Start a fire in your social network…okay, not a literal fire. Instead gather the materials you need to start sparking interest and activity within your membership about this member benefit they all should be using. We all know launching a private social network is much easier than developing an actual community of participants who are connected, active and engaged.
Maddie Grant, web strategist at ICF Ironworks and lead editor at SocialFish, will discuss ways that associations are generating discussion and truly engaging stakeholders in order to create a thriving online community members consider a resource.
- Learn community management strategies that make your community a productive and comfortable place for members to participate.
- See how content can attract members, generate discussion, and keep members active and interested.
- Get a better idea of what success looks like for association communities, and what metrics are worth benchmarking and tracking.
Defining PURPOSEWRONG: WE NEED• We need to get moremembers engaged.• We need to generatenon-dues revenue.• We need to drawmembers to the website.• We need to collectcontent from members.RIGHT: MEMBERS NEED• Members need a trustedenvironment tocollaborate.• Members need a place tofind trusted experts whocan help them.• Members need a way tocomment on technicalinformation.MEMBER PERSPECTIVE IS CRITICAL.But wait…dothey REALLYneed that?
• Volunteer group collaboration• Upgrade to established listservsor forums• Social learning• Conferences (time limited)• Hybrid events (time limited)EXAMPLES OF PURPOSE-DRIVENCOMMUNITIES BY ASSOCIATIONS
• Community for member networking(because members should be posting onour site instead of LinkedIn.)• Community to build more member-generated content (because we’ve hadtrouble getting members to contributecontent in the past.)EXAMPLES OF BUSINESS PURPOSENOT ALIGNING TO MEMBER PURPOSE
What’s the (“member need”)purpose of your community?CHAT IN:
Once the planning is done…Did our new boardmember just sayhe’s never used thecommunity?PROMOTING YOUR COMMUNITYIS A PROCESS THAT NEVER ENDS.
PROMOTIONTWO-PRONGED APPROACH TO ONGOING PROMOTIONMULTI-CHANNEL MARKETING• Membership marketing andnew member onboarding• Email newsletters• Features in magazine• Conference marketing and on-site activities• Promotion on websitehomepage and house ads• Platform email notifications forannouncements, digestsCHAMPION AND INFLUENCERMARKETING• Training and guidance forvolunteer group leaders• Training and guidance for staff• Outreach to champions tokeep the site active• Outreach to influencers tobrainstorm ways they mightlike to use the community
SOFT LAUNCH - MEMBERSARCHETYPES OF USEFUL BETA GROUPSArchetype Size Activity Privacy ExampleSmall andgood10-15 High Private Board, working group, eventvolunteersLarge andsocial-media-savvy50-150 Medium Public Technology special interest group,communications special interest groupUp andcoming50-150 Medium Public Young professionals or studentleadersContentcreators10-15 High Public Bloggers, authors, speakers, volunteerleadersLocation-based50-150 Medium Public An active chapterPICK THE RIGHT PEOPLE, AND MAKE YOURFIRST MISTAKES AMONG FRIENDS.
SOFT LAUNCH - MEMBERS• Tech-savvy volunteer group leaders.• Active listserv users who are asking forupdated functionality.• Social members whomay not be active inany of the other betagroups you’ve identified.BETA TESTERS WILL FEEL MORE INVESTED.SO WHO DO YOU NEED ON YOUR SIDE?
SOFT LAUNCH - MEMBERS• Set expectations low.• Explain the vision for the future.• Be specific about what to test. For example:– Set up a profile with a picture.– Add a colleague and send a message.– Join a group/post to a discussion/comment• Tell them how to share feedback.– Set up a feedback group for beta testers.• Prepare them for technical glitches.SENDING A BASIC INVITE TO YOURBETA TESTERS ISN’T ENOUGH
SOFT LAUNCH – STAFFDEFINITELY YES• Technical staff (working on thecommunity)• Member-facing staff (e.g.volunteer liaisons, memberservices)• Reps from content-richdepartments (e.g. pubs,education, conferences)• Reps from communications andmarketing• A rep from executive leadershipPROBABLY NOT• Not everyone (except in verysmall-staff associations.)• Not finance, or other staff withlittle-to-no member-facingresponsibilities.• Not junior staff who have notbeen cleared to participate bytheir boss.• Not the entire executive team.(Wait till things are morepolished.)WHICH STAFF SHOULD BE INVOLVED EARLY
SOFT LAUNCH - STAFF• Have staff beta testers set up their profiles.• Create a private group to serve as the sandbox.• Be specific about what to test.• Use the group to share community-relatedinformation with staff.– Updates on technical progress– Launch plans– Staff policies, roles,responsibilities.• Tell them how to share feedback.• Prepare them for tech glitches.BUILD A SANDBOX AND USE IT.
SOFT LAUNCH - STAFF5 APPROACHES TO STAFF INTERACTION.1. No staff posting.2. All staff posting funneled through a singlecommunity manager.3. Member-facing staff may post in pre-approvedareas, about pre-approved topics.4. Staff with technical knowledge may post as itrelates to their pre-approved area of expertise.5. All staff may post. Training on posting policies maybe required first.FIND THE RIGHT BALANCEBETWEEN TRUST AND CONTROL
What’s the tone of staffparticipation in your communitylike? Informal and chatty?“Helpdesk” only? Invisible, behindthe scenes?CHAT IN:
LAUNCHING AROUND A CONFERENCEI got it! Let’s launch atthe AnnualMeeting…right wheneveryone is their busiestand most distracted.
PROS• High-touch face-to-faceopportunity for training• Opportunities to integratemarketing• Signage and brandingopportunities• Organic content andchampion engagementaround the conferenceCONS• Messages competing withother messaging aroundthe event• Audience is (generally)limited to those attending• Glitches withmobile/tablet use ofcommunity or sketchy wifion-site.• Staff is stretched to themax.LAUNCHING AROUND A CONFERENCE
TIMING THE BIG LAUNCHALTERNATIVE LAUNCH TIMING1. AROUND YOUR MEMBER’S SCHEDULEFor example, tax professionals might find a newcommunity most useful in the quarter prior to taxseason.2. AROUND YOUR STAFF’S SCHEDULELaunch during a quieter period for staff, and letthe community slowly build.CONFERENCES AREN’T THE ONLY OPTION!
NO ONE CARES• Have your own profile.• Add colleagues.• Postblogs/discussions/comments.• Access the resourcelibrary.IT’S NOT ABOUT THE TOOLS. IT’S ABOUTWHAT MEMBERS CAN BUILD WITH THEM.
EVERYONE CARES• Showcase your accomplishments. (profile)• Connect with people who are solving the same challengesyou face. (Or connect with your next employer, if they’re intransition.) (Add colleagues)• Get specific advice from industry experts who can answeryour questions. (post blogs/discussions/comments.)• Share your perspectives on the latest(standards/regulations/effective practices) that areimpacting the way you do business. (access the resourcelibrary).MESSAGING SHOULD FOCUS ONWIIFM (WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME)Look what youcan build!
• Focus on easy tasks in the right order.• Initial tasks: login for the first time and create a profile.• Follow up tasks: join a group, connect with colleagues.– Even better: suggest which groups or colleagues!• Follow up tasks: Read and comment on a recentdiscussion.– Even better: suggest active discussions to comment on.WHEN IT COMES TO INVITATIONS, KEEP IT SIMPLE
WHY ENGAGEMENT?• Support member retention?• Support commerce and revenue goals?• Recruit potential volunteer leaders andcontent creators?• Capture member knowledge?ENGAGEMENT IS A MEANS TO AN END.WHAT DO YOUR STAKEHOLDERS REALLY WANT?
TYPES OF ENGAGEMENTSocialTechnographicsLadder(Josh Bernoff, ForresterResearch, 2010.)ENGAGEMENT IS NOTONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL.
TYPE WHAT TO MEASURECreator Post blogs, discussions, documentsConver-sationalistPost discussions, comments; sendmessagesCritic Comment, rate/reviewCollector Add contacts, bookmarkJoiner Join groupsSpectator Sign in regularly, spend time on the siteInactive Sign in rarely or neverMEASURE DIFFERENT ENGAGEMENT TYPES
Where are your members on theengagement ladder?CHAT IN:
COMMUNITY CONTENT ISDIFFERENTSTRIKE THE RIGHT BALANCE BETWEEN TRADITIONALCONTENT AND MEMBER-GENERATED CONTENTTRADITIONAL MEMBER-GENERATED
DEVELOPING CONTENT FORCOMMUNITYBuild a team• SMEs (staff and members)• Group leaders• Marketing/communications• Education/conferences (staff and speakers)• Government relations• Owners and volunteers for other programsSTOP DEVELOPING CONTENT—STARTDEVELOPING CONTENT CREATORS.
DEVELOPING CONTENT FORCOMMUNITYWork with your team to constantly refine.• How might you present the content to generate an activediscussion?• How might you build community activity around educationcontent or a conference?• How might you help groups use the community to talkamongst themselves?• What’s coming up (not finished yet) that warrants askingthe community a question?ACT AS ADVISOR, EDITOR, AND CURATOR
CURATING CONTENTContent curation is the process of sortingthrough the vast amounts of content on theweb and presenting it in a meaningful andorganized way around a specific theme.(Beth Kanter, Content Curation Primer, Beth’s Blog |http://www.bethkanter.org/content-curation-101/)
THREE UNIQUE WAYS COMMUNITY MANAGERS CURATECURATING CONTENT1. CURATE IN CONTEXTEnrich peer-to-peer discussions.2. CURATE FOR GROUPSTarget content to groups based onspecial interests.3. CURATE FOR ENGAGEMENTLeave no question unanswered.
Spark engagementby finding and rewarding yourchampions4.
• Volunteer leaders• Speakers• Writers• Industry influencers (consultants?)• Digital extroverts from othersocial spacesENGAGING CHAMPIONS STARTS WITH KNOWING WHOTHEY ARE
HAVE YOU ASKED YOUR CHAMPIONS FOR HELP TODAY?WORKING WITH CHAMPIONS1. ASK DIRECTLY2. BE SPECIFIC3. SET A DEADLINE4. FOLLOW UP
THREE IDEAS FOR GETTING CHAMPIONS TO CONTRIBUTEWORKING WITH CHAMPIONS1. Make them the leader of a group.2. Reply to unanswered questions.– Send a link to the specific unansweredthread when you need their help.3. Write about a hot topic.– Do an email “interview” then ask them topost their reply.
– Game mechanics– Promote content fromchampions– Create a volunteer role forchampionsFind ways to rewardchampion involvement.
How have you rewardedchampions in your community?CHAT IN:
• Public social media sites are importantbecause that’s where your peoplealready spend time.• A private community is never areplacement for public social mediaplatforms and a strategy for using them.REMEMBER THIS: A COMMUNITY ISDEFINED BY PEOPLE, NOT PLATFORM.And…peoplewin by alandslide!
PROVIDE CLARITY FOR BOTH STAFF AND MEMBERSHow is the privateplatform any differentfrom what we’re alreadydoing on LinkedIn?
Maddie Grant, CAEWeb Strategist at ICF Ironworksmaddie.email@example.comBlog: www.socialfish.orgwww.socialfish.org/certificatePrivate Community Management ProgramSign up for the Wait List: