Recently, the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project released its latest report covering online community. Here are the slides and member engagement takeaways from their study:
While the data from Pew is always thought-provoking, I want to highlight 5 key data points from this latest online community study that are particularly important to association executives.
The following chart highlights how the survey's respondents view the internet's impact on their level engagement as a member.
Content and Collaboration Drive Your Online Community
Provide information of value and a way for members of your organization to collaborate with each other on issues, events, programs, and the operation of your group. Tip: Keep in mind that, in addition to the right platform, successful collaboration takes both defined processes and consistent execution of the community management plan.
Online Communities Remove Barriers to Engagement
According the study, almost half of your members use the internet to stay engaged with your organization when they otherwise would not be. This means that your members will become more active in your organization if you give them an easy-to-use member engagement platform from which they derive value.
Maintain an Online/Offline Marketing Mix
According to the study, more people originally find your organization through offline channels than find you using the internet, so maintain a mix of paid, owned, and earned marketing channels both online and offline. However, building a strong private online community that solves your members pressing problems drives offline referrals and word-of-mouth buzz about your organization.
According to the following data from the PEW study, the top 2 roles that the internet plays in helping an organization achieve its goals, fit nicely into the missions of most associations.
The Internet is Tailor-Made for Associations and Membership Organizations
With 53% of group members indicating that the internet plays a major role in getting a candidate elected and 46% saying that internet plays a major role in raising awareness about an issue, associations have an unprecedented opportunity to align their online member engagement strategy with their missions and legislative goals.
Continue to Invest in Online Community
Regardless of whether this stat refers to "˜spending more time' online, offline, or working solo on group issues, the importance of an online member engagement is undeniable. Considering the busy life of many professional association, trade group, or academic society members, executives should keep in mind that almost a quarter of their members say that the internet helps them spend more time with their groups. Though 23% is not a very large percentage of your membership, imagine if you didn't invest in helping those members stay engaged.