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Rewriting the Rules

of Member EngagemenT
5 Ways Associations Can
Leverage Social CRM to Drive
Interaction & Relevance
Imagine a typical member within your organization or association lets
call him John Jones. Where is Mr. Jones spending time these days?
Whether it is a workday or a weekend, on a desktop computer or a
smartphone, at home or on the go, youll likely fnd him somewhere in
the vast, frontier-like universe of social media. He may be commenting
on a news story, watching a video, sharing a photo, posting a status
update or participating in a host of other activities, but these days,
according to Nielsen Research, social media accounts for at least a
quarter of Mr. Jones time spent online or using a mobile device.
With Facebook on track to hit 1 billion members this summer, 100 million
currently tweeting on Twitter, and LinkedIn connecting 150 million
professionals, Mr. Jones social media activities should come as no
surprise to association professionals. Its clear that a strong majority of
people of all ages and backgrounds now interact with their personal
connections and professional network through a variety of web-based
and mobile social networks, as well as blogs, gaming platforms and
community forums. In addition, people can choose their interactions
based on what is relevant to them where they live, who they know,
what their interests are and what their priorities are in the moment.
So what does that mean for
associations and other member-
based organizations, which want
to stay engaged on many levels
with Mr. Jones both in terms of
interactions as well as relevance?
Social media certainly provides
powerful opportunities to send
member engagement soaring, thanks to the natural connections arising
out of posting, sharing, linking and liking. But in order to best take
advantage of these new ways to develop a two-way dialogue with
your members and boost their loyalty to the organization, youll need
to develop a strong, clear strategy. That strategy needs to help you
navigate this new social universe as well as integrate it into your current
customer relationship management efforts.
Thats because the rules guiding the relationship part of CRM, or
customer relationship management, have fundamentally changed for
good. And members such as Mr. Jones are the ones writing the new rules
of this ever-evolving game.
Associations are changing thanks, most of all, to the changing attitudes,
needs and desires of its members. Todays active member wants to engage
with their association on their own terms, based on their needs at the
moment, as opposed to the passive participants of the past, who simply
opened their mailboxs or email inboxes to receive the latest message.
The rise of social media has put members in the drivers seat when it
comes to engagement they can speak up when they want, share
thoughts with others, or opt-out of any connection. Traditional push
and pull marketing and communications tactics are no longer
enough to connect with members, and simply measuring and analyzing
member engagement through their transactions will miss many valuable
opportunities to gauge connections, encourage participation and build
long-term, two-way relationships.
Instead, if you want more from your members, you must connect with them
where they are and how they want in a personalized, relevant way.
Furthermore, members also want to be able to interact with others who have
similar interests within the communities and organizations they participate in.
They assume you will be aware of the conversations happening about your
organization in the social sphere and that you will respond promptly to what is
being said again, in a personalized, relevant way.
Sounds like a whole lot of
effort, right? However, if
you invest the time, energy
and expense to develop
authentic, real-time
interaction and engagement
with members through
social media, you will get a
signifcant return. First of all,
your members will be more
likely to engage in various
ways that count including
renewing memberships,
attending events, spreading
the word about important issues and contributing to your groups overall
mission. In addition, youll have the chance to build the kind of long-term
loyalty that leads to organizational growth and boosts bottom-line results
when it comes to education, networking, fundraising and the exclusive
membership community value that all associations strive for. That can
make your efforts a worthwhile win-win.
Developing Authentic Engagement
All of the above leads to what has become an inarguable fact: Getting on
the social media bandwagon is no longer a maybe-we-should option for
associations and other member-based organizations. Instead, it is a must-
do. Simply put, those that dont will be left behind by the progressive ones
working to meet their members current wants and needs.
However, taking advantage of the potential of this new, social
member isnt just about slapping a page up on Facebook or Twitter
or posting daily on LinkedIn or Pinterest. Over the past few years,
associations and organizations have experimented in different social
media environments, but now, its clear that social media tools need
to be used more thoughtfully and strategically, through the gathering,
measurement and analysis of social data, in order to provide a clear
member view that is useful and actionable. That has led to the rise of
Social CRM.
In the same way that traditional CRM has been used to manage an
associations interactions and relevant relationships with members
through data gathering and analysis, campaign automation and
customer service support, a comprehensive Social CRM strategy is
essential in order to integrate and evaluate social data (ranging from
social media profle information and logging social inquiry responses
to keyword tracking and social conversation monitoring). It offers
valuable feedback that can help inform future decisions about brand-
building, recruitment and marketing messaging. By using the right
tools and tactics, combined with an organization-wide, member-
centric philosophy, an association can use Social CRM to provide a
clear understanding of what members need, which in turn can inform
decisions that drive long-term loyalty and increased engagement.
The Rise Of Social CRM
Getting on the social media bandwagon
is no longer a maybe-we-should option
for associations and other member-based
organizations. Instead, it is a must-do.
An Era Of Collaborative Conversation
Social CRM is already becoming an essential piece in the entire
customer relationship management puzzle: MarketingSherpa, a research
frm and online resource, reports that integrating social data into CRM
systems is an emerging practice that is becoming instrumental to
companies and organizations of all sizes and across industries. According
to analyst frm Gartner, the worldwide social customer relationship
management (CRM) market is forecast to reach over $1 billion in
revenue by the end of 2012, up from approximately $625 million in 2010.
But Social CRM is not just about technology. At its heart, it is a philosophy
that is, in turn, supported by the right technology tools and tactics.
According to William Band, an analyst at Forrester Research who writes
regularly about these topics, the most important issue facing todays
companies and organizations is determining whom youre trying to
reach, what youre trying to accomplish, and how you plan to change
your relationships with your customers.
The good news is, member-based associations already have real
relationships with their customers and any social efforts to increase
interaction and relevance are really just an extension of that core
mission. Social CRM takes a broad, holistic view of the member-
association relationship and is designed to encourage a collaborative
conversation that is mutually benefcial and evolves over time. The
more you can learn about your members and how they want to be
communicated with through the many layers of social data, the more
you can anticipate their needs and work to meet them. This can drive
member engagement through social platforms, providing additional
social data, fostering more data analysis, and on and on through a
layered, evolving, long-term relationship.
Social CRM takes a broad, holistic view of
the member-association relationship and
is designed to encourage a collaborative
conversation that is mutually benefcial and
evolves over time.
So how can your organization leverage Social CRM toward increasing
member engagement? These are fve ways to turn your current customer
relationship management efforts into social success:
1. Manage the member lifecycle.
Traditionally, the typical member lifecycle was linear and predictable.
Lets go back to the imaginary member John Jones: In the standard
model, Mr. Jones would be recruited into the organization and efforts
would be made to retain his membership, market to him and interact
with him regularly. The success of that effort would be based on and
measured through transactions: Have we asked for a contribution to
an annual fund drive? Is Mr. Jones up-to-date on paying his dues?
Has he registered for the autumn auction or the holiday party? From
a traditional customer relationship management standpoint, as long
as you supported, managed and fostered that transactional-based
lifecycle, you enjoyed membership success.
Today, however, the member lifecycle is no longer linear or
predictable it is messy, multi-pronged and may seem diffcult to
measure. Mr. Jones may not respond to emails, but is connected
to your Facebook Fan page. How do you distinguish that kind of
communication? He has spoken up on Twitter, shared photos of
your last event on Flickr and he is friends with other members, but
how will you know that if you only measure member engagement
by his traditional transactions? Also, how can you make sure your
interactions with Mr. Jones are relevant based on his interests and
where he spends his time? You may recognize social media as a way
to increase relevance, but without the right social data you cant
take advantage of the opportunity.
Through gathering and analyzing social data and layering it onto
traditional data streams, organizations now have the chance to
engage with members on their terms in an ongoing, meaningful,
relevant way. Problems that
might have gone unnoticed
through traditional channels can
now be highlighted and dealt
with immediately through social
media and analyzed for future
reference and action. None of this
would be possible if you werent
willing to meet your members
where they are in the social space,
and use the social data to build a
meaningful dialogue throughout
the members evolving lifecycle.
2. Increase participation via a dedicated community.
Member-based organizations are unique in that there is a strong
common bond that ties the membership together a thread that
tends to bind participants together closer than, say, fans of big
brands such as The GAP or Trader Joes. How can you harness that
powerful connection between members, as well as between those
members and the organization?
A private, dedicated online community offers a singular opportunity
to increase participation in ways an outside network cannot. You
control the look and feel, the messaging and the access. You
can observe, analyze and sometimes steer the conversation to
resolve issues. You can add value in terms of what is relevant to
your members instead of letting outside social networks control the
conversation, the commerce and the data.
For members, a private, gated community offers them the opportunity
to participate in a smaller, password-protected environment, while you
can improve their member experience by easily being responsive and
transparent. It doesnt have to be an overwhelming prospect to build a
dedicated community from the ground up. The right technology tools
can help you easily set up and maintain a private space that drives
social data right to a single dashboard.
Associations are facing a relevance crisis. Including yours.
Do something about it.

MemberFuse , an online community and professional networking solution,
unlocks your networks true potential and is your organizations own social
networking website where you control the look, messaging, community and
group access based on member data stored in your database.
Engagement: Give your members a way to engage with each other and the
association from anywhere 24/7.
Its YOUR Community: Not Facebook or LinkedIn. You get the beneft of being
the community owner, including the rights to potential advertising dollars.
Internal vs. External: The social web can be a risky place. With a MemberFuse
community, you remove some of the risk. Give yourself a home feld
advantage. You set the agenda. You control the topics.
Relevance: Your members zero-in on whats most important to them and follow
those topics.
Individualized: Your members confgure their own personalized community
dashboard and email alerts.
On-demand Knowledge: Your associations answer to Google, Twitter and
LinkedIn. Offcial association content and member-generated content exist
side-by-side, giving members 24/7 access to association vetted information and
peer-to-peer knowledge. And its all easily fndable with site-wide search.
Collaboration: Give committees, task forces, special interest groups and
communities of practice their own online group collaboration spaces to
organize their work, develop documents, organize events, share resources, take
polls and hold discussions.
3. Provide new networking models.
A dedicated, member-only community can be considered a
signifcant beneft by a member a value-added experience all its
own. Here, the relationship is not just between you and your members,
but between the members themselves; creating not just a dialogue
between the membership and the organization, but a layered, multi-
directional communication where you interact with your members,
they interact with you, and they interact with each other. And in all
those directions, the communications become personalized and
relevant to your members specifc needs and wants.
Thanks to new social tools, this is a new model of networking that
highlights your members and the relationships between them as your
most valuable asset. You dont need to give that value away to an
outsider instead, you can offer a safe space for your members
to connect and collaborate by sharing documents, discussing
opinions, and networking. At the same time, the social community
becomes integrated with the organizations CRM database, allowing
the opportunity for ongoing analysis, measurement and reporting
which helps you stay relevant to members, offer targeted and
pertinent information, and anticipate their future needs.
The social community becomes integrated
with the organizations CRM database,
allowing the opportunity for ongoing
analysis, measurement and reporting.
4. Monitor the conversations taking place on social channels.
Havent you ever wanted to
be a fy on the wall during
an important conversation?
Well, more and more of
your members interactions
are taking place on social
media platforms. Dont let
them happen without you
because todays members
are savvy and they want you
to be aware of what is going on. Serving your membership is central
to your future. By monitoring social comments and interactions, you
can be more personalized in your response, and your members will
be better served over the long haul.
Whether those social conversations happen peer-to-peer or member-
to-association doesnt really matter you still need to know about
them in order to respond in the most relevant way. Just think about
folks who post complaints on Twitter or Facebook: They may not go
straight to the company to complain. Instead, they might sound off
to their friends and connections. You want to be aware of that peer-
to-peer communication, so you can respond promptly and effciently.
The same is true if they do reach out to your organization through
social media outlets; you want to be there to meet their needs and
then keep track of and analyze those interactions going forward.
Capture compelling data with one dynamic tool.
The Avectra Social Console, a Social Media Management System (SMMS),
combines tools for listening, engaging, publishing and scheduling with powerful
analytics in one robust tool.
Using a SMMS that integrates with your CRM unlocks a powerful new level of
understanding about the preferences, attitudes and engagement of your
members, prospects and other stakeholders. Benefts include:
Track down lapsed members who have moved on to a new company but
failed to notify your association
Discover prospective members, donors, advertisers, sponsors, authors
and speakers
Monitor your annual conventions social media buzz, allowing you to make
adjustments on the fy if necessary
Attach social content to member records and discover which stakeholders
are advocates or detractors
Create your own scoring system, enabling you to determine who are the
most infuential in your associations social media environment
Record social media interactions between members and staff like you
would record a customer service call
Decide how to engage with a new and growing LinkedIn group that is
critical of your association
5. Automate & measure member engagement.
The sheer amount of social data, as well as the vast amount of social
sources, can seem overwhelming when it comes to measurement
and analysis. But what if you could consolidate all of that member
information into one single dashboard, and produce a single score
based on qualitative and quantitative analysis, which is easily visible
and simple to decipher? What if resulting responses and campaigns
could be automated and triggered to handle various member
questions, problems or communications? Your staff executives and
board of directors will likely sit back in their chairs with wide smiles
happy with the increased focus on the bottom line, boosted
effciency and cost-savings, and freed-up resources for other projects.
That is the power behind todays Social CRM technology the
ability to consolidate and measure social data, combine it with
traditional CRM data, and turn it into personalized, relevant
information that can be measured and shared easily and quickly
with the organization and with members, both to use now and for
future decision-making purposes.
Avectras proprietary A-Score measures the engagement level
of individuals and organizations on an ongoing basis, providing
qualitative insight for calculating and measuring the health of your
membership, your services and your overall business. By distilling the
ever-increasing amounts of data available about your members into
the A-Score, It is the ultimate tool to enhance, optimize and automate
new and existing programs and services to encourage engagement
and fuel the success of your business.
Imagine the ability to determine if and how member
engagement correlates with the success of your organization
and the individual success of your members? The A-Score
confrms that associations help members succeed and that
their programs are working just the validation associations
are seeking with their members and to fuel future organization
growth. That is the power of A-Score.
Patrick Dorsey, Avectra, Vice President of marketing
Theres no doubt that the world of social media can be overwhelming,
with new sites popping up all the time and confusing tools requiring time
and effort to decipher. It can be scary to make decisions surrounding
unproven platforms when it feels like youre just fguring out last months
big trend.
Still, you have to start somewhere, and you can start slow, with trusted tools
and tactics that move you in the right direction. With the right Social CRM
strategies, you can accomplish some very concrete objectives to meet
your goals of increasing member engagement: You can recognize and
reward members who infuence others in the social sphere, for example.
You can reach out to members at-risk of leaving the organization. You
can recruit potential members by building budding relationships in social
spaces. You can be aware of trends and topics members are currently
discussing. And, you can better target and automate marketing messages
that reach the right members at the right times.
Social CRM is not just about content, its about developing conversations
that grow and evolve and transform into long-term relationships. Then,
its about using feedback from social data to make decisions about how
to improve member service. Its a layered and ultimately circular effort
that is based on a simple, straightforward philosophy.
Certainly, associations and organizations have had to evolve as their
members have changed and the overall universe of engagement has
changed thanks to social media. But the basic foundation and principles
of what you want to accomplish remains the same: You want to improve
and increase member engagement. You want to build and boost long-
term loyalty.
While you need to tread carefully when it comes to new social trails, you
want to take your organization toward a successful, growth-oriented
future. Social CRM can help you stay true to your associations values
and overall mission, while still moving with the times, without fear, into
the new and exciting social frontier. Mr. Jones, and your other active
members, will thank you with trust, communication, long-term loyalty and
ongoing engagement.
But the basic foundation and principles
of what you want to accomplish remains
the same: You want to improve and
increase member engagement. You want
to build boost long-term loyalty.
Follow Patrick on Twitter
For almost 20 years, Avectra has translated the business needs of associations, not-for-profts
and member-based organizations into market-leading software and award-winning services.
We automate your business, so you can focus on serving your members. And with Avectra
Social CRM and an array of social business solutions, our mission is simple:
Enable organizations to engage both internal and external audiences in more sophisticated,
relevant and transparent relationships to promote advocacy, community and action while
driving business value.
About Avectra
7901 Jones Branch Drive
Suite 500
McLean, VA 22102
Phone (703) 506-7000
Fax (703) 506-7001
Patrick Dorsey is Avectras vice-president of Marketing and is responsible for the
companys worldwide marketing, including demand generation, product marketing
and corporate communications. Asked to describe his role in 140 characters, he replied:
Build great products, relentlessly focus on customer success & create an army of Avectra
evangelists. Unapologetically Purple.
Patrick has published articles with Marketing Profs, Destination CRM, Direct Marketing
News and numerous association-industry publications. A member of the American
Society of Association Executives, he writes and speaks about customer relationship
management (CRM) , membership and the role of data management, analytics and
social technology in the association community and society.