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6 Online Engagement Hacks for Association Professionals

6 Online Engagement Hacks for Association Professionals

Member engagement is top-of-mind for most association professionals. But when it comes to actually making that happen, well, roadblocks often occur. Sometimes what we THINK will appeal to members and potential members doesn’t, and we’re left scratching our heads.

Engagement is tough - we get it. So to help you out, we’ve put together six online engagement hacks for association professionals:

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Google's "Hummingbird" and Associations

Posted by Sarah Hill

Today's guest blog is written by Christina Green, a consultant and freelance writer specializing in associations. Visit her website here!

For the past couple of years, people have proclaimed “content is king.” For those of us announcing its coronation, September was our “told you so” moment. Google released Hummingbird, its latest algorithm, and it’s a game changer. It’s a new release (not an update like Penguin or Panda) focusing on easier, faster and more targeted search. This is excellent news for associations if you leverage your knowledge to its fullest.

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Keywords are Dead

If you lived by Google Analytics, charting what words drove visitors to your site, you were probably the first to notice Hummingbird. With Hummingbird, Google removes an emphasis on keywords and places it on content. That’s a relief for most associations. After all, we understand the industry we serve -- but the workings of Google? Not so much.
Google wants to be an answer provider not just a search tool.

(Good) Content Triumphs Over Bad

As Google focuses more on providing answers and understanding why people search, “good” content takes center stage. In typical Google fashion, it’s not going to provide a definition of good. Good content is good or valuable in the eyes of your members/audience so keep the following in mind when creating content:

• Create with your members or web visitors in mind. Cover topics of interest to them.

• Ensure it’s in the format they want.

This could mean video, podcasts, blogs, whitepapers, etc. The only way to know what your audience responds to, is to try multiple media forms and track hits, shares and/or downloads.

For instance, if there’s a new law affecting your industry inform your members through a blog post, an article and a video about it. Tally up which format receives the most interest in hits and shares. Try this for several topics and see if you have consistent results in preferred media format. Once you know what your members prefer, do more of that type but continue to offer multiple formats. If you’re worried about the amount of content and juggling multiple formats, repurpose don’t reconstruct. The transcript of your video can be your blog post. Add some quotes from industry experts and you have an article. Read and record your transcript and you have a podcast. Repurpose/recycle as often as you can.

• It’s shareable. 

Many associations guard their content and make it available to members only. While there’s an understandable concern behind providing too much content to the masses, you want to give thought to what is public and what is not. Returning to the idea of multiple formats, if you write a blog about a topic that should be available to anyone. A whitepaper, on the same topic, could be members-only. Don’t lock away content without providing a taste of what they’d receive as a member. Clearly state in your “free” content that members get this and so much more, but fill in the details of the “so much more.”
Having some information public and shareable means your members, and prospective members, can share partial information with non-members. This benefits both you and the person who shared it. Your content is now being viewed by someone who’s not on your roster (but could be in the future) and the sharer has provided information to his/her network from a credible source.

Hummingbird Helps Associations

I’ll leave a lot of the intricacies of Hummingbird to articles like this one, but associations have an amazing amount of knowledge on the groups/industries they serve. Producing quality content is not a challenge, although finding the time might be. Associations are uniquely positioned to create file libraries, interviews, documentation and other essential content. If you’re short on time, don’t create everything from scratch. Repurpose your content in a variety of different mediums. Recycle old content and update it with new information. Look into Google Authorship and ensure that your industry experts are getting credit for their content.

Google has done associations a favor with its Hummingbird release. It’s time we begin making the most of our talents and resources.

Christina R. Green is a consultant and freelance writer specializing in content marketing and storytelling for associations, chambers and small businesses. Connect with her on TwitterLinkedIn, or Facebook.

Topics: association management, Association Views, Small Staff Chatter

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