Online communities 101: The benefits of leveraging an online community platform

According to the latest Community Brands research, 52% of association professionals use an online member community but only 14% rate their use of the platform as excellent.

Why should your member-based organization leverage an online community to engage your members? An online community improves member loyalty and drives engagement.

Read our blog to learn more about online communities and discover how your association can use one to boost member connections and loyalty.

What is an online community?

An online community is a group of people with a shared interest or purpose who choose to connect and communicate virtually. Some examples of online communities include a LinkedIn or Facebook group where industry professionals connect. You can also find online communities on Twitter (X), Instagram, TikTok, and Reddit.

Online communities have a set of guidelines and rules to make participants feel safe and more willing to contribute. Online community guidelines should be tied to an organization’s mission, easily accessible, and set the tone for all online interactions.

Associations can utilize online community platforms to create a virtual environment for members to connect. Leveraging a branded online community helps your members find and network with like-minded individuals at their association.

How online community platforms differ from other virtual networking communities

A major difference between virtual networking communities like LinkedIn or Facebook and an online community platform is why they’re used. An individual might choose to spend time on a social network; however, members of online communities choose to invest time in the platform to boost strategic connections, professional development opportunities, industry information, and more.

Additionally, members of private online communities will choose to join a virtual network because they identify with an association’s mission and want to engage with an organization’s content for professional or personal growth.

Here are three more ways an online community differs from virtual networking communities:

1. Security

By using a private online community, you’ll have increased security for your member data. Online community platforms prioritize privacy and will ensure your members are protected.

2. Data

If you leverage an online community platform, you will gain valuable member insights. The data you’ll receive when using an online community will better help you understand your members and create a personalized experience.

3. Management

If you choose an online community platform designed to drive member engagement, you’ll be equipped with tools to create an engaging member experience.

5 benefits of leveraging an online community for association members

Did you know that 47% of members have used their organization’s online member community? Community Brands research found members who have used an online community report higher loyalty metrics. Members also report a strong sense of community (52%) versus those who don’t (20%).

Here are five additional benefits of leveraging an online community at your association:

1. Shape individual member journeys

With the right online community platform, you can offer personalized content feeds based on a member’s interests and activities, helping to drive engagement.

2. Promote valuable connections

An online community makes it easy for your members to network, prompting connections based on common attributes.

3. Drive stronger connections

Increase member loyalty with your online community by bringing your super members into daily contact with your value-seeking members.

4. Boost engagement

Want to increase member engagement? Look for an online community that lets you recognize your most active members with profile badges and missions.

5. Cater to member interest

Leverage your online community to track engagement for your committees, events, and volunteer opportunities ensuring you personalize the member experience while gaining valuable insights.

Why your association should choose a built-in online community

Now that you understand the many benefits of adopting an online community at your association, you’ll want to choose the best online community platform for your staff and members. Choosing an online community that’s built into your association management software (AMS) grants many advantages as you seek to boost member engagement.

Here are the top three benefits of leveraging a built-in online community at your association:

1. Automation

With an online community that’s built into your AMS, you can streamline community processes like automatically sorting members into the right groups.

2. Pre-built templates

Quickly add value to your online community with pre-built association focused templates you can utilize with point-and-click actions.

3. Member personalization

With an online community built into your AMS, you can leverage member-generated touchpoints to highlight your association’s value, engage more members, and streamline your efforts.’

Discover the Nimble AMS advantage!

When you connect association members to Nimble Communities, you’ll drive engagement and loyalty throughout the entire member journey.

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