Social Media: Member-Based Associations
An in depth search of industry sites, trade publications, and marketing sites did not uncover any cases studies specifically on how member-based associations successfully increased member engagement and/or membership utilizing their website and social media. However, we did find some helpful studies on associations who did accomplish those goals with other tools, and those are provided below. The strategies utilized by these associations could likely be adapted to be used on social media and/or association websites.
American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC)
- The American Association for Respiratory Care is "the leading national and international professional association for respiratory care." AARC provides exam discounts, career services, education, and up-to-date industry news for members.
- In the two years prior to 2015, the organization had over 18,000 lapsed members. Rather than focus on targeting new members, the association decided to focus on getting lapsed members to rejoin.
- Sherry Milligan, Associate Executive Director of Membership was in charge of the campaign. The first thing they did was to analyze data both on what triggered people to become members in the first place, and what some reasons were for not renewing. Once this data had been compiled and analyzed, the target group was divided into segments, so personalized messaging could be used that was focused on what was most important to each segment.
- People whose memberships had lapsed in the previous 3-6 months were sent emails that focused on online, continuing education. These people were directly invited to enroll as a member and sign up for a class.
- People whose membership has lapsed in the last 7-24 months were sent emails that focused on enhancements and improvements that had been made to membership. In addition, they were encouraged to "take another look" at the association.
- People in the first group had email open rates of 40%, while the second group's open rate was 33%. Overall, the campaign resulted in 800 members rejoining the association.
- An important component of the overall campaign was the testing that took place prior to launching the final campaign. This involved changing the messaging, using more personalization, and varying the length of the message in order to determine what was most effective.
National Association of School Nurses (NASN)
- The National Association of School Nurses was looking for a way to increase membership and renewals. The group had a tool at their disposal which allowed for easier segmentation of their target market.
- SchoolNurseNet is the NASN's online community, which is mainly for members, but also has some content available to non-members. Using the data collected from members and from non-members who had visited the site. With this data, two segments were created, one of members who had recently let their memberships lapse, and another for any non-members that had visited the online community in the last 6 months.
- By targeting recently lapsed members with a message that the association didn't want to lose them, they saw a 32% conversion rate of members rejoining the association.
- For non-members, a single email resulted in a 7.8% conversion rate.
- The campaign also sent a couple other emails that were targeted to different segments, and the conversion rate of these ranged from 6.7% to 10%.
- We began our research by examining the archives of professional trade publications to uncover case studies on associations that had successfully improved engagement and/or membership using either their website, social media, or both. Publications searched included Associations Now and Associations Universe. While this brought up some promising results, including case studies from the American Association of Respiratory Care (AARC), the National Association of School Nurses (NASN), and the Colorado Cross Country Ski Association, digging deeper into the case studies found that either they didn't focus on websites and social media, or didn't focus on member engagement.
- Our next strategy was to find a list of large membership associations in the U.S. so we could then look for case studies on specific groups. This led us to a list published by Job Stars of Professional Associations and Organizations by Industry. Using this list, we conducted a more targeted search for case studies of some associations on the list, including the American Society of Admnistrative Professional (ASAP), Aerospace Medical Association (AsMA), American Society of Appraisers (ASA), Club Managers Association of America (CMAA), National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI), National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC), and many more. While this did allow us to find a 2013 case study on the website redesign of the AsMA, and information on a name change for the CMAA, we did not uncover any case studies with the particular focus of interest.
- Therefore, the case studies provided above focus on increasing member engagement and/or membership, but do not have a strict focus on using social media and websites to accomplish those goals.