5 Killer Ways to Build a Year-Round Community for your Association

Building year-round community with members is tough. Your members are busy and have lots of other things on the go. But maybe you’re ignoring the one tool that could make all the difference: mobile.

building year-round communityLet’s face it. We’re all a little addicted to our smartphones. When they buzz, we react. And usually much faster in comparison to other forms of communications. Robbie Kellman Baxter, the author of the Membership Economy found 91% of all adults have their phones within arms reach, every hour of every day. And 90% of us respond to text messages within 3 minutes of delivery!

If this is true, if we can hardly put down our phones, then why aren’t more associations using mobile for building year-round community? For instance, if you have an annual event and use a mobile app to communicate during the event, why not use your app after the event is over and continue to engage members? As PCMA’s article recently put it: “it’s time to think bigger about our mobile apps”. Below are a few mobile-driven strategies for building year-round community.

Strategy #1: Double Down on Networking Opportunities


According to a recently released survey by Member Zone, networking is the #1 reason members join an Association. Networking is also one of the main ways to build a strong community. Of course, face-to-face meetings are one of the most effective ways to build connections, but a mobile app will help you double down on those encounters by making them last beyond the event.

For example, using a mobile app, members can see who is attending an event and reach out privately or within the group chat. You can also start a conversation in group discussions to get other members interested in the same topic and chatting with each other. Finally, no more hunting down members in the website directory only to find out their email is out of date! Everything and everyone can be found in the mobile app. Building year-round community will never be easier.

Strategy #2: Keep Members Hooked with Mobile Games

building-year-round-community-gamificationGames are fun, motivating, highly addictive and super engaging. They can also be a great way to educate your membership. For example, one of our clients started a year-round game called: “How well do you know your Association?” Each time a member answered a question correctly, they accumulated points and top members were featured on the mobile app leaderboard. The points stacked up and by the end of the year the top 3 members with the most points earned a free membership. What a great way to increase member engagement and achieve renewal goals in one shot!

Pro Tip: Gamification requires a very well thought-out strategy. Check out our Ultimate Guide on Gamification to get the results you need for membership success.


Strategy #3: Make Members Feel Valued with Q&A, Surveys and Polls

According to the book “Managing the Membership Experience” by Mark Levin and Sue Froggatt, the most successful associations are member-centric. This requires constantly gathering feedback, taking in concerns, and asking members (in an ongoing way) how they feel about your programs, events and overall membership.

year-round-community-building-pollsSomething like an Association App (a mobile app that extends year-round) will help you easily gather member feedback. For example, you can set up a permanent Q&A section; send out regular surveys, or have members participate in a poll to gauge their thoughts on a new program or topic. Doing all this via the mobile app makes it more convenient for members to engage on-the-go. Your members will love that you are making a continuous effort to include their feedback, increasing their loyalty and building a stronger sense of community.

Strategy #4: Stop Sending Emails and Use Push Notifications

year-round-community-pushnotificationsDid you know that an average person gets 122 emails per day at work? That’s a lot of email. If your primary way of communicating and engaging with members is email, you’re competing with all those other messages in their inbox. But again, with something like an Association App, you can send push notifications rather than emails to let members know about important updates or events. This allows you to cut through the clutter and reach members where they are: on their mobile phones. Also, push notifications typically have a 3x higher click through rate than email, so by adding this channel to your communications strategy you’re bound to see higher engagement in your community.

PRO TIP: Just like email, you don’t want to over send push notifications. Use them wisely and make sure they add value to your members.

Strategy #5: Put all Your Events in One Place

year-round-community-building-eventsNothing beats real life events for building relationships and community. The problem is, getting members to attend smaller events throughout the year is always a struggle. Your workshops, training/educational sessions, fundraising events, networking sessions, board meetings and more, all provide members with incredible value.

By putting your events into one, mobile-friendly place, you and your members will gain a few benefits. First, by promoting one event you’re effectively promoting all of your other events at the same time. Alternatively, if a member misses a meeting, they can access the resources within the same app and review the materials at a later time. Everything is in one central location, accessible on-the-go and a more convenient solution than tracking down emails, contacting your organization, or digging through the website for relevant information.

Next Steps for Building Year-Round Community with Mobile

These five mobile strategies for building year-round community are just the beginning. If you want to learn more about how mobile enables a better overall member experience, download our whitepaper: Driving Member Engagement Through Mobile: A Step-by-Step Guide. After following the steps in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to having a fully integrated mobile strategy and a thriving, engaged community of members.