McLuhan could envision that more than 40 years
ago — so why do many associations still struggle to put together the big picture of all that
“e-ssociating” can accomplish? In our experience as a marketing agency specializing in associations, it’s
not lack of vision — more likely, it’s lack of time or staff, or
simply that glazing over, which happens to people in all sectors
when attempting to keep up with the frighteningly rapid pace
of technological change.
Three Powerful Benefits of E-ssociating
There are three critical and very traditional reasons why every
association needs to develop its own style of electronic life:
recruitment, retention and, perhaps most importantly, revitalization of its membership and mission. To help you start putting
together your big picture, this article will introduce three common, but not commonly understood, elements of social media:
blogs, wikis and e-mail marketing.
Blogs: Give Your Membership a Voice
(and Listen Closely)
Blogs are fundamentally content management systems that
make it easy to post articles and then receive feedback. Blogs
have been around for only a few years, and seem to be gaining
increasing popularity among associations as they empower you
to post articles and then immediately receive measurable input
from members. This gives your membership a voice and a platform which, if used correctly, can serve to improve retention,
strengthening community and loyalty.
It all centers on creating value. By better knowing your members you can better tailor content around topics that interest them.
Luckily, if you are unsure what topics your members value the
most, the tools included with a blog can help you measure that,
too. An analytics plug-in can show you which pages and articles
are the most visited, and the number of comments per article can
provide valuable direction. The knowledge gained through these
measured results can then be applied throughout your entire
organization, helping guide and structure other marketing efforts.
Wikis: The Collaboration Nation
Suppose you’re thinking about posting articles and resources,
and you would like your members to have the ability to contribute and edit content. This is where wikis come in. Wikis are
a system made famous by Wikipedia.org, easily allowing collaboration among many users online.
In the association world, a wiki can serve a number of uses.
Imagine your organization is planning its annual conference.
You place information regarding possible topics for break-out
discussions within your wiki. Some of your members then
update the information to include alternate topics, key speakers
or other valuable insights. This document can continually evolve
and serve as a reason to revisit your site for updates. Other uses
may include creating a knowledge bank of articles that serve
as a resource for newer members, or perhaps summarizing presentations from previous conventions and seminars. By offering
these items to your members, you are able to take information
that they may have otherwise missed or forgotten and leverage
it as a key benefit.