After reading a great post highlighted by Association Marketer (@AssocMarketer…give them a follow, you won’t be sorry) and posted on the Market with MAX blog (@MarketWithMAX) on the importance of keeping up with trends and skills in the association world, I started thinking.
It’s not just the skills of association managers and marketers that need updating. Sometimes it’s how the association works on its own.
To many professionals in the marketing world, this means renovating a website, setting up a new event, starting a new email campaign or creating a new logo. These are all great aspects of association branding, but, that’s not the sort of digital makeover I’m referring to.
To me, an association is about its members…that’s the reason associations are created in the first place. They’re meant to connect individuals with specific interests or professions in a way that allows for deep levels of communication, engagement and learning. Associations are supposed to facilitate these takeaways, allowing for the growth of their members.
But far too often, associations lose their focus and become something else. They become a “duty” or “responsibility” that have certain expectations for members. They do the same thing they’ve always done but expect different results.
Sometimes this is okay. But, (especially for associations that have been around for a long time), the way memberships look has changed. Older members are moving on, making way for younger members, millennials, who have different values and needs. When the association fails to adjust, a lot of damage can be done. In fact, associations crumble when they fail to keep up…it’s a trend we’ve seen come to fruition time and time again.
How can you avoid this trend? What are the signs your association is in need of a digital makeover? Keep reading!
- Membership is Dropping
This is probably obvious, but it’s worth stating anyway. When membership numbers drop, it’s time for a change.
Far too often, associations try to do more of what they’re already doing when this downward trend begins, instead of looking for something NEW.
- New Members are Harder to Come By
This is different than a drop in membership. New members probably mean younger members, those with different interests, who are more technologically adept.
If you’re struggling to find new members, it may be because those potential new members need to find associations that fit their lifestyles and needs. They need technology that keeps up with them, they need an association willing to adapt.
- Event Attendance is Down
Many associations thrive on their conferences. Whether they’re yearly or quarterly, they’re generally large events done the old fashioned way: board meetings, galas and opportunities to learn.
The problem is that today’s professionals don’t have the time to attend events that they don’t place extreme value on. They’re pulled in a hundred directions. Instead of adding another pull, you could simplify the process by hosting online events that fit in with daily routines and schedules.
- Social Media Engagement Has Dropped, or Never Took Off in the First Place
Social media started out as a great thing. For personal networking, it still is. But, for organizations and associations looking to communicate important information with members, it’s generally a failure.
I’ve talked about this a lot, but that’s because it’s an important point to drive home: social media networks are designed to distract. That means that if you have an important message to share, it’s better to do so in a digital community that’s designed exclusively for your associations: a distraction-free zone.
- Driving Action is Like Pulling Teeth
You know what I’m talking about here. Coming from the association world, I experienced it myself. When you have an action that needs to be completed – a vote, meeting attendance or something else – getting responses from key players can be a challenge.
When you simplify the communication process – taking it away from crowded inboxes, phones and dated forms of communication – you’ll see an increase in action.
So…What Does this “Makeover” Look Like Anyway?
Alright, you’ve seen the signs. You’ve probably seen them before they were spelled out here. Now, what? What does this makeover mean?
It’s about getting back to the purpose for your organization, to the reason your association began in the first place, whether that was 5 years ago or 100 years ago. It’s about bringing together the community. Only now, it’s about doing it in a way that makes sense today…not when your association began.
Today, life is about communities; many times, those communities are digital, they’re online instead of in-person. As I mentioned above, people don’t have time to attend a 4 day conference, it just doesn’t work anymore. They don’t have time to scan their inboxes, to read lengthy emails and to sit down to compose responses.
Life happens on the go. Business happens on the go. This means that opportunities to engage must be designed with “on the go” lifestyles in mind.
That’s why we created Social HubSite. We believe that digital communities that are free of traditional distractions bring people together, they’re designed to unite individuals for the greater good. They allow for engagement and sharing that simply can’t be found elsewhere. Instead of adding to the clutter, they are designed to simplify.
The digital makeover I’m referring to here, simply refers to taking associations back to their original design using modern technology. Focusing on the basics – on member communication and engagement, on sharing valuable benefits and allowing members to learn from your association and from each other – could prove to be the most important and valuable step you could take to make your association the most effective that it can be this year.
Are you ready? If so, the time to act is now. Check out the benefits that Social HubSite has to offer and schedule a live demo today.