Community is for your members, not for your organization

Last week I was telling you about how engaging for the sake of engagement has pushed old school social media platforms like Facebook away from true social engagement and into an age of clickbait, brand-ambassador advertising. It’s exactly this kind of behavior and engagement for engagement’s sake that can end up killing the real community that your association has worked for decades–perhaps even centuries–to build. And as the clickbait age reaches maturity, it’s more important than ever for your organization to identify its core purpose and realign all of its work–including its digital presence, and especially its online community–to achieve that purpose.

If you’ve never heard of Feverbee founder Rich Millington, he has preached the gospel of purposeful engagement for a long time. He urges organizations to find their community’s core purpose and focus on two or three strategies and engagement metrics that ensure your members will return–not because they received a notification, but because they know their interaction in your community will have a real purpose and a real outcome. I would definitely recommend checking out Feverbee’s resources to help you define and refine your engagement strategies once you know what you want your members get out of your community.

And if you don’t already know what the purpose of your community is, then it’s time you asked your members. This means literally asking them by kickstarting an advisory committee, finding your net promoter score, or just starting a discussion thread. Let your members tell you what it is that they’re looking for and you’re more likely to hit the mark than relying on your gut. And the best part is that at least a couple of the people you talk to will be willing to do some of the work themselves. Associations and societies are for volunteers, after all. So take advantage of it.

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