Here are all the ways member-generated content benefits associations, members, and industries
On August 8th at 9 am at the ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition in Atlanta, I’ll have the wonderful opportunity to lead a session on what member-generated content is, why it’s important, and the many ways associations can leverage it. I’m also happy to share here first that Diana Mertz, CAE, CSP, Senior Director, Membership and Engagement, and Kelly G. Verberg, Senior Vice President and Chief Membership Officer from the American Staffing Association will be joining me to share a monumental campaign they put together formed from and around member-generated content.
We’ll go into far greater detail during the session, but member-generated content is so important I wanted to share some tips here (which we also explored in a recent episode of Higher Logic’s Member Engagement Show podcast).
What Is Member-Generated Content?
Member-generated content can be anything your members create and share (or that you have the opportunity to share) with your audience. It’s similar to what is referred to as user-generated content in the commercial space.
Whereas a business or organization like a brand or retail store might have influencers creating content, publishing, and interacting in the digital space, associations have their members. These are the people who intimately know the industry and what people in that industry are interested in. They’re well connected in that industry through association memberships and communities.
As with any other content creator, association member-generated content can take a variety of forms – for example, articles, social posts, infographics, blog posts, videos, podcasts, webinars, or educational sessions at conferences.
Why Is Member-Generated Content Important to Associations, Contributors, and Readers
A Lighter Load
Member-generated content is enormously useful to associations. The obvious benefit is time savings. When your staff doesn’t have to generate all the content you share with members to provide value, it lightens the load and makes it much more achievable for even a small staff to generate ongoing content of value. Incorporating member-generated content into your strategy increases content creation efficiency and productivity, usually at no additional cost.
Meanwhile, the content generated by your members tends to be highly relevant. They’re immersed in the industry you’re serving and immensely qualified to discuss the subjects that matter to that industry and other members. They have a strong sense of what other members like them want to see, hear, and read about. They have the kind of insights and expertise other members are eager to learn from.
A North Star for Associations
Given their position within both the industry and the association, members can provide the association with a sort of guiding “North Star.” They can demonstrate what members value and what they want to talk about at any given time. Seeing what knowledge they contribute to your member-generated content efforts may inspire you to create additional products or resources.
Raising Members’ Visibility
Member-generated content also benefits members – both those making and those consuming the content. Members usually join an association (at least in part) because they care about their field. Contributing content to your association allows them to give back to their peers and stand out in their field. So not only is it fulfilling, but it can also raise their visibility (kind of like how I’m presenting at ASAE’s Annual Conference). And for those consuming the content, they’re getting an authentic viewpoint from a peer working in their same industry.
Lastly, member-generated content can be used by associations to help drive non-dues revenue. If a series of member blog posts rave about how beneficial attending an annual conference was, that could drive registrations for next year’s event. Compared to reading promotional materials from the event’s marketing team, potential attendees get social proof from fellow members that yes, the conference is worth attending. And that strategy is not exclusive to events! Member-generated content can, through its sincerity and authenticity, motivate signups for other programs or certifications the association offers.
You might also choose to gate certain member-generated content to just members. For example, maybe you invite members to share templates and tools in a resource library within your member community, behind a member login. Then other industry professionals may be more motivated to join your association to access these valuable resources from their peers.
How Do You Get Members to Contribute Content?
As mentioned above, contributing content to an industry association of which you’re a member can raise your visibility and establish you as a leader in the space. At the same time, it’s an opportunity to contribute to the betterment of your industry. These are worthwhile personal and professional benefits members may need to be reminded of when being asked to contribute content!
Appealing to a Range of Member Contributors
An association and its members benefit from content shared by new members and early-career professionals just as it benefits from those who have been in the field for decades. Those early in their careers may not feel they have the experience that qualifies them to contribute content, but their perspectives are important to collect. Newer, younger members might have innovative ideas for the industry that could help rejuvenate programs or inspire new approaches. It’s important to tell your members that their participation is welcome, at any level, and that their perspectives can help associations expand their resources and appeal to all kinds of other members (including new members).
You could also explore offering incentives to contribute content. Maybe that’s a free conference registration for those willing to blog or live post about conference sessions. This gives members the chance to not only get free admission but also have their name seen by attendees and other members following along with conference takeaways from afar.
Multiple Content Channels
You’ll find a lot of member-generated content in association magazines, trade publications, or newsletters. You can solicit members to submit articles to these channels or even require that those participating in training or certification programs submit a scholarly article for those channels.
Spotting Interesting Viewpoints
You can also monitor your community as a potential source of member-generated content. If a member is writing compellingly about a certain topic, you could consider reaching out and asking them to expound on that topic in an article, webinar, or live session at your conference. Or you might invite them to a lower-pressure opportunity, like submitting a tool or template to your resource library. For them, this validates their qualifications to share their experience where they might not have otherwise taken an opportunity to submit a proposal or guest blog.
Content Sources Beyond Members
Lastly, don’t forget about your sponsors, exhibitors, and industry partners as “member” generated content. They likely have a lot of content already written and ready to share, and doing so helps them prove value and expertise to the people they want to invite to check out their products.
The Broad Strokes of a Member-Generated Content Program
1) Have a baseline understanding of what member-generated content is. Explore what content you already have access to and brainstorm how you can repurpose or use it.
2) Explore ways to get members involved in submitting more of that content, including making it easy. Communicate how contributing content helps them demonstrate their expertise and can help grow their careers.
3) Think about how you’re disseminating member-generated content. Is there some content that’s openly available while other content is behind a member login or some form of paywall? Vitally, promote your member-generated content to both celebrate the members who contribute and spread the word about the value of the content itself.
See You in Atlanta!
I truly hope you’ll be able to come to ASAE Annual in Atlanta and attend this session on member-generated content. My fellow presenters and I will explore:
- How to easily identify member-generated content.
- How it can help you approach a topic, promote a specialty, or fill a market need.
- How to recognize the many applications of member-generated content and understand what kind of content maps to your current goals.
- Tried and true examples, provided by the American Staffing Association, of how you can turn the member content you already have into revenue opportunities.
I’ll see you there! And don’t forget to stop by and say hello to Higher Logic at booth 341 during exhibit hall hours.
Product Marketing Manager
Sarah Spinosa is the product marketing manager for the association line of business at Higher Logic. Sarah is a veteran of the association industry, with over 15 years of marketing experience. She had been using Higher Logic products for nearly a decade prior to joining the Orange Army in February 2022. She has also worked with SaaS organizations. Sarah served on the 2023 ASAE MMCC Program Advisory Council and as an ASAE Gold Circle Award judge.
Sarah holds a BA in Political Science from East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband, two daughters, and two rescue dogs in northern Virginia.
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