We lived on farms, then we lived in cities, and now we’re going to live on the internet!
If the last 20 years of pop culture has taught us anything, it’s that at some point in the not-too-distant future, we’re all going to be “plugged-in” to machines, and live somewhere in the ether of The Internet; face-to-face interaction will be as dated as communicating via smoke signal.
Ok, so maybe we’re not quite there yet, but as an association, it’s probably wise to keep up to date with the latest ways to keep in touch with your members. That means having and maintaining an active Twitter feed, Facebook, and fitting your association’s website with a strong and focused online community. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should ignore your live, in-person events.
Online communities are great — and necessary even — for making sure your members can stay in touch, especially when they may live half a world apart. But, when members only interact with each other online, they may be standing on a weak foundation. Even if they know each other’s basic information like their names, and rudimentary interests, it’s easy for them to blend in to the amorphous swirl of anonymity the internet provides.
If your association is experiencing low member engagement, maybe it’s time to have them meet face-to-face. While technology has evolved leaps and bounds over the last half-century, our brains are still wired pretty much the same as our hunter-gatherer ancestors. The act of being able to look someone in the eye, shake their hand, and listen to their voice as they speak is far greater for forming a long-term bond than simply reading text on a screen. Hosting and promoting live events and conferences is a great place to foster this type of interaction between your members.
That’s why it’s important to think about integration when building and maintaining your association’s website. It’s likely that your members will hear about your upcoming events from your association’s website first, and the best chance you have at getting them to register is to make the process as easy as possible for them to register. That means giving your members the ability to register right from your association’s website. And while the back-end set up for this can be complicated, if it’s done properly, maintenance should be as easy as keeping your events calendar up-to-date. Choosing the right CMS, and the right team to set it up is the key, to giving your members the smooth experience they expect.