This week is ASAE's 2011 Marketing, Membership, and Communications Conference. This event aims to help association professionals learn the tools and techniques to increase the perceived relevance of their organizations and keep members engaged over time.
Most of the speakers will address these goals by covering an aspect of member engagement. Here are three trends that I am watching for this year:
Trend #1: Will Search Engines Enter the Conversation?
When associations discuss successful online marketing channels, the conversation is mainly about websites, email marketing, and especially social media. While these are very important to an association's success, the most widely used channel for an organization's message to get out is rarely broached - search engines.
Search engines are the #1 way that members and other target audiences learn about the topics for which associations advocate. Will marketing, membership, and communication professionals begin treating search engine traffic like the opportunity it is to engage members and tell their story?
Trend #2: Can Membership Organizations Get Real Value From Social Media?
When is comes to social media, many associations are still figuring out both what it means to engage their community and how engaging their community through social networks can benefit the organization. Some organizations are still mistaking mere social media activity for value.
For instance, if you push out messages on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn that are only about your organization, you are probably busy all day. However, your audience in not engaged.
In another common example - if you are creating great content that is valuable to your industry, but not using it to convert members and non-members into specific levels of engagement, you are missing an opportunity to use social media to provide tangible value to your association.
How is your social media activity meeting your association's goals?
Trend #3: Are Associations Ready to Ditch Traditional Private Social Networks for Members?
Private member communities both fascinate and terrify many association executives. The promise of engaged members combined with pressure to "do something with social media" and the investment in time and funds make successful online communities an enigma to many.
These days, online communities are getting a bad rap and often for good reason. Most private social networks have not delivered the member satisfaction and retention that associations set out to reach.
In turn, many savvy associations are implementing member engagement software that includes the tools and methodology to recruit and retain members, keep them engaged, and generate significant revenue. Will associations continue to look to member engagement platforms rather than private social networks to improve and maintain member engagement?