Approaches to member engagement: it’s a two-way street

An engaged membership is essential in securing a society’s position in the future, but how do you develop an effective engagement strategy?

Based on a recent presentation at the Society Street Conference last month, Lynne Miller talks about the importance of developing an emotional connection with your members, to drive engagement.

Engagement is the emotional fabric that drives a society’s success, but all too often we hear of society members who question the benefit of the society, they feel a lack of communication, and a sense of ‘not belonging’.

Members demand more than traditional affiliation. They want engagement – they want to feel they belong with you. Members that are actively involved, appreciate the value they receive much more. So, how can a society generate enthusiasm and energy for members to be involved, and create and communicate a vision that they want to be a part of – helping them get involved?

I see engagement as an emotional attachment to a society, that motivates you to be active, energetic and an advocate, and for societies it’s about creating a long-term relationship – ensuring that you get the most value outof your members, and they get the most value out of your offerings. A two-way street, not a one way road.

Members renew because of job requirements or society offerings, but they also renew for feelings of connection and engagement. They want to feel part of something larger than themselves. It’s as much about the heart as it is the head, and developing an emotional tie to your society – feeling part of a network and agreeing with the society’s overall mission is key.

Your society brand isn’t a logo or a statement, it’s the set of perceptions, feelings, and associations that individuals have when they think about your society. What do they think and feel when they see your society logo, attend a meeting, access content, or engage in any way with your society? Everything you do impacts how you are perceived.

Your brand is the sum of your member’s perceptions and it’s constantly evolving based on their engagement with your programs, products and services.

Brand connects to your audiences both intellectually and emotionally. There’s a belief “things could be much better” or “we’re in this together”. It’s about developing a relationship that members find powerful and feel inspired to support, and then connecting with them, as:

  • Individuals – the more you know about your members, you can tailor your communications accordingly.
  • Continuously over time – instead of one-off campaigns, it should be a natural continuous conversation with your members. Loyal members are positioned to become advocates of your society, which is why engaging with members throughout their lifecycle isn’t just about individual value – it’s also about the value of their networks.
  • Everywhere they are – online and offline, email, social media, society website. Delivering a consistent experience, and weaving a brand story – a narrative that runs through all your messages.

Developing an engagement strategy should start with an understanding of where you are now – how you’re viewed by your members, and what your unique attributes are. To create a more distinctive way of communicating your membership offering, explore the emotional benefits of membership: what it really means to your community to be a member of your society.

If you would like to talk to Lynne about developing an engagement strategy for your membership, then please get in touch with her at +44 (0) 1865 875896 or via email at