Well, there are several reasons, but perhaps one of the biggest (right now, at least) is this: A few weeks ago, Associations Now published an article about 2019 technology trends that associations should watch. And do you know what trend #2 was? 2019 is going to be a good year for private communities.
According to the article, a lot of people are getting a bit tired of some of those big social media networks. How many times have you heard people say they wish they could just get rid of their Facebook page? Well, regardless of whether or not they actually do, having an online social community could give them an alternative place to go, to connect and engage with others.
Now you may be thinking, “But we’ve tried having an online social community, and our members just didn’t use it.” Well let us just start by saying, you are certainly not alone. Many organizations have experienced the same thing. But the good news is there are several things you can do to change your members’ behavior and get your online social community up and running.
If having an online social community is something you think you’d like to try out in 2019, either for the first time or again, read on for a few tips to bring it to life:
Post seed questions
You can’t expect your members to take initiative on this one. This is something you have to drive. To get the conversation started, once a week or once every few days, post a seed question in there. For example, “Who else has registered for the Annual Conference in April? What sessions are you most looking forward to?” Or, “Does anyone have experience with XYZ? Would love to hear your thoughts!”
Once enough activity has taken place, your members will likely initiate conversations on their own.
Offer exclusive content
To get members to login and use your online social community, you have to give them a reason to do so, and offering exclusive content that they can’t get elsewhere is a great way to do that. We’re talking about new industry reports or “sneak peaks,” such as what t-shirts or bags you’ll be giving out at your annual conference. You can then tease those “sneak peaks” on social media and/or in your newsletter to drive people to login.
Position your social community as a member benefit
Your online social community is - or at least, should be - another benefit for your members. It’s a way for your members to receive content and network with other industry professionals. Make that point very clear to your members, particularly when they first join. Make introducing your online social community part of the new member onboarding process. If members can get in the habit of logging in and engaging early on, they’re much more likely to stick with it throughout their membership.