Trade Associations all have the same goal in mind, gaining and retaining members. This will often be a part of every choice made throughout the organization from how to spend budget to hiring decisions to events being put on. How do you create social media, emails, and content that works for you and can fit into that plan?
Oftentimes, content falls to the wayside when schedules fill up. It is important to set aside some time to sit down and figure out your content strategy, how you will use social media, and how your marketing fits into member retention plans. 79% of adults in the US are active on at least one social media, so odds are your membership is too.
Here are some tips for your content marketing strategy and why it is important in retaining your membership.
- Create a Closed Facebook or LinkedIn group for members
This is a great way to engage your membership and give them a chance to connect with each other in a curated online community. Your groups are also a good place for announcements that don’t fit in on your public pages and engage with your followers in a more organic way. This is also a great benefit to your members to engage with fellow members they may not otherwise know.
Be sure to post in the group as well, especially at the beginning, to foster engagement from your members. Think of things you would share at an in-person event and publish that information inside your group.
When I worked at a Chamber of Commerce, we had our public pages to announce events, share community news, and promote sponsors/donors. Our member-only group allowed person to person referrals, polls, sneak peeks, knowledge sharing, and idea generation. Once it took off, people were asking for referrals and advice all the time and we were able to use it for great member feedback.
This will require a monitor on your end. Someone on your team will need to approve members, posts, and monitor content. Be sure to establish the rules of your group and stick to them. This can also be written into your social media policy or code of conduct.
- Send out regular emails
Give your membership the information they need without overwhelming them. The average email open rate across all industries is 16%, while associations are 23%. Members are paying for your content, instead of making them search for it make it easily accessible in weekly emails.
Keep the most important information at the top of your email. This might include big events you have coming up, changes in legislation that will affect your membership, or the latest news. It may also be helpful to set a format for every email, so people know where to go for the information they are looking for. Make sure to change up the subject line as well. Rather than update with the date, pick something that is important in the email and can grab attention.
Consider including a note from your president or a board member on a rotating basis. In a business like a chamber, you can feature member businesses, events, or press releases to give additional member benefit, check out tip 4 for more on this.
- Keep updated on social media
With 54% of people checking social media before making a purchase decision, keeping your social up to date is non-negotiable. Whether you have someone in charge in-house or contract out with an agency, figure out a way to keep an active presence on social media. A general rule is one post per day or 5 posts a week.
It can also be helpful to follow along with your member’s profiles and their business pages. If you have someone dedicated to your marketing, have them do some social listening to get the pulse of the community. This can include commenting or liking member posts, seeing the news of your community, or even getting a jump on a potential crisis. Even just a few minutes a day could bring huge engagement.
- Push your members!
People join most trade organizations based on what you can do for them. Utilize social media, emails and your site to showcase your members, donors and sponsors. Maybe your member is looking to hire, has a new blog out, or is trying to get something passed. When appropriate, involvement from you can mean all the difference, and possibly a guaranteed re-up on membership.
When I was with the chamber, we had a member (worth thousands of dollars a year) ready to drop. We scheduled a meeting to convince them to stay and I was able to pull every time we mentioned them on social media and in emails, where their logo appeared throughout the year, when we recommended them, etc. Once they saw the data, they re-signed at 50% higher membership than they had been the previous year.
You are there to serve your members, so figure out what is important to them. As a bonus, it is easy content for you! If you aren’t sure what is important to your members, create a survey to send out or committees on member engagement. You can use this to find out what social media they are on, what events they want to attend, what is working for them, etc.
- Stay up on trends
Your membership is looking to you to stay on top of the industry standards. Is there a tax change coming that will affect your membership? Or maybe you work with educators and need to stay up to date on vaccine news. Be the source of information on your community and industry. It is about more than just sharing information, maybe an event or webinar needs to be created to explore a topic more thoroughly.
- Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
Oftentimes, people overthink content creation and want to start everything from the ground up. Be purposeful in using your content and optimizing it for maximum engagement. Your newest blog post could be turned into an email, several social media posts, and even a video depending on subject matter. Taking on this approach will help extend the reach and lifespan of a single piece content, and help your association maintain a regular publishing cadence.
Find a few organizations that are relevant to your industry and check them for content. You want to share information that will be interesting and useful to your audience. You can use a tool like Flipboard that lets you find stories based on topic, or set up a repository of websites to pull content from. When you are stuck for content, you can refer back to these sources and be ready to go again.
Where to go next
Members are looking to you to help them and their business. Take advantage of your content strategy to give them the best value and help you re up those memberships next year! With organizations of all sizes jumping into the content game – it is important that you begin a smart content strategy to re-capture and retain the membership base and make yourself known as the dominant voice of your industry.
If you still feel stuck, contact us today!