Integrating Social Media into your Association’s Membership Drive

When it comes to membership drives, there are two types of members; those your association wants to retain and those your association wants to recruit.

While this is simplifying things a little too much, it does highlight a significant point for associations and their membership strategy. It’s vital that organizations think about their different audiences when it comes time for a membership drive and tailor their communications to each segment.

Social media is one communications tool that associations can effectively use to connect with different demographics during a membership drive. Just like other media, online platforms don’t follow the one-size-fits-all motto. That’s why I’ve taken a look at the six people your association encounters during a membership drive and how to draw them to your organization through social media.

The Loyal Member

Everyone likes a little recognition, especially members who have invested in your association time and again. Social media give your organization a perfect platform to offer these members something in return.

Your association can profile a long-time member on its blog or in a video. It’s also a great idea to post about loyal members on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms during a membership drive. For example, tweet that a member has been a part of the association for 30 years and one interesting fact about them. Not only does this show loyal members that they are appreciated, it also highlights your association’s culture of recognition and shows others that they will be rewarded if they stick with the organization year after year. 

The Lapsed Member

These are the members that your association has an on-again off-again relationship with. They were members for a bit, but haven’t paid the dues in a year or two. They’ve seen what your organization can do and didn’t find it worth their while. This is where social media can team up with other communication tools and win back the hearts of lapsed members.

To create an effective social media strategy around lapsed members for membership drives, you first have to find out why they left in the first place. Using surveys or good old fashioned telephone calls can help you pinpoint the issues that created a rift between your association and lapsed members. Once you have this information, build your social media strategy around showing lapsed members how your organization has improved. For example, if lapsed members say they didn’t get enough out of events/conferences, create how-to videos on best practices in networking and getting the most value out of your association’s events/conference. Share these videos on several platforms and make lapsed members reconsider.

The Long-Time Non-Member

There are some people who aren’t members and have never been. These are the people that associations crave during a membership drive, but are often the hardest to attract. The reason for this reluctance usually focuses on a perceived lack of value that membership provides an individual. Social media, specifically infographics, can be a strong force in reversing this type of thinking.

Infographics jazz up the cold, hard numbers in an easily-readable, informative format, which makes it ideal to prove value to skeptical potential members. Crunch the available numbers on the value of benefits, programs and events and repackage them to create a positive overall picture of how your association helps members. For example, create a chart comparing the yearly spending of non-members vs. members, calculate the total savings and input it into the infographic. Infographics can be shared on almost any social media platform, which makes it a great way to reach a lot of people in any given industry and dispel any myths about a lack of value.

The New Non-Member

These are the fresh-faced individuals who are new to the industry and who your association will have to woo with a great first impression during a membership drive. Most of these potential members are part of a younger generation and are focused on networking to create a good foundation for their career. This makes for an interesting opportunity for your association on social media.

LinkedIn is a popular social media platform for young professionals looking to network and make a mark in an industry. Creating a LinkedIn group, posting articles and starting conversations is a great way to include young professionals and reinforce a culture of accessibility, customer service and learning. Moderating Twitter chats are another way to connect young professionals to industry veterans through your association and establish your organization as the go-to resource for career development. Writing blogs about relevant issues for young professionals can also highlight your association’s commitment to those who just entered the profession.

The One-Year Member

The end of an individual’s first year as a member is a crucial time. They gave the association a shot and now must decide if the benefits of being a member were worth the financial investment. This is the point when many people begin down a path to becoming either a loyal member or a long-time non-member. Social media can help your organization nudge them towards the former.

The key word in the one-year member’s decision is value. If he or she feels they received enough value in their first year of membership, they are likely to renew. Social media is a great vehicle for highlighting the accomplishments of your association from the past year and showcasing what these achievements meant for members. Creating a year-in-review can be done with a blog post that includes an infographic/timeline, a photo collage on Facebook or Instagram or through a video that shares short clips from the year that was. This gives your association a chance to show members all of the events, advocacy, staff projects, publications and other initiatives that members have received over the year. One year is often not enough time for members may to become aware of all the value they are getting for their money. Social media can shine a light on the benefits and encourage a one-year member to become a two-year member.

The Business Member

Industry professionals probably make up the bulk of your association’s membership, but business members (those who provide services to your main membership group) can be a crucial part of your revenue strategy and membership drive. Social media is a great way to convince potential business members to invest in your association.

One of the best ways to showcase the association’s value to business members is for companies to hear it from other companies. This means a simple guest blog can work wonders. Write a blog post that includes an interview with a current business member or, even better, recruit a loyal business member to write their own post. Focus the post on the benefits available to business members and how to best access these benefits. You can also present value in an infographic about trade show stats, sponsorship opportunities and other services.

Marc Cousineau is the Founder and President of Incline Marketing. Marc has worked for several non-profit organizations, including Cuso International and the Canadian Golf Superintendents Association. He has worked in several areas of communications for these organizations including social media and website management, public engagement and magazine publishing. Marc also has experience in writing, editing and photography for several publications such as GreenMaster Magazine and Ottawa Life Magazine. He has a bachelors of journalism from Carleton University. His passion for the non-profit and professional association sector led him to found Incline Marketing to promote organizations that are helping provide vital resources and services to the community. Follow Marc on Twitter @MarcCousineau2 and @InclineMktg