4 Ways to Use Your Evangelists to Increase Member Engagement
Most associations have the goal to increase member engagement, but that's easier said than done when there are so many things competing with your members' attention. One effective means is through association evangelists. Like the brand evangelist in promoting business, the association evangelist is a member who is so fantastically excited about what you're doing that (s)he tells everyone and does a lot of your member recruiting for you! That begs the question, how do you go about garnering these coveted and valuable association evangelists?
Glad you asked…
Be Valuable to Your Members
Unlike those ridiculous TV commercials, real people don't go around telling their friends how fabulous their new toothpaste is or how much they love their laundry detergent. They do, however, go around talking about something new they've learned or something truly special they've discovered. In other words, they tell people about things that add value to their lives. What value do you provide your members? Is it worth talking about? If you want association evangelists, it should be!
Your association management software should be empowering your organization with the best platforms to deliver value. It should also help you collect the metrics to determine exactly how much value you're delivering from your members' viewpoint. Are only 45 percent of your emails being opened? Are just 35 percent of your members actively participating in your online community forums? Use the data you have to make the necessary changes to deliver high value for your membership dues—value your members can't get anywhere else.
Be Active in Your Niche
People like to think they're part of something that makes a difference. Are you doing enough to get the word out about what difference your association is making in the world? Association evangelists only emerge when they feel they are a part of something important, worthwhile, and, above all, successful. Tout your latest research. Make a big deal about your philanthropic efforts. Get talked about in the industry magazines and news blogs. Be active, engaged, and important.
A secret ingredient to getting free promotions is to promote the work of others. If you want people to like, share, and promote your stuff, get out there and promote things others do. This includes your members and staff, as well as other industry and thought leaders.
Perhaps the best way to become and remain relevant is to be the proud owner of an active, informative online community. Have a voice—don't leave it all up to your members to start and maintain great conversations. Ask hard questions, especially those up for lots of debate, like ethics considerations and opinions on recent regulations and legislation. When your members start new threads, chime in and be heard. Your AMS can help you manage these online communities, where content grows at a rapid pace. Develop a strong voice for your association, and always use that voice when "speaking" to your online community, as well as on your blog, in your newsletters, and through other communications.
Be a Great Employer
Never underestimate the power and potential of your own employees when it comes to building and fostering association ambassadors. If you provide them with the right tools, training, and other resources, they'll do a lot of up-talking your association outside the organization. Similarly, if your association software is outdated and difficult to use, they'll do a lot of talking, but it won't be evangelizing your organization. Happy employees are any organization's best brand ambassadors and evangelists.
How will you know if your association ambassadors are growing engagement for you? You'll have to measure it, of course. Check out the eBook to learn how to do just that.
About Jennifer Barrell
As the Director of Content, Branding & Buzz at Aptify, Jen oversees the strategy and execution of brand management and content production across the organization’s global offices. She thrives on bringing compelling content and useful information to associations to help them grow and engage their membership. She's also an avid fan of mid-century modern design and all things science fiction.