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Are Your Vendors Engaged? Would You Like Them to Be?

Are Your Vendors Engaged? Would You Like Them to Be?

Rumor has it, in some association circles, trade show attendance is struggling. This could spell trouble for how vendor members find value in belonging to your organization. While some industries may be feeling the pain more than others, it is never a bad time to think about the ways you are engaging your vendor/supplier members. Read on for a handful of ideas on engaging your vendor-side members in effective and successful ways.

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The Rise of the Invisible, Yet Engaged, Member

Posted by Christina R. Green


Engage your members. They’ll renew.

That’s what associations hear from membership gurus, social media experts, and the like. And they’re right, but what used to be considered prime engagement, that outright display of love through social media shares and praise, is no longer the (only) gold standard of engagement.

Lurkers and Non-attending Members

Answer the following question...

Our most engaged member is:

  1. someone who attends every event
  2. someone who volunteers for everything
  3. someone who reads every article/blog post
  4. someone who shares our content on social media frequently
  5. all of the above
  6. none of the above
  7. one of the above

See the dilemma? Which one of those members are most likely to renew? How do you know?

If you haven’t combed the data with the diligence of a professional needle finder, you may be inclined to say the members you see most often are your most engaged.

But that is not necessarily true. An engaged member finds some interaction with you invaluable. It might be your events, or your discussion on your private online community, but it could just as easily be your content.

With responsibilities pressing down on everyone, people simply don’t have the time, nor the inclination, to always provide outright displays of engagement. A member could find your offerings extremely valuable without ever contacting you, or engaging with you, outside of paying his/her dues.

However, it’s important to point out that this sort of invisible engagement is predicated on your association’s content. If there’s nothing for them to consume, don’t try telling your board about the rise of invisible members. They’ll think you’ve been watching too much sci-fi.

If They're Not Sharing My Content, They're Dead to Me

A lot of experts will have you believe that engaged members share. Sharers share, but people can still find value and not sharing. For instance, I read Associations Now every day. Sometimes I share, sometimes I remunate. But it’s part of my daily routine.

Becoming part of your members’ daily routines is a pretty good (and challenging) goal.

Some associations may think, if they’re not sharing my content what do I care? They may not be doing something for you, in that case, but you’re doing something for them -- providing something your members find value in. If they find value in it, they will eventually do something for you -- they’ll renew.

So don’t be discouraged if you don’t see obvious proof of their engagement. Your way of showing love, and their way, may not look the same but it doesn’t render it any less true or valid. 

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Topics: association management, member engagement, member retention, Association Views

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