Are you tired of hearing how critical improving member engagement is?
Of course, it’s important but it can also seem like a resource drain trying to come up with new ways to get people to interact with you. Trying to work on member engagement can feel like being that lone kid in the first-grade sandbox, hoping someone will come over and play.
But it doesn’t have to be.
There are a lot of tried and true ways for improving member engagement and perfecting your member engagement strategy.
Improving Member Engagement with the Pareto Principle
First, before you get discouraged about your member interaction on social media or your blog, let’s talk about the Pareto Principle. It’s the idea you probably learned in business or management class that states 80% of the activity comes from 20% of a particular group. You often hear it in terms of healthcare: 80% of healthcare expenses come from 20% of the population. Or maybe you’ve heard it as applied to economics: 80% of the wealth is controlled by 20% of the population.
However, when it comes to member engagement, most member community gurus agree that it’s more like 90/10: 90% of the interaction comes from 10% of your members. Some have even applied it to content specifically saying that when it comes to internet users 90% consume, 9% comment, and only 1% creates content.
That can feel pretty lopsided but it’s not a bad thing.
What you’re seeing is just the tip of the iceberg.
When it comes to your chamber content and social media, engagement helps your searches because Google looks for that sort of thing. But from a renewal perspective, if someone is turning to your blog every day for good content and it’s part of their daily internet habit, and they find that content invaluable, does it matter if they ever leave you a thumb’s up in the comments section?
So from a renewal perspective is member engagement really that important?
Only because it’s a visible indication that your members are enjoying what you’re doing. It also can provide the action behind your advocacy and creates a much more energetic and supportive community.
To put it another way, it’s outward proof of love. Can you know that someone loves you without words? Of course, it’s possible. But an engaged group is like that significant other who tells you how much you mean to them in front of others, which also increases the positive feelings those people have for you as well.
Keep reading for strategies on improving member engagement. Once you see it paying off, you’ll want to do more of it. But we also covered the Pareto Principle so you don’t get discouraged in the process.
Remember, someone is out there reading and watching your content.
Now, let’s see if we can make them come forward so you can get to know them better.
If you’re ready to grab a whole list of member engagement ideas, click here.
Otherwise, let’s talk about the elements of a winning member engagement strategy.
7 Elements of a Winning Member Engagement Strategy
We’ve shared a lot of strategy lists and articles about chamber data and they all begin with this one: goals. What is the goal of improving member engagement? Why are you doing it? Does your board believe you don’t have enough followers? Do you want the younger community to see how fun you are?
Start with an overarching desire for your member engagement and flesh out and solidify goals and how you’ll measure them.
For instance: let’s say you want to attract a younger demographic. You decide the right way to do that is to get more involved on Instagram. Your goal may be to see three new people at your next event who came because of your interaction on Insta. The way you’ll measure that is by offering a special sign-up code just on Instagram and seeing who uses it.
If you want to engage someone, you find out more about their interests. This is the same in real life or online. Take the time to understand what your audience wants. Share different types of posts and note what they respond to. Note the hours that you post and when you get the most engagement. Some chambers have found a lot of success posting on non-business hours like Sunday nights and early weekday mornings. Try it out and see when your audience is most intent on engaging.
Entertain. Inspire. Educate.
Top posts (meaning most popular and those most likely to receive comments) generally contain one of these aspects: they entertain, inspire, or educate their intended audience. When you do one of these things (or all, if you’re really good), your posts fill a need for your audience, are seen as valuable, and are shared.
Your content has to do something for your audience. If it doesn’t, it will just be more noise. When someone engages with you/your content, you know you’ve reached them and something resonated with them. It struck them in some way.
To put this in real-life terms, they spent time with you and it was worth it. They’ll (now) want to do it again. When someone engages with something you posted, they found value in it. They are now becoming conditioned to seek you out again when they need something similar. As you start improving member engagement, those types of established patterns of behavior can become member loyalty down the road.
It’s also important to share popular types of posts on the correct platform. This may not be popular with Zuckerberg but I’m a platform purist. People go to Facebook to be entertained, inspired, and educated in a very light-hearted way. Someone sharing their dissertation on Facebook isn’t going to get a lot of shares and hits unless it’s in a private group of like-minded people. Sharing it to their personal Facebook page isn’t the right environment for that. However, LinkedIn might be, especially if they’re followed by a lot of subject matter experts in their area of interest.
Understand what your audiences are looking for on each platform. Insta viewers love images/video and stories. Snapchatters just want to have fun. Twitter is a good place for conversation. These are just examples. Your audience on each of these sites could be different. Check what each person responds to and do more of that.
I’ve spent most of our time today referring to social media as the form of engagement. It’s certainly the quickest. Sit down and engage in a matter of seconds. But let’s not overlook other ways of engaging chamber members:
- lunch and learns
- cash mobs
- advocacy efforts
- volunteer activities
- dropping by with goodies
- phone calls
- asking questions in the community
- planning for the future workforce
- webinars or live streams
- networking events
Engagement isn’t an emoticon. If you’re trying to solidify a member engagement strategy, make sure you don’t forget in-person activities as well.
As we mentioned earlier, set goals and how you’ll track them. But tracking doesn’t have to be big event ticket sales. You can (and should) show smaller increments of movement. For instance, if you wanted to host a lunch and learn to get more members engaged, here’s some tracking you might put into place:
- Crowd-source what your audience wants to learn (measure how many votes you received and on what).
- Send out a call for an expert on the matter. Ask people to refer someone with valuable knowledge in the area. (Count your nominations.)
- Announce the event and ask people to RSVP. (Measure email openings, click-throughs, and RSVPs.)
- Host the event. (Measure attendance, number of questions asked, social media interaction/shares, hashtag use, etc.)
- Post pictures to social media and invite people to tag themselves. (Track likes, comments, tags, shares, video views, etc.)
Why does engagement matter? Because you want your member to stay a member and you want a prospect to become a member. So while getting them to engage with you is a good start toward building loyalty and interest, it can’t end there.
As I mentioned earlier, online engagement is like someone spending time with you, enjoying it, and establishing a pattern of spending more time together. However, if you stop at the “had an enjoyable time” part, the relationship will never escalate into a long-term thing.
You need to keep your eyes on your goal here and chart ways to advance your engaged members or community members toward the desired action. This may involve inviting them to come to an event, join your mentor program, or volunteer in an area where they showed interest. Find a way to move them into the next step.
This step will be different for everyone, but in all instances it is necessary. Very few will do it completely on their own. It will go quicker, if you ensure they feel welcome and that you’re interested in them.
We all have limited time in our days so engagement without business tie-in is probably not worth it. You need to create a member engagement strategy so you can remain on track to achieving your engagement goals.
Now that you know how to build a successful strategy, we can move onto the piece you’ve all been waiting for… actionable ways to engage your members and potential members.
This list contains 40 easy ways to start conversations, share interests, and begin to be a bigger part of each other’s lives. Take a look for yourself and let us know what you think.