course, a membership engagement strategy requires more than just having a website. Your site should have fresh content that is targeted to your audience. The type of content may vary based on what type of organization you run. For example, suppose you run a birdwatching club. In that case, you may want to create blog posts about important news, such as a mysterious bird illness that was causing unexplained deaths and led wildlife agencies to advise against using bird feeders.
Good ideas for content include:
- A calendar that covers events for the coming months
- Information about events
- Fundraising campaigns
- Legislative or political issues
- Member stories
- Photos or videos of recent events
The key is to make sure that your website is up-to-date. Having fresh content goes a long way toward credibility - and member interest and engagement.
Using Social Media to Boost Engagement
Social media is more popular than ever in the U.S. The type of social media you use will be based on where your members spend the most time. While having a Facebook page is fairly standard for most organizations, you may also consider starting an Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat, and/or TikTok account.
Social media should not be the only part of your member engagement strategies. However, you should recognize that it remains one of the best ways to create a dialogue with members and address critical issues. Think of it this way: when you post something on your website, you are telling your members something. When you are active on social media, you are giving members an opportunity to respond - which is huge for member engagement.
When deciding what social media platforms to use - and what kind of content to create - consider what channels your audience uses the most, what kind of content they are looking for, and when they are most likely to be online. For example, if your organization's membership skews older, Facebook might be your best option. If your members are largely Zoomers, then the best place to find them might be TikTok.
Keep in mind that social media is often a visual medium. Long, wordy posts won’t perform as well as captivating images, graphics, or videos. Developing a social media calendar can help to keep you on track. If you’re struggling to develop content ideas, you can also create interactive content (like polls) or ask users for content - like photos of birds they saw on a recent bird-watching outing.
Create Opportunities for Engagement Online and Offline
Finally, your online engagement strategies should complement your offline engagement strategies. While some organizations may purely exist online - and that is perfect for the membership - many include some combination of online and offline engagement.
Consider ways to alert your members to fresh or new content when it comes to online engagement. This can include regular newsletter updates or emails and social media posts. You should also give your members a chance to engage with you online. That may be through an online forum, a blog with comments enabled, surveys, and/or social media.
Connecting in person is also important for membership organizations. You can do this in several ways, from sharing events that your organization or one of your members is hosting, encouraging members to volunteer, or even creating a referral program. Whatever in-person connections you offer, highlight them on your website and social media. After all, your members cannot engage offline unless they know about the events or opportunities beforehand - and the fastest, easiest, and cheapest way to do that is through an online channel.
How Inclind Can Help Your Membership Engagement Strategy
Membership organizations typically have a strong interest or expertise in a particular area - but it may not necessarily be website development. Having a great website - and the content and social media accounts to go with it - is critical for engaging members in your organization. Our team can help you create a website from scratch or update an existing website to meet your member engagement goals.
Based in Delaware, Inclind works with clients throughout the United States to help them build and maintain a website that works for them. We assist all types of organizations, from nonprofit organizations to healthcare entities to corporations to membership organizations and groups. We understand the unique needs of your membership organization and will collaborate with you to ensure your website reflects your mission.
We're available to talk if you’d like to learn more about our web services. You can fill out our online contact form or hit the live chat button to talk to one of our experts about your website.