Driving better engagement keeps your members invested in their membership—it’s a major factor when it’s time to renew. Learn how to leverage your community features to make engaging members easier.
Yes, there are passive users of association resources, but the value increases when members lean in and get all they can out of the community you’ve built for them.
- Discussions become livelier and more well-rounded.
- More questions are answered.
- More mentor/mentorship opportunities develop.
- More insights are added to the knowledge base.
Engagement Benchmarks and the Danger of Disengagement
According to Higher Logic’s Association Member Experience Report, about 60% of members say they are engaged with their associations.
Of course, each respondent’s definition of engaged is probably a little different. Some may feel engaged from occasionally reading your newsletter or logging into your online community once a month and reading a few message threads. Others may frequently and actively participate in member activities and discussions. Either way, 40% of association members are feeling disconnected from the communities they have joined. And being disengaged is the top reason, after lack of value, members cite for leaving their association(s).
So how can you prevent this and encourage members to actively participate?
Community as the Prime Location for Engagement
Your online community is a key benefit for members – most association members want to connect with each other and with thought leaders in the field. One-way communication from the association to members has its place, but the true day-to-day value of a membership is being able to:
- Interact with other members
- Discuss challenges and learn from others who’ve dealt with similar issues
- Get career tips and find out about job opportunities
- Stay on top of trends in the industry
- Discover valuable resources
How Associations Benefit from Community Engagement
For the association, these communities are also a valuable resource for learning what matters most to members – seeing what topics are important to them, identifying content and resource gaps, and tapping into the membership for advocacy.
No other aspect of your association holds as much potential for delivering member value that grows exponentially with engagement rates. And having the right technology-driven features and strategies can help even the smallest team scale their efforts to motivate measurable increases in participation.
Here are a few tips for using features in the Higher Logic Thrive Platform to easily engage members in your online community.
Let’s say your community has 500 members and you’re a community management staff of one. How can you possibly know each member well enough to personalize their experience and highlight the resources they’re most interested in? This is the perfect opportunity to leverage automation rules.
Platforms like Higher Logic Thrive can track member behavior and create profile data for each member. Building on this data, community managers can set up logic-based rules to trigger actions based on what each member does. For example, you can set up a rule where, if a member hasn’t engaged within a certain amount of time, a notification goes out to encourage them to post. You can also automatically trigger leadership badges for participation.
This kind of automation helps you make members feel known, seen, and special, and the fact that it’s automated frees your time for other community tasks. Look for a community platform with smart, built-in automation rules as well as the flexibility to automate tasks well beyond that.
If you have a smartphone, you know how widgets can be used to pull information from all over your phone and apps, and compile them for quick, easy viewing on your home or lock screen.
Widgets in a community work the same way and are a great way to keep the items that are most likely to stoke engagement front and center. New content is automatically displayed as it gets posted so your members won’t miss a thing.
Higher Logic Thrive’s customizable widgets have configurable parameters that can be adjusted to show user the content that’s most relevant to and appropriate for them. This elevates the personalization experience for members, who feel like their time in the community is being respected and maximized. The more efficiently they can discover the content that resonates, the more time and inclination they have to add their thoughts.
Many associations also strategically use widgets to allow sneak peeks into community content for non-members, giving them a taste of what they’re missing.
Let’s be realistic: not every member is going to log into your association community every day. So how do you make sure they never miss the best of what’s happening there? Offer them an email digest of community activity.
This allows members to stay up-to-date on their desired delivery frequency. Higher Logic Thrive provides built-in digest functionality that allows your members to opt into the notification subscriptions they’d like to receive. They can choose to be updated about new announcements, blog posts, discussion posts, library uploads, volunteer opportunities, etc.
Not only do these notifications lead to more visibility into ongoing discussions – which often inspires members to contribute – members can also reply directly back to the discussion through the digest email.
Higher Logic Thrive also includes a new tool called Smart Newsletter, that uses machine learning to automatically build customized newsletters per recipient with increasingly tailored content. It cultivates a profile of each recipient’s interests based on what each user clicks in each newsletter.
You simply configure the layout, decide what types of content you want it to include, specify the target audience, and decide the send schedule. Smart Newsletter then mines and populates content (discussions, blogs, etc.) from your entire site (and even the web), taking into account recipient permissions. It learns more about each recipient’s interests every time they click a link in it and gets “smarter” over time and with regular use/engagement.
When members join your community, they typically share valuable information about what they’re interested in. That’s the foundation for connecting members based on shared interests.
A strong community platform will allow members to search for others in the community with similar interests, add them as contacts, and directly message them. The more often this happens, the higher the levels of engagement between members. And members appreciate the ability to connect with each other beyond in-person events.
Mentorship opportunities are also a strong value proposition offered by association communities. When members connect in a mentor/mentee relationship, their levels of participation tend to increase, both inside of and beyond that relationship. Having a platform like Higher Logic Thrive makes fostering mentoring relationships a lot easier than managing those efforts manually. You can more easily launch and monitor a mentoring program, matching and motivating mentors and mentees with tools like Mentor Match and built-in mentor/mentee automation rules.
Who doesn’t like to be recognized and feel a sense of achievement?
Using your member experience technology to monitor member activity allows you to spot, highlight, and reward members for their contribution to the community. This is a strong signal to members that their engagement is being noticed and that it’s appreciated.
Gamification is a highly effective automated feature that calls out individual achievement and still feels personal.
Start Building a More Enticing, Feature-rich Community
If you want a more active and vibrant community in which members are contributing, connecting, and engaging with each other, manual monitoring won’t get you there. But implementing a feature-rich community technology platform such as Higher Logic Thrive can fire up the kind of member engagement your association needs.
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