Are your members sticky?

Leigh Wintz

A few years ago, Patrick Spenner and Karen Freeman explored the idea of “stickiness” in the Harvard Business Review. For them, a consumer was sticky if they were “likely to follow through on an intended purchase, buy the product repeatedly, and recommend it to others.” One can easily make the leap from “consumers” to “members and stakeholders” in the association world. What can we learn from business about creating member stickiness and increasing a sense of community?

Marketers often believe that people interact with them on social media to join a community and feel connected to the brand. In reality, the top reason for connecting is to get information and to buy things.

  • Is your association a trusted resource for information and relevant products and services?
  • Is it easy to click through to what you need in social media messages or navigate your website or does one have to click through password protected barriers and then search again?

The rising volume of marketing messages via a variety of media is overwhelming. Rather than pulling customers into the fold, companies are pushing them away with relentless and ill-conceived efforts to engage. Most associations could never afford to purchase traditional media (TV, radio, print) but have embraced “free” internet and social media strategies. Social media strategies may not cost dollars, but having an active social media presence can be costly in terms of human resources. Just as with traditional (expensive) media, the use of (free) social media needs to be strategic.

  • Does your organization have an integrated strategy for communicating with members, customers and stakeholders without bombarding them with messages that have no relevance to their needs, wants or preferences?
  • Is staff clear about the role that your website and social media platforms play in implementing strategy to make progress on the goals and objectives of your strategic plan?
  • Are you accurately budgeting for staff and volunteer time to create and feed content into the system as well as evaluating and measuring outcomes?
  • Do you have a plan in place to measure the success of your social media strategies?

Over the past two decades, a wide range of experiments have shed light on how an excess of information and choice impairs decision making. Associations have to be mindful of not only what information they are sharing but how much information.

  • Is your association constantly scanning the environment to know who is providing similar or better information on certain topics than you are?
  • Are you duplicating information, products or services of related associations or your own components (entities above or below you such as chapters, national or international levels)?
  • Do you think of the internet as a “competitor” or have you learned the power of “co-opetition” (a combination of “cooperation” and “competition”)?

Follow us on Twitter and share your ideas about how to create member “stickiness” (likely to renew their membership or remain a customer) or sense of community (interact online or in person with others in the association).

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About the Author

Leigh Wintz

Leigh is a Principal Consultant with Tecker International. She has 25 years experience in association management. She has led international organizations and guided US organizations with international expansions. She has expertise in healthcare, hospital administration, fundraising and corporate sponsorship.