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Use Digital Channels and Technology to Enhance Member Engagement
Member engagement is a never-ending objective for all nonprofit associations, and it requires constant honing in order to remain effective. Capitalizing on on-site engagement opportunities at events can be very rewarding, but time is limited and the more attendees involved, the more difficult it is for direct interaction. In order to create a year-round approach to membership engagement, boards need to go beyond face-to-face engagement and leverage digital channels and technology. By doing so, they can extend their reach exponentially in both numbers and depth.

Below are best practices based on both emerging trends and new twists on well-documented practices that boards can easily adopt and adapt to build stronger relationships with their members. 
  • Virtual business meetings. Annual business meetings, normally held at an association’s premier event, are an association mainstay and are a great way to update attendees on association, board and committee activities. However, the reach is limited to members who attend the conference. Alternatively, some associations are taking advantage of interactive webinars to extend the reach of these meetings. Logistics and expenses are no longer barriers and members can log-in from their offices and still directly interact in real time with board members, other association leaders and staff.
  • Videos. Posting each board member’s picture in a board list on the association’s website is not enough to make a memorable connection with association members. Instead, try using fun, engaging videos to introduce new board members on an annual basis. Maximize the reach of these videos by posting them on social media and on the association’s website, as well as highlighting them on-site at conferences. Boards can also use videos not just to introduce new members, but also to reinforce the value of membership, promote attendance at events, share updates from headquarters, etc. 
  • Virtual networking. Create a dynamic relationship-building and networking opportunity on your website by including each board member’s email and direct links to their social media pages, websites, blogs, etc. In addition to helping to make relationships happen, it is also a good way for board members to recruit and identify top talent that could potentially contribute to the association on committees and task forces.
  • Voicemail drops and personalized emails. Many associations use basic voicemail drops and blast emails to promote membership renewals, registration and other offerings. However, an association can re-invigorate these older practices by leveraging members of the board to communicate personalized messages. A voicemail drop from the president is more engaging and compelling than a generic, unsigned message from headquarters. When it comes to blast emails, try segmenting the distribution list and connecting unique groups to specific board members. For example, if a prominent board member is located in California, send a personalized message from this board member to all members located on the West Coast.
Take advantage of today’s digital channels and technology by not just connecting with larger audiences, but rather making connections more personal and unique. This will draw members closer to your organization and make them more likely to renew their membership, attend events, leverage member benefits and speak highly of the organization to their peers and professional contacts.

 

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FEBRUARY 2015 EDITION
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Board Forward is published 10 times a year by SmithBucklin, the association management and services company more organizations turn to than any other. SmithBucklin has served volunteer board members for more than 60 years.

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