Associations may target or cater to specific groups - for example, public educators - but within those groups, there are several sub-groups (e.g. science teachers, high school teachers, special education teachers, etc.) that could all use a little attention.
In fact, you might have more diversity in your association than you think, and better yet, than others think, which can be an added benefit to your association.
So how do you embrace that diversity, and more importantly, celebrate it? We’ve got a few ideas:
1. Create special interest groups
First and foremost, because you have a diverse group of members (as similar as they might seem), it’s best to create a few special interest groups for those varying backgrounds/focal points. You may have noticed your members forming little sub-groups on their own (science teachers gravitating towards science teachers), but make it easy on them by creating those groups (and thus, facilitating those interactions) for them.
Now what does “creating special interest groups” look like at your association? Well, it could be as simple as creating a variety of channels in your organization’s online social community. Giving your members a platform to speak out and engage is the first step in growing those groups and expanding your membership. (More about this later.)
Tip: There may be sub-groups within your organization that you didn’t even know existed. To make sure you’re covering all your bases, reach out to your members and ask them what special interest groups they’d like to see. If you send out member satisfaction surveys, this would be a great question to include.
2. Create content/plan events for those special interest groups
Once you have special interest groups in action, it’s then important to create content and plan events for those groups. I know this sounds like extra work, but it’s valuable, and a good way to engage and retain your members.
When it comes to planning events for your association’s special interest groups, consider the following:
- Happy hours
- Speed networking
- Webinars/panel discussions
These are small events than can pack a BIG punch in terms of value (without detracting too much from your association’s primary events).
Now let’s talk content. What type of content should you provide your special interest groups with? Well blog posts are a great place to start. They’re fairly short and allow you to hone in on topics that might be of interest to those groups. Plus, when you’re done, you can then drop those posts in that group’s online social community channel. (Helloooo member engagement!)
3. Provide outlets and opportunities for those groups to speak
If you have special interest groups within your organization, you want those groups to feel comfortable, and better yet, empowered. We talked about creating online social communities for those groups - and that’s crucial. But in addition, you may want to provide them with other outlets/platforms. Allow and encourage them to guest blog, where others can then read and comment on those posts. Or, allow and encourage them to make announcements at your organization's next meeting or event. The more you encourage this type of behavior - and diversity as a whole - the better off your association will be.
4. Market your diversity
Last but not least, if you have diversity in your association, you absolutely want to celebrate it. Let people know how many special interest groups you have, and more importantly, what those special interest groups are. Put them on your website, on your social media sites, etc. This can make your association more marketable and help attract people who may have initially brushed your organization off.
Remember, diversity is good because it adds value to your organization. The more diversity your association has, the more opportunities you’ll be able to provide your members with, and ultimately, the more appealing your association will become.
Want more tips for marketing your association and attracting potential members? Check out our free guide, Best Practices for Online Member Acquisition, below!