Many association professionals run into the same problem: They have an online social community, but it’s a borderline ghost town. No one’s actually using it!
Should you even have an online social community? We think so! Here’s why. But once you do, how do you get people to actually use it? Here are a few tips:
1. Select engagement ambassadors
In order to get your online social community up and running, consider selecting a few people from within your organization to act as engagement ambassadors. These individuals should post a couple of times per month within your online social community and seed various questions to get your members talking.
What exactly should your engagement ambassadors post/share? Here are a few ideas:
- “Who else is registered for the Annual Meeting in April?! What sessions are you most looking forward to?”
- “Came across this interesting article in [Name of publication]. Just wanted to share!”
- “Anyone have experience with XYZ? Would love to hear your thoughts!”
These types of questions elicit responses and discussion - and that’s exactly what you want out of not only your engagement ambassadors, but online social community, as a whole.
2. Offer exclusive content
One of the best ways to attract people to your organization’s online social community is by offering up content that can’t be accessed anywhere else. This could be in-depth eBooks, new industry reports, recorded webinars, etc.
Another idea for exclusive content: sneak peaks. If you have an event coming up, consider posting teasers in your online social community, so only members who access that community will get those key insights. (Incentive for logging in!) Sneak peaks could involve your keynote speaker(s), the type of swag you’ll be giving out, a special giveaway, etc. And if you “tease” these sneak peaks in other places (on your organization’s Facebook page, in your newsletter, etc.), people will be more inclined to login to your online social community to actually get that inside scoop.
3. Position your social community as part of the member experience
This is an important step that many associations often overlook. Your online social community should be an extension of your organization’s overall value proposition. When a new member joins your organization, make it a point to introduce your online social community as part of the the new member onboarding process - and be sure to highlight the benefits of using it (access to exclusive content, the ability to network with other industry professionals, etc.). The more emphasis you place on your online social community up front (when a member first joins), the more likely your members will be to actually login and embrace it.
4. Reward members for contributions
Getting your members to talk to each other is a real win, so when one of your members contributes to your organization’s online social community, especially for the first time, it’s important to reward them. Now this could be as simple as saying, “Hey [Member name], thanks for contributing!” or it may mean sending them something a little special - a t-shirt or a discount code for your next webinar. Either way, rewarding that type of behavior is important for continued engagement and success.
Want more tips for utilizing (and boosting engagement via) your organization’s online social community? Check out our free guide to online social communities below!