Online Communities: a Flexible Member Engagement Tool

Joe DePumpo | | December 18, 2020

Creating an entire suite of options for member engagement is critical. Diversifying the ways that your members can interact with you and other members drastically increases the value of their membership. An online community provides the perfect space for your members to discuss their challenges and successes, ask questions, and keep up with developments in your industry.

Engage different segments of your membership

The benefit of member forums is that they provide a flexible platform for your members to have a wide variety of organic discussions that relate to their specific interests. Unlike a webinar, which focuses on a particular topic, community forums can cater to your entire membership body and their particular interest.

Not only can your members engage with their specific interests, but it gives you the opportunity to cultivate engagement among particular segments of your membership. Your forums can be welcoming for new members with a dedicated thread to them, it can provide opportunities for established members with a networking thread, it can provide a resource for crowdsourced industry news and knowledge. The fundamental advantage of a forum for your members is its flexibility—it allows you to create spaces for segments of your membership and let them drive the discussions that engage them.

ClearVantage’s forum platform allows your members to subscribe to any threads they wish. Once subscribed they will receive an email with the text of new posts in that thread, and a link to make their own contribution. This keeps members engaged with topics they are interested in, without overwhelming their inboxes.

Let your members build a valuable information hub

This flexibility is what allows forums to become such valuable resources to your members. They can become a one stop shop for your members to discuss problems and solutions, gain insights from industry veterans, and fresh perspectives from outside their organization. It makes your community a valuable source of information that may be hard to get anywhere else.

Not only can members post late breaking news that effects your industry, ask questions, discuss solutions, and more. It provides the opportunity for announcements and news to not just be informational, but actionable.

Our online community platform makes this process even more easy. The recent activity section gives you options to display to your members the latest actions taken across the community, including new members, recent connections made between community members, newly posted thoughts, recent member activity, and more.

Provide networking opportunities for existing members and a welcome to new ones

Members of professional membership organizations who were surveyed in the study say that networking is one of the top 10 most important benefits that their organization provides. For those early in their career, networking ranked in the top five most important benefits.

Networking opportunities are consistently one of the major benefits that members cite of their association. As in-person networking opportunities have become limited, forums provide a great opportunity to facilitate these interactions within your community. The ability to create threads by member type or by topic area ensures that you can foster connections between members in a similar part of their member journey, or who are interested in a particular challenge facing your industry. These connections will motivate them to keep coming back to engage.

The ClearVantage online community platform includes the option of an online directory for your members to search for and engage with other member profiles. This makes one-on-one networking that much easier for your members.

Learn more about the ClearVantage Online Community here.

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