Recently, on Associations Connect, I published a new template that associations can use to monetize their online community. Today I’m going to share that with you. First, I want to touch on a few things to get you thinking about the real opportunity that exists to use your online community as a monetization vehicle for your association.
Unique Association Branding Value
First, your association possesses the unique opportunity of bringing together members around a specific focus. Members identify a unique relationship with your association unlike what they experience on mainstream social networks. Messages coming from your online community strictly have your name and branding on it, not within the template of a mainstream network, such as LinkedIn.
Here is an example of a possible email sponsorship using Social HubSite:
These unique branding factors offer a unique marketing opportunity for brands trying to reach your members. Unlike many other marketing channels, you don’t need to completely rely on numbers. Many brands spend countless dollars to market to a channel just to get to a certain few. This opportunity cuts out that factor making your sponsorship opportunity much more attractive.
Sponsorship Value is Constant
Many associations have and continue to generate revenue through event sponsorships. Although it’s still a great way to generate revenue, it does come with the cost and time of running the event and selling sponsorships. This approach especially puts a strain on associations with a small staff or associations run by volunteers.
Generating revenue from your association’s online community requires much less work and time investment, and more importantly, the value is constant. Sponsorship opportunities within your online community are delivering 24/7.
Online community sponsorships are also much easier to setup. For example, you don’t need to go through the process of getting print banners made up with sponsor logos. Within a few clicks of a mouse you can upload your sponsors logo, link it to their website and you are done. The rest of the value is created based on the engagement level of the community.
Below is an example of how you can position your online community sponsors within the sidebar of a community. Within your Social HubSite, you’ll have endless flexibility to customize where sponsorship banners and logos go.
Sponsors Spark Member Engagement and Bring Membership Value
My favorite sponsorship opportunities are behind online community content contributions. Having consulted with companies for the past decade, I know they are challenged to assure their value-driven content reaches the right audience. Also, having been a member of many associations, I realized associations are really missing the boat on this type of opportunity.
Below is an example of the blog contributor feature built into Social HubSite that we use for Associations Connect:
If sponsors have the opportunity to publish value-driven content directly to your members, and pay for that opportunity, they are naturally going to do it more often. At least they would be wise to. When they publish, members should be notified through the community platform. This helps to spark engagement (getting members to consume the content) and, based on the quality of the content, bring value to members.
Think of it as one less copywriter you have to pay to keep members engaged. As a matter of fact, you get paid for it!
Break Down Barriers to a Better Cash Flow
Through your online community platform, add an online sponsorship form. Social HubSite makes this extremely easy and it’s also something that your community advisor can help you setup. Having your sponsorship registration tied directly to your payment gateway (e.g. Stripe, PayPal, Authorize.net, etc.), will help increase cash flow.
Below is a great example of an online form that could be added into your Social HubSite:
You can give sponsors the opportunity to choose a payment frequency that fits their budget. For example – per month, per quarter and per year. You might want to offer a discount if they pay quarterly or yearly.
Also, you can setup subscription payments so you don’t have to go through the administrative process of sending out invoices and keeping track of accounts receivable. You will pay the credit card processing fees (usually 2-3%), but I feel it’s worth it considering the time and money you save on cutting out the administrative workload.
Lastly, you can add form fields that allow the sponsor the opportunity to give you important bits of information required for the sponsorship. For example – uploading their logo, sharing their bio, etc.
Obviously, as you can see, there are many great benefits to incorporating online community sponsorship as a revenue line for your association. Through both the Social HubSite platform and proper guidance of your dedicated community advisor, you’ll be able to get a program like this up and running in no time.
Below is a sponsorship form template we created. It’s uploaded as a Word document so you can modify it however you see fit. Definitely be sure to tap into the expertise of our team to help guide you along the way. Click here to setup a demo to get the process started.