Retention. It's a key indicator for most chambers of commerce and business associations. The factors that drive retention also drive just about everything else about the financial health and growth of your member-based organization. Revenue. Sponsorships. Event attendance. New member sales.
Higher retention means more satisfied members, more connected members and more word of mouth advertising for your organization.
And more fans.
Fans. Not just Facebook "fans," but someone who actually loves your organization and your staff and will tell other people about you. In his book, Purple Cow, Seth Godin calls your biggest fans "sneezers" because they are so enamored with your company that tell others about your products and services and help spread your ideas.
How do you get more fans faster? Social media!
Think about how hard it would be to increase the number of true (raving) fans your chamber of commerce or business association has by hosting great events or sending out great newsletters. Yes, you can use member segmentation, mass customization and personal service to deliver targeted, relevant information to your members, but events, newsletters, phone calls and face-to-face meetings are relatively infrequent compared to how you can use social media.
Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and others all help you tell your story with more personalization, more frequently, more immediately and in more places. And these social media tools allow your members to help you tell your story WAY more than your events or newsletters do. (Word of mouth advertising). Having more fans helps you build more momentum and improve retention even more since they can now all help you in your efforts.
Social media allows you to share more information than ever before without spamming your members. They've voluntarily chosen to follow you, read your content or join your group. They can reply, ask questions or share your content with others.
By tagging or mentioning your members in your content, you're giving them something to talk about. You're giving them a reason to share your content with their networks. Of course, you should include sharing links (such as those at the top of this post) on your blog and website so your members can easily share your news.
This blog and many others are full of great examples of non-profit organizations, chambers of commerce and business associations using social media to actively engage their members and prospects and create an entirely new fan base. I've seen great examples of members in a community reposting information about their chamber of commerce or association, writing blog posts about the organization's events and even creating videos on YouTube about their chamber of commerce.
You can't do it with social media alone, though.
You must provide real benefits and demonstrate your value to your members using all of your communications tools. You must ask for their input and respond.
Listening, learning, adapting, and sharing their stories helps you improve retention and all the other things listed above.
And, great membership management software can help you record and track information about your members to help you communicate your value more effectively.
But, social media lets you do this all faster and on a much larger scale. So, go improve retention! (And get more fans.)