Less than two weeks ago, Incline Marketing’s president Marc Cousineau presented at the Canadian Society of Association Executives, Trillium Chapter’s Winter Summit conference. Part of the talk centred around integrating social media into an association’s member recruitment and retention efforts.
The basis of the presentation was that there are different segments within the larger member demographic and each segment values something different that your association can provide. Social media is an important tool your organization can use to highlight this value to current and potential members, no matter their type.
Although there are dozens of different kinds of members at each association, the discussion at the Winter Summit focused on five key member demographics; the loyal member, the lapsed member, the never-been-a-member member, the new-to-the-industry member and the service provider member. The talk went through each member group and illustrated the ways in which social media can unmask the value an association can deliver to each group, thereby boosting the recruitment/retention efforts.
The following are examples of social media content that can be used by association to attract each of the aforementioned membership groups based on what they value most.
The Loyal Member
The Loyal Member is the kind of individual who renews their membership year in and year out, participates in association activities and is a champion for your organization. They are most likely a veteran of the industry their in and have moved up the career ladder. The value they see in your association probably firmly rests in the relationships they have built as a member and attaining high-level education that matches their lofty career status.
Above is an example of how your association can use a regular blog post to address the Loyal Member’s desire to receive education and information that helps them in their high-level career role. A blog allows your association to pinpoint issues that matter most to different members and create useful content around these issues. There is also an accompanying tweet that highlights the work of the association, broadens the reach of your blog and drives traffic to your website.
The Lapsed Member
There are a variety of reasons that someone may become a Lapsed Member; a reduced budget with no room for dues, a bad customer service experience or the big one, a perceived lack of value from joining the association. Sometimes members believe that the investment was not worth the outcome and therefore choose not to renew. Social media can help them rethink this stance.
The video and accompanying tweet are all about showing members how to maximize value. Using the example of a conference, the short video is a piece of content your association can create to explain how attendees/members can achieve the greatest return on their investment while highlighting some aspects of the event people may not know about. Creating various types of content like this one across multiple platforms makes it possible for a greater number of members to experience all the value they can get from your association and making it more likely they realize a return that they believe is worth renewing their dues for.
The Never-Been-A-Member Member
These individuals are very similar to the lapsed member, save for one difference; they never even gave your association a chance. These are the people who have never been members for as long as they’ve been in the industry. This can be for a variety of reasons, such as letting negative reviews from others influence their dismissal of the association, but the most common being once again that they perceive a lack of value from joining. Social media can come to the rescue in this situation.
If you are familiar with the Humans of New York Facebook page, you will recognize this strategy and how it can be used by associations (if you’re not familiar with HONY, definitely check it out!). The Facebook album with small profiles of members talking about the value they have received from being an association member can be helpful in several ways. The most important is that it communicates to non-members the pay-offs of being a member from a perspective they can trust and relate to. It places the audience in a setting they are familiar with and used images and quotes to directly address issues they find important, placing your association as a solution to the challenges or problems of their career.
The New-To-The-Industry Member
These individuals are most likely young professionals, fresh-faced and just out of school, or those who have made a career change. They are trying to decide whether to join your association or not and the choice they make now will likely set them on a path for the rest of their careers. That is why it is important to use your association’s resources, of which social media is an important part, to show them the value of membership and build a lasting relationship.
The infographic above is the kind of visual content that can be posted to multiple platforms, like Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and a blog, making it the perfect type to reach the most people. It illustrates the ways in which your association can help those new to the industry develop their career and get ahead. It uses data and numbers in a visual way to show them step by step what your association offers that other paths do not. It gets specific and helps the potential member view the association in a way that allows them to maximize its value and get the most return for their investment.
The Service Provide/Business Member
This type of member are those who offer services or products to your other member groups, such as exhibitors, vendors, large companies, small businesses and the like. It’s all about dollars and cents for these members. Yes, they do appreciate the ability to keep on top of industry trends that membership affords them, but being a member of an association is all about the exposure, networking and business opportunities it presents them. Social media can show these individuals that they are better off staying or becoming a member than going out on their own to achieve the same goal.
The above image is a mock up of a Pinterest board that creates an online ‘Marketplace’ connecting business members with your association’s other members. It acts much the same way as a hard copy source guide or directory. Business members get a place on the board, a picture and a description. Members can then log on and click on a service provider they are interested in, which would direct them to the business member’s website. The allure for business members is a year-round, easily accessible area through which they gain exposure to other members. Additionally, they get traffic directed to their site and increased opportunities to convert leads into sales.