Membership engagement is one of the most challenging and potentially frustrating aspects of managing an association. Organizations can spend countless hours improving their engagement by just a few percentage points, but that effort can pay off in dividends of more membership renewals and a higher level of satisfaction for all your members. Change management is most often applied in a business environment, but it translates perfectly into an association’s activities, as well. The same way that companies manage ongoing change when implementing new systems or procedures can also be used to improve member engagement over time. Here’s how it works.
Define the Current Levels of Member Engagement
Have you been reluctant to take accurate measurements of your actual member engagement for fear that it’s depressingly low? Like ripping off a bandage, taking the metrics can get the ouch over with so that improvements (healing, if you will) can begin. You will likely find that your numbers are quite close to the ’90-9-1′ rule: 90 percent of your members simply look at your messages and content, while just 9 percent respond to it, and only about 1 percent actively participates in developing new content. That’s okay! It’s actually quite normal and is a good place to begin. The principles of change management are about enacting long-term changes that stick, not just short-term changes that fail to make an impact over time.
Identify Areas for Improvement
Now that you have the metrics and know where you stand, it’s time to apply change management to finding areas for improvements. What do your most actively engaged members look like? Where did you find them? What can you do to find more like them? That will help you find more actively engaged members, but you’ll also need a strategy for boosting the engagement of your current members. When they view your content, how and where do they do so? Are they most likely to browse your blog? Open your emails? Visit your social media pages? Focus on what’s working, and make it better. Ask questions. Conduct polls and surveys. Make relevant and newsworthy announcements. Become their most reliable and powerful source of information.
Find New Arenas for Member Engagement
What information, news, and insight do you provide exclusively for your members that they can’t get elsewhere? Many associations are still stuck in the monthly email newsletter rut. Don’t limit yourself that way! Use a smartly designed AMS (association management system) to develop an active and intriguing online community. Reach out via social media—and don’t think that it only means having a Facebook page and Twitter feed. Branch out into new arenas like Instagram, Snapchat, and many of the emerging niche platforms, like Blab, LinkedIn, Google+, Meerkat, Ning, Periscope, and any others that are relevant to your field. Always be reaching out to members in new and creative ways.
Develop Strategies for Improvement
Change management involves developing a vision and then sharing that vision across the organization. What will your strategy for improving engagement be? Be specific, and be sure to include metrics for measuring each step for success. While you’re developing your strategy, list all of the resources you will need to make it successful and how you will acquire those resources. Identify people within your organization that can provide valuable information and resources. Make it an association-wide endeavor.
Monitor & Manage the Changes
Once your new strategies are in place, you will need to continually monitor improvements, tweak what isn’t working as well as it should, and focus more attention on the efforts that are paying off. Successful change management is a marathon, not a sprint, so be prepared to keep re-motivating your staff and continue making improvements over time. You’ll also need to be prepared to put the ax on any strategies that aren’t working out, so that you’ll have the time, energy, and resources to pour into the successful ones.
Is your AMS software cutting the mustard? If you’re not able to collect the right metrics or boost member engagement like you ought to be able to in the digital age, you need to get your hands on one that will work for you. Find out now by taking our AMS assessment.