Ignite That Spark in Your Members: Resources For Using Technology to Engage Association Members
By: John Ricco, CAE
The Pareto Principal. You may not know exactly what it is, but you experience it all the time. Better known as the 80/20 rule, the Pareto Principal suggests that 20 percent of your members probably do 80 percent of the work. So how do you lighten the burden for the overextended 20% and at the same time create meaningful involvement for others? Consider using technology, existing technology in some cases and new technology in others, to engage and entice “the other 80 percent”.
Why focus on engagement? It works. Research shows that increased communication and interaction among peers creates better outcomes. Take this Higher Logic article, for example. The research cited shows that in a fitness setting, interaction and engagement among peers reinforces positive behavior, create accountability and adds a layer of competition (if not guilt) when one is made aware of the activity of others.
Imagine how members volunteering to help with a membership drive might react when they see one of their colleagues single-handedly scoring new members while they have yet to look at the prospect list?
How do you do it? One of the quickest and easiest ways is to better use existing technology. Are you leveraging your current website and social media presence? Wild Apricot has great tips to ensure you have a great base website; identifies add-ons that can take your site from good to great, and provides creative ways to integrate social media – all with an eye on increasing member engagement.
If you’ve maximized those resources and are ready to take the next “technological step,” you may want to create an online community. If you’re contemplating this path, this recent Online Community Results post has good information on common barriers to community engagement and how to fix them. While the article gives you a good idea of some the obstacles faced by administrators of online communities, you’ll need to examine a variety of factors before you create one, such as: do you have buy-in from your members; if so, what do they want/need in a community; do you have the staff capacity to foster and grow the community; etc.
How do you know its working? It’s always useful to have benchmarks of your members’ involvement. Let’s face it; most of us know who the member workhorses are in our organizations. However, that is not always the case and can’t be expected of large associations. Every organization has key indices that can be used to measure success, member involvement, and to guide strategic decisions. This Association Metrics article on keys to successfully measuring membership engagement is a good primer on the use member engagement metrics. In addition, I recommend Aptify’s series of video shorts on how to easily use Composite Engagement Scores (CES) to measure your members’ involvement.
I hope these resources aid you in your quest to use technology and data (much of which you already have on hand) to create the spark that will ignite your membership!