It's that time of year when people think about personal and professional resolutions. Often the personal resolutions involve adopting a healthier lifestyle. If you have ever sworn you're giving up something that is detrimental to your health, like losing weight, exercising more, or any similar healthy-living promise, you most likely gave yourself some rules to live by.
If your goal was to lose weight, you probably had a number in mind and it was probably larger than a pound. If you wanted to run a marathon that year, you probably set yourself some training goals of a certain distance each day.
To be able to reach your goals, you must set incremental check-ins and measure your progress. After all, very few people get up from binge watching their favorite show for hours on end and immediately run a marathon.
Member engagement should be the same way. You need a goal and steps you can measure that lead towards that goal. Without these things in place your engagement efforts are just a lot of wasted energy. You can set up your engagement tactics any way that you would like, as long as they are measurable and build upon one another to achieve your final goal. Here's an easy way to measure the effectiveness of your member engagement strategy:
Every goal begins with a line in the sand. For someone who wants to lose weight, that's recording your current weight and body measurements. For an association that wants to increase member engagement that's defining what â€œengagementâ€ looks like to you in measureable numbers (i.e., blog comments, volunteer participation, shares, etc.) and what you are currently working with.
It can be difficult to get people to participate in the ways that we would like them to. Most people have a comfort level when it comes to participation. This means some will read your content and enjoy it, but that's all that they are comfortable with. Others will like your content and someone else may share it on social media. The key here is to determine what types of participation and engagement that your organization values most, and to find ways to encourage those types of engagement.
Define different types of engaged members. Create a scoring system if that makes it easier to sort and achieve. A scoring system gives points to members who perform the desired activities you've deemed necessary to be considered â€œengaged.â€ If you create a scoring system, you'll want to include points for active and passive activities. For instance, you may award more points to guest bloggers versus content readers.
An engaged member does not have to be one who attends every meeting. Engaged members find value in your association's offerings and how they participate and consume that value varies.
Once you know who is engaged you can apply your scoring to all members and determine who is not engaged. These are members who do not interact with your association in any way - not actively or passively. These people are most likely to let their membership lapse in the future.
You can also determine who is not engaged (enough), or who is in jeopardy, based on your definition of an engaged member. Have they ever been engaged? Take a look at their historic engagement scores. Are they remaining steady, declining, or slowly increasing?
Knowing who is engaged, who is not, and what engagement changes have occurred recently allows you to know what you're starting with. Now it's time to begin your engagement strategy by setting a timeframe in which you will conduct your engagement efforts.
However, you need to control for (or at least highlight) things that sway engagement outside of what you are doing. These things could include member-centric changes such as the lifecycle of membership or association-wide actions, including marketing or recruitment campaigns. Note them and track the changes in engagement over time.
Engagement levels should be plotted over time and analyzed, not looked at only when the final buzzer blows on the date you arbitrarily picked by which you wanted to increase engagement.
You've measured your starting point and assessed your membership. You've set a timeframe and created a reporting structure to chart changes over time. Now it's finally time to implement your strategy. This may be when you implement an online community management plan or launch a social media outreach campaign.
Whatever your tactic to improve engagement, implement it and chart changes on a regular basis, noting anything outside of your efforts that could also alter engagement levels. Keep in mind this could even be things that seem unrelated like bringing in a new executive director.
Use your original scoring system that you used to assess initial engagement. Look at it through an individual lens (note how each member changed over time) and through the collective lens of what your efforts did for your entire membership or specific member segments (i.e. new members). Do you have more active and less passive engagers? Analyze your efforts through a variety of reports.
Engagement is an ongoing effort. After you measure your results, make adjustments on how you can improve your engagement efforts in the future. What worked and what didn't? Optimize your findings, apply them, and repeat your member engagement tactics. As impressed as your board may be with your work, engagement doesn't end with a report and kudos from higher ups.