Member magazines, newsletters, external communication, association content is distributed through various channels. This makes it difficult for members to access all the information and does not correspond to the concept of Volunteering 4.0. In the future, almost all content can be presented in the membership platform.
Is the members’ magazine a relic of the past or an instrument of the future?
For many associations, the member magazine is still the most common way to enable members access to new developments and interesting articles about the association’s work. It can be done in different ways: either as a printed magazine, on a website or by e-mail. Depending on the format, the magazine introduces different problems. If you decide to print your member magazine, members always have to take a copy with them or receive them via post. This is inconvenient, costly and not very ecologically friendly. After all, a large part of your members already read the news via a computer or smartphone.
The next best solution is bringing the members’ magazine onto a website. What initially sounds like a good idea also has its pitfalls. Many websites are not designed for mobile use, i.e. reacting to the size of the particular device, and are therefore displayed incorrectly on smartphones and other mobile devices. This frustrates readers who only want to catch up on the latest news from the association while on the move. It also makes it difficult to control who has access to the members’ magazine. Basically, anyone can access the page. Adding a login reduces access, but also complicates things.
Reduce the flood of emails
What seemed to be in the spirit of digitalisation years ago, nowadays brings many pitfalls with it. Sending the membership magazine by email, maybe even as a PDF file doesn’t further the commitment and engagement of your members. It’s basically a slightly glorified newsletter without the interaction that makes the association engaging. It gets overlooked in between numerous other emails and is therefore often read. As a result, members complain about not being up-to-date. Some associations try to compensate by sending regular emails. Important topics are featured repeatedly to ensure all members have read them. But this reduces the relevance of every single future email the association sends out. A more engaging way would be to rethink your content mix and how your members access it. Combine the content from your member magazine with other news and data. Make it interactive and let members add their own posts, comments, and answers. This will create a living network that is represented by your membership platform. Members can access it via their web browsers, via mobile apps or – at a pinch – by email subscriptions to various topics. You can continue updating on a regular basis. But you can also react directly to a development and spontaneously write a post in the network. This makes a membership platform much more flexible than classic membership magazines or newsletter broadcasts.
How to transfer your member magazine into your member platform
1. Split the content
A member magazine will include a wide variety of topics and formats. This is supposed to ensure that every member can find value in at least some parts of the magazine. This rather broad approach stems from a magazine having to be created, printed and distributed. But creating and posting content on a member platform is much easier and distribution is basically free and done in an instant. Use your member extranet to bundle similar content together. This makes it easier for your members to discover very similar content to what they have enjoyed in the past. Create groups or channels for specific topics, regions, industries, job responsibilities or other categories that make sense to your members. Members will be more inclined to join, subscribe and return again and again if they can more precisely control what they see or get sent.
2. Include peer content
Don’t stick to the idea of top down content. Interviews with and profiles of other members are great reads but also a lot of work. The interactive nature of a member platform makes it easy for members to add insights, ideas and experiences to existing content. Promote and highlight this content so members can experience what the rest of your network is thinking and doing.
3. Mix up the content
The often more glossy nature of a magazine usually forbids simpler and spontaneously created content. In contrast to this a member platform can include a quick selfie from a trade fair with a special member or a photo of the preparations for an upcoming conference. This backstage content adds authenticity and makes the overall offering more interesting and approachable.
4. Add interactivity
Use the full potential of your platform. Create a poll asking about the confidence in a current development or let members vote on an upcoming agenda. Collect questions for an upcoming expert guest or collect best practices for a current challenge facing the majority of your members. These calls for participation create content that makes your network of members more visible and solidifies the association as the hub for connections and inspiring content.
Gradually replicate all content in the membership platform
Often, all your colleagues need is a good role model to show them how smooth communication can be on the platform. If you and part of the Sekretariat consistently share association content on the membership platform in the future, your members and colleagues will do the same. They will realise how other content can also be easily shared on the member portal. Votes are started via the survey tool and appointments are easily added to the calendar. Once the added value of the platform is understood, a large part of the communication of working groups and committees will take place here. When all this content appears in the membership platform, the network will become the cultural pillar of the federation. It will then be indispensable for the information requirements of the members and the foundation for interaction within the association.