Your members want to connect. The Community Brands 2022 Association Trends Study reports that the first reason members join associations is to network, and the sixth is to socialize.
Is your association maximizing the reach of your online community? With proper practice, your organization can leverage your virtual community to drive engagement, boost retention, and attract new members.
Keep reading for three key tips to improve the member experience with your online community platform.
How to drive member engagement and loyalty through your online community
Follow these steps to help your members get connected on your association’s online community platform:
1. Keep guidelines relevant. To ensure your online community is a safe, inclusive, and engaging place, you’ll want to routinely update your guidelines, making them easily accesible. When your members feel protected in your virtual community, they’ll be more likely to take the time to connect.
Consider the following factors when updating your guidelines:
- Keep your rules concise. Make them orderly and no longer than 500 words.
- Tie your guidelines to your mission. Ensure your rules feel on brand and set the tone for community interactions.
- Offer examples of inappropriate behavior, unacceptable practices, and impermissible content so members clearly understand what isn’t allowed.
- Explain how you’ll enforce the guidelines and the consequences for any violations.
- Ensure your guidelines are easy to find in your online community.
2. Involve staff. Empower your staff as thought leaders in your online community. Each day your employees interact with association members, they’ll gain crucial insight into the member experience. Meet with your employees to learn more about the member experience and determine how it can translate into thought leadership opportunities for your online community.
Consider making your staff thought leaders central to your online community content strategy. Start by selecting a few employees to post thought leadership content in your virtual community. With your staff thought leaders, organize a content calendar to create a steady stream of news, industry information, and commentary to keep members engaged.
3. Elevate membership roles. Boost the reach of your virtual community by empowering staff and members to take on key roles in your community platform. To begin leveling up your online community, consider implementing these crucial roles:
- Moderator: A key individual working to ensure discussions stick to guidelines and who raises awareness if something goes awry. A moderator can also participate in discussions, helping to get the conversations going and keep them flowing.
Consider selecting an employee or committed member volunteer to work as your online community moderator. Depending on the size of your community platform, you may need a few moderators to assist with management.
TECH TIP: Activate Nimble AMS’ online platform, Nimble Communities, to take member engagement at your association to the next level. Provide a safe space for members to network and socialize while driving member retention and loyalty.
- Leadership team: Get your association leaders involved in your online community platform. Members want to connect with leadership and are more likely to invest in your association if your leadership team routinely acknowledges them. Consider selecting someone from your leadership team to join your online community to comment on member posts, engage in conversations, and post thought leadership content.
Try creating a separate channel where members have a direct line to your leadership team and can post questions and thoughtful comments about your association. Have your leadership team member respond to the posts directly. An open line of communication will encourage member engagement and retention. Utilize member town halls to ensure all are aware of this direct line to leadership and provide routine updates on your online community to expand your reach.
- Member ambassadors: Task your member ambassadors with starting conversations and fostering discussion in posts across your community platform. Consider strategizing with your ambassadors, having them each oversee a specific member subgroup or channel.
Try connecting ambassadors with a subgroup they find interesting. Whether you link ambassadors to a subgroup based on their professional background, how long they’ve been at the association, or even a personal hobby, try keeping the connection to the subgroup relevant as it will be helpful as they oversee discussions.
The American Ceramic Society (ACerS) leverages Nimble Communities to boost member engagement and drive retention at their association. The innovative Nimble Communities lets ACerS members to virtually network and socialize, allowing the association to strategically think about membership. Since adopting Nimble Communities, ACerS has established online community volunteer opportunities, allowing members to take on the roles of Super Members or Moderator.
Learn more about leveraging your online community
Get started driving member engagement and retention through your online community platform today! Check out our Nimble Communities Toolkit to take your online community to the next level.