Every night before I let myself fall asleep, I (admittedly) scroll through my Twitter feed to catch up on the most recent day’s events. Twitter is my preferred means of catching up on the latest happenings as it provides me with the capability to quickly scroll through a sea of headlines and instantly acquire more information about the content that I am interested in. In other words, it lets me efficiently filter through the information that I find important, and effortlessly disregard unengaging posts.
It just so happens that while looking through my feed the other night, an article written by Association Now’s Joe Rominiecki caught my attention. The article, titled “Your Members Need Help With Information Overload,” isolated an important challenge that each and every association faces today: managing the amount, and quality of, information members receive every day.
As I work with member-based associations, I made an instant connection between the specific challenge outlined in this article, and the obstacles that I first-handily witness these organizations face. Naturally, I thought it imperative to share the invaluable takeaways with you.
The mass amounts of information that your members have at their fingertips, coupled with the plethora of sources it comes from, can be overwhelming. From internet to television to old school print newspapers, each and every one of us are buried under a mountain of new information on a daily basis. Thus, in order to cope with (and organize) this never-ending flow of new content, we have created filters that innately permit and block certain material from entering into our immediate knowledge base. Just as I choose to interact with specific Tweets on Twitter, your members are choosing to engage with a limited amount of information that touches and/or reaches them daily.
The key question association executives need to ask themselves is whether or not they are a source of information overload, or if they are a solution to the problem. More specifically, they need to ask themselves if they are becoming an effective curator of the information that is most valuable to their members.
As associations are social organizations by nature, many association executives fall into the trap of talking with their members vs. engaging their members. While to some, these two verbs may be interchangeable, there is a key difference within their definitions. If you are talking with your members, you are exchanging ideas and information; however, if you are engaging your members, you are attracting (and retaining) their attention with the information and ideas that you share. The important thing to understand is that merely "talking" is often synonymous with taxing your members with undesirable content, thus making you an active contributor to the aforementioned problem.
In order to engage your members in today’s ever busy and over communicated environment, you must master the task of curating information. Your role as a curator is to identify those things most relevant to your members and effectively communicate them from that perspective. Remember some of your members, like me, will start their morning, or end their evening, engaged in Twitter, while others will jump on LinkedIn, Facebook, or even bury their nose in the traditional print newspaper. Each of these outlets gives you a different way to curate information, and each of them will help you connect with your audience in a different way.
So, take a moment to think about your association’s current communication and strategy. Are you curating information that showcases your expertise within your industry? Moreover, are you curating content that resonates with the interests of your members, and sharing it via their preferred means of communication?