Member engagement is the frequency and style of how you connect with your members. From newsletters and other communications to event planning and networking opportunities, member engagement is about building and nurturing relationships with your target audience.
When it comes to a nonprofit organization, member engagement can look a bit different than the engagement for-profit marketers and social media managers might look at. Online engagement for the latter could focus on website visits, page views, email opens, social media mentions, and “likes” or “follows.” These are important metrics, but nonprofits need to go even further. For instance, you’ll want to look at how members are engaging at events and in your offline community.
The ultimate goal is to gain and retain more members for your organization by demonstrating the value your membership offers them. Doing this involves using one or more touchpoints each day to engage your members. To succeed, you will need to learn how to set member engagement goals and how to gain member engagement tactics.
To help, let’s cover some basic best practices for building out a membership engagement strategy.
To create a member engagement strategy, you’ll need three main things:
1. Engagement Goals
2. Engagement Activities
3. Engagement Schedule
Your goals will help you determine which member engagement activities you want to focus on, such as social media or events. Then the activities you decide on will take you to your need of the engagement schedule.
To set goals and understand your member engagement, start with these questions:
1. How engaged are your members today?
2. What activities are engaged members performing?
3.How can you track the impact of these activities?
Segmenting your goals in the following ways can also help:
Member lifecycle stage. Someone who has just joined will face different challenges and want different value from your organization than someone who has been with you for years.
Persona. Being aware of the types of people you have in your organization and what they’re looking for can help you build goals that are tailored to each of them.
Platform. Having goals broke down by platform (i.g. events and website) can help drive more insight to your member engagement.
Once you’ve created these goals, the next step is deciding on the strategies you’ll use to build engagement and help work towards these goals. Some engagement ideas include:
Website – Your website is where your members go for information and insight, where they can participate in your online community, where they can register for events, manage their membership profile, and even their yearly renewal. It’s a crucial part of your organization and the engagement of your members. You can build and/or fine-tune your website for optimal engagement with Membership Management Software. Top membership organizations use it to create their website, host online resources, provide members unique logins, create online member directories, and more.
Social Media – This channel is increasingly important to enable and promote two-way social media engagement with members — creating a dialogue rather than a monologue. Share images, create interactive content, request member content, and more.
Online and Offline Community – Many people join membership organizations to meet other like-minded people with whom they have an interest, whether professional or personal, in common. While getting out into the physical community is key, bringing that same community online keeps the conversation and engagement continuously going.
Events – This one is simple and what most organizations focus on during the year. For the same reasons creating a community online and offline is important, events help your like-minded members interact with each other and your organization in a controlled environment that’s meant to entertain and making members feel at ease.
Now that you’ve gotten your goals and activities outlined, it’s time to create your schedule to execute. But what next? TRACK IT.
You know your members and their needs best which is why your member engagement strategy will be unique to your organization. But, with that said, if you aren’t keeping track of how you’re engaging members, how are you supposed to know if you’re succeeding or not?
Review and analyze the data from your social channels, website, and forums, look at attendance records for events, send out surveys, or have post-event conversations. There are many ways to examine the data you’ve gained and assessing it is what gives you results and future success.
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