Is your member community failing? What you need to ask yourself.


Last month on the ASAE Membership listserv, the brilliant Cynthia D’Amour was answering a post about how to help build the participation on an internal member community. These are questions that I think are valuable for anyone with a member community to ask. I also think they are questions Associations should be asking themselves about their customer service or membership department as well. Included are a few tips & tricks that she’s learned over the years. Any comments of mine to help build context or add-on in blue below.

“Your age demographics do not play against you. In fact, they are the big
growth segment in social networking. (The person asking had a demographic of 30+ – 60+)

Bigger questions:

1. When I go there what’s going on? Is there energy? Conversations?
(When a member calls in, is there a good energy coming across that phone?)

2. If I ask a question does someone answer it? Like within 24 hours? Or
even the same day?
(If a member emails or calls/leaves a message, do they get their answer within THEIR time schedule. They can be different.)

3. If I show up a second time, has there been action since I was there
before? What if it’s next day? Or next week?
(If I haven’t opened a newsletter in awhile or visited the website, when I open it or go there is there new stuff for me or just the same old stuff recycled?)

I’ve been running an online community for a few years now. Here’s what
I’ve learned:

1. It’s easy to set up a community platform.
(It’s easy to have a membership department)

2. It’s labor intensive to get a community up and running.
(It takes dedicated staff to deliver good service)

3. Members have high expectations – like what they see in other
communities they may be active in.
(Members expect to see where their dues are going & what good it’s doing for them)

4. You’ve got to give members something they don’t get elsewhere. A
community for community sake is not enough.
(An association must provide value.)

5. Response rate and energy are huge! Stats say only 1 in 100 will be
active users. 9 in 100 may occasionally post.
(Listening & responding to members questions/complaints/comments makes them feel liked they have an association that is on their side.)

6. Dead zones are member repellents. No responses why bother coming
(If no one responds to my questions as a member, then what am I paying for?)

7. A community manager can be a big help in fueling energy. It’s not
enough to have staff occasionally post stuff.
(It takes a village, but sometimes having one person to funnel through is helpful.)

Hope this helps!


Cynthia D’Amour, MBA
Leadership Strategist
People Power Unlimited, LLC


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To me, these great questions are not just “social media/network” questions, they are questions about the way an association activates & engages their constituents. Community building is what associations do, whether online, at networking events or through inspiring volunteer leadership. We have an obligation as association professionals to make sure that the community is the healthiest it can be.



2 Responses to “Is your member community failing? What you need to ask yourself.”

  1. Nice job making the leap Lynn! You are on the mark. Happy to provide a little inspiration for your post.

  2. A lot of reasons I’m making those leaps is that we did customer service training at work and helped remind me of my roots in the association world – membership.

    We’re here to create an experience for our members, that’s what they pay for. So it is our jobs to do the best that we can.

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