For those associations looking to offer their members a space to connect and share information with others, an online member community is the option for you.
It’s no secret that hosting a private space for your members to unwind and connect with others is a great move for any organization. In fact, Associations Now recently released an article about budding new tech trends, with private communities making the list. And with the exclusivity and private reassurance of having a community strictly for members, there’s no reason why.
But if your association hasn’t reassessed your community in a while, it might be time to hone in on your online member engagement strategy. While they are low maintenance and pretty self sustainable, there are things that can become stale or deter members from logging on and engaging altogether.
Regardless of your association’s engagement strategy, it’s always a great idea to reevaluate any tool or technique that you use after some time, including online member communities. So, let’s take a look at 4 tips to fine-tune your association’s online member community. With our tips, you’ll be sure that your online community stays up with trends and keeps attracting members day in and day out.
1. Incorporate content
While giving your members a space to chat and mingle with your association’s staff and other members is a great start, if you aren’t supplying your online community with content, you could be making a big mistake.
When members join your online community, you want them to have a place to start with their interactions. With no content to interact with, new members may have a tough time finding their footing when jumping into your online forum.
Building up a great online community starts by dropping in valuable content for your members into your member site. By including webinars, videos, blog articles, photos, and anything else your association sees fit, you’ll be giving your community members valuable pieces of information to enjoy and interact with.
You can even create discussion chats based off of your content, giving new members and those interested a place to jump in and discuss what they just consumed. Online community content is great for members looking for their first taste of online interaction.
2. Link your external media
If you want members to keep the engagement going outside of your online community, you’ll want to provide helpful links to let them do just that.
While your online community is a great way to get your members on the same page, it just doesn’t have the same amount of power that social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn do. So, instead of cutting your members off from those valuable engagement spots, consider linking them within your online community and encourage members to continue the conversations on your social media platforms.
Let’s be honest, not every member is going to want to be apart of your online community. And by ignoring your other engagement-based platforms, you’re cutting off a group of individuals from interacting with your association- as well as limiting your abundance of engagement opportunities.
Be sure to promote and share snippets of content from your social media profiles to keep things moving outside of your online member community.
3. Get your team in on management
While online member communities can pretty much run themselves once set up, it isn’t a bad idea to incorporate your team on organizing and designing a top of the line forum for members.
Selecting a top team of online community managers from your association’s team can be a tricky task, but you want to make sure you choose the right people. Team members who can design exclusive graphics, create valuable content, manage IT, and coordinate member communication should always be vetted to join in on your online community.
Having a dream team of association team members to help your online forum run smoothly can show members you’re putting your all into this engagement platform. It also allows you to eliminate a lot of the stress and problems that come along with managing an online forum.
With a great team, member complaints and concerns can be addressed and taken care of in no time.
4. Amp up your community software
Is the current software/host you use for your online member community not cutting it? You may want to consider an alternative software.
With open-source community software on the rise, there are a variety of brand new options on the market- and ones your association may want to look into. With sources like Discourse, Vanilla Forums, and NodeBB out there ready for the taking, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be looking into a software upgrade solution.
Consider researching your options and see if the software you currently use is up to par with your online community standards. Be sure you’re able to use all features available to you, and be sure your software has any new features that have been introduced to the online community world since you first invested in it.
Managing an online member community can be an easy way to boost engagement if you stay on top of things and keep your community as innovative as possible. Consider using our tips to turn the volume up on your online member engagement.