Let’s Get Digital: 3 Strategies to Boost Member Engagement Online
As times change, so must the ways member-based organizations connect with their audiences. Let’s face it; traditional engagement methods alone are not enough to keep up. Thankfully, there’s good news: with the changing tides come opportunities to improve your content and optimize your membership growth strategies.
In this article, we’ll be taking a look at how you can increase your member engagement virtually through online networking opportunities, upskilling events, and accessibility options. Don’t fight the tide–go with the flow and make the current yours!
1. Provide Plenty of Opportunities to Network Online
One of the major reasons people join member-based organizations is to connect with other like-minded professionals. Because of this, you want to make sure you’re offering your audience as many interaction opportunities as possible!
First, you’ll want to start with the basics: forums and discussion boards. By hosting these on your organization’s website, you’ll keep from driving traffic away from your brand. These pages will give members the chance to create and reply to threads on all sorts of topics.
You’ll of course want to focus on industry specifics, but give them a chance to socialize a little, too; consider creating a “Media of the Month Club” thread where members can consume the designated media of the month (be it a book, a movie, a podcast, or a TV show) and discuss. All work and no play can make forums a dull section, after all!
Next, you’ll want to work on your member-specific pages. By letting members create their own individual profile pages, you allow them the chance to connect with your organization on a deeper level; customization gives people a sense of ownership over their page (and by extension, their membership).
Offer e-badges for the completion of various courses, tracks, and achievements–these little electronic “stickers” will give members a sense of accomplishment while also promoting your organization’s offerings. You don’t have to stick to the traditional e-badges like “number of courses completed” or “days logged in consecutively”, either–try thinking outside the box for fun and memorable awards. Your members will appreciate the creativity, and you may get a little extra promotional mileage if it’s meme-able!
Finally, you won’t want to forget your organization’s social media channels. Be sure to post consistently, with lots of valuable, timely, and relevant information! Social media is a great place to encourage engagement through contests and giveaways. Reward your members for interacting with your accounts; create games where those who like, comment, and follow you have the chance to win fun prizes or swag. Everyone likes to feel like a winner!
2. Create Endless Opportunities to Upskill
Another main reason people join member-based organizations is to advance their professional development. Don’t leave your members hanging; give them plenty of chances to advance and improve! You can do this in a variety of ways.
First, you’ll want to create a solid backlog of quality continuing education courses. Make sure to focus on topics that members won’t find anywhere else; by offering niche, valuable education, you’ll be putting your organization a step ahead of its CE competitors.
Not everything has to be a multi-part course filled with modules, either; you can provide timely one-off courses (for a reduced fee) that cover emergent topics in your industry. This will let you (and your members!) stay current.
Off/Online: Mutually Exclusive No More!
Hybrid events present a fantastic opportunity for organizations and members alike. These offline-online sessions give you access to up to three audiences (and revenue streams) at once:
- First, you have those who attend the traditional, in-person session.
- Second, by recording the event, you can create an on-demand mini-course to add to your organization’s CE.
- Finally (and optionally), you can choose to livestream the event to those who can’t make it in person.
The potential hybrid events present is unmatched!
If you don’t want to go the hybrid route, however, you still have options. You can host (and record!) live webinars that cover current topics in your industry. To make these sessions extra engaging, make sure to incorporate a chat function.
This is especially important if you choose to host Ask Me Anything sessions with prominent industry experts; the chat function will allow the presenter to interact with the audience and answer questions live! AMAs can also be taken to the member forums, where new members can learn more about their chosen career paths.
Finally, make sure your organization has a strong resource centre where members can find articles, whitepapers, useful links, and more. By creating an information hub, you’re boosting your audience’s trust and keeping them close. Members appreciate having everything at their fingertips.
3. Make Everything Excellently Accessible
You can host all the quality resources you want–if you don’t make them easy to find, your members will never access any of them! You don’t want the work you put into your CE wasted, so be sure to focus on your website’s design, too. You want it to be intuitive, logical, and pleasant.
User interface (i.e. the way your site looks and navigates) is important, but user experience (i.e. how it feels to navigate your site, if the actual flow of the design is logical) is becoming increasingly crucial, too.
One of the first things you look at should be mobile-responsiveness. Users are no longer limited to desktop-view only, so you need your website to look snappy regardless of the screen it’s viewed on. Keep your site up-to-date and modern looking–you don’t want visitors to think you stopped updating in the 90’s!
It is especially important for your website’s search function. You want to make sure that members can find whatever they’re looking for, be it a specific CE course or resource. Make sure there are plenty of filtering options (popularity, date added, category, keywords, etc.) that users can apply.
You also want your content to be easy to navigate and cohesive with your other sites; consistency is key! Make sure your CE section, your organization’s store, your knowledge hub, and your landing pages all connect seamlessly. Your members will thank you!
You may also like: 6 Methods to Easily Increase Member Engagement
While the online world may be hard to adapt to at times, it also presents member-based organizations with a field of new opportunities to discover and make their own. Don’t let these chances pass you by–make sure to give your members plenty of places to network online, to grant many occasions to upskill, and to keep your website highly accessible. Your audience is waiting!