The Importance of Defining Content for Member Engagement

By Melinda Adamec • July 11, 2022

In a digital landscape, content is king. According to Pew Research, 26% of adults are almost always online and 77% of adults go online several times, daily, to read and watch content. Associations are not immune from the need to produce compelling content as part of a well-thought-out content marketing plan. But, creating content for members first requires a strategic approach that hones in on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain the member audience. So, it’s important to get the ducks in a row before creating and sharing content, as opposed to just haphazardly throwing out whatever is available at random times. Don’t forget that the point of leveraging content is to ultimately drive member engagement, member growth and non-dues revenue

How to Define Content for Your Association

Content comes in many fashions for associations, from education items and videos to career advocacy guides, blogs, newsletters and more. And, if associations want to retain members — and add more of them — they need to first define what content is best to share. Dispensing this content in the right way, with the right tone, and at the right time are also vital keys to what makes successful content. An association’s content naturally brings value to its members. The goal is to have your members gain insights and knowledge — and your members actually want that content because it keeps them engaged with your association. After all, that’s why they became members in the first place.

There are several questions to first ask so that your association can effectively develop content that harnesses its best attributes and creates maximum impact. The answers to these five questions will provide the framework to build a solid content strategy and, thereby, offer quality content that members appreciate and value.

1. Who will be reading your content? 

Is your content for members only or are you appealing to a broader industry audience? Diversifying content and channels of delivery will help associations customize their content to each persona. Streaming video services, including Netflix, do not only have one type of movie to offer but many genres and styles to offer a variety of personas based on diverse preferences. Knowing these details will help make the process of creating content easier and allow the tailoring of the message to suit the personas.

2. How does this content help my members?

When creating content, reflect on whether your content aims to meet one of four main goals: Does it entertain, persuade, inspire or educate your audience? Every piece of content should always have one of the four at the forefront. The content should tactfully engage members so they come to rely on the association’s insights and wisdom. It should also reinforce the solution so that it, in turn, builds credibility. This approach is known as thought leadership.

3. What qualifications does the association bring?

An association should want to highlight the attributes that make them uniquely qualified as an expert within the industry. Members and potential new members should want to engage with the content and trust the association’s authority and knowledge. This is the chance for associations to prove they’re worth listening to. Whether the association is the longest-standing one in the industry, has the most members or has some unique qualifier, it’s important to strategically emphasize those credentials and let them permeate consistently throughout all of the content mediums.

4. What types of content will be created and where will they be published? 

Association members are the audience that the content is created for — members come together in the same industry because they value the association’s mission. When speaking to your members, you want to know what their interests are, where they are engaging the most with your association, and then decide on the best format to reach them. Associations need to become students of their member audience and understand the engagement metrics so that they can determine if they prefer long-form or quick-hit videos, webinars or in-person education, blogs or whitepapers.

5. Who will manage the creation of content and its publication? 

Who is creating each piece of content? Where will it be published? What days and times will the content be rolled out? These are the questions that need to be answered as content plans are developed — ahead of time! Establishing an editorial calendar is a great first step. From there, individual tasks can be assigned and delegated. When there are multiple teams involved, it’s almost more work coordinating everyone than it is to create the content.

Taking the time to establish the framework from these answers will draw more robust audience engagement, a loyal readership and affirm the members’ trust in the association.

The Right Content for Your Association 

Regardless of an association size, the right content and strategy matter. Developing a smart strategy for content and following the right processes for creating and deploying the content is important whether you have 100 members or 100,000. Every association should take an informed and measured approach so that the content hits its specific, intended audience. Developing content for your association’s member base can be simple by first starting to ask the above five questions and implementing them from start to finish. The information you gain from these questions will be a guiding star so that you can take your content in different, unique directions and in a multitude of formats without losing the appropriate direction for your member base. It doesn’t have to be the best content anyone has ever read or watched, but it does have to be the right content for the audience to make the most impact.

If you have the dedicated team to produce great content and follow best practices, you’re already on your way. However, if you need help, this process doesn’t have to be done alone.  Naylor is here to help. Our dedicated marketing team creates dynamic and effective content and content marketing strategies for associations in any industry. 

To learn more about how Naylor can help you develop a custom-tailored content plan, reach out to our team today and request a meeting.