In the pre-pandemic world, the extent of many associations’ community engagement was their annual in-person convention. According to software company JUNO, this equated to associations existing “on peaks while surviving in valleys. The in-person annual convention served as the ultimate calendar pinpoint, with programming, volunteering, and marketing pushing up to that date,” according to JUNO’s “From Here to 365,” a new guide for membership associations.
The guide was created to help associations avoid the inevitable falloff in engagement from members — a frequent post-convention occurrence, JUNO said — by continuing a yearlong conversation. “Associations that put an emphasis on year-round content, networking, and experiences are able to level out the peaks and elevate the valleys into lush ecosystems for 365-day community engagement and connection,” according to the guide.
Many organizations have adopted such an approach during the COVID-19 pandemic when in-person events were not possible, but the guide offers suggestions to continue this regular engagement even when physical events return, such as developing consistent virtual networking and educational opportunities. These might include hosting roundtable discussions twice monthly; monthly, themed networking events with discussion-based questions to help guide the conversation; and fun experiences, like wine tasting, every month. Offering this kind of a variety of options will appeal to different kinds of members. Associations can also offer regular educational content, such as monthly micro courses and repurposed long-form content, depending on members’ needs.
“Once you have a solid understanding of the content you can leverage, you can incorporate both variety and consistency to strategically map out the topography of your event landscape,” JUNO said, “to keep members engaged, connected, informed, and delighted.”
JUNO’s full e-book guide, which is free to download, also provides questions for association leaders to explore — including, How often do you create content across your organization? How are members generating content that could become solutions for others? — that can help them craft a successful virtual engagement strategy.
Casey Gale is associate editor of Convene.