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Six Big Questions on How Associations Engage Their Members

It’s the million-dollar question in association management.

In an era when member priorities are shifting, generational expectations vary widely, and anyone with a free Internet connection can get the benefits that used to come with paid association membership, what’s the future of member engagement?

At the Engaging Associations Summit in July, you’ll get a C-level view of this existential challenge from an organization that has done a great job of measuring member engagement, then using that market intelligence to build commitment in its target audience and sustain revenues.

The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) represents association meeting professionals who were hit hard by the economic downturn, and have long fought an uphill battle to demonstrate strategic value in the organizations that employ them. PCMA Chief Operating Officer Sherrif Karamat, a 20-year veteran of the meeting and convention industry, oversees all the organization’s revenue streams. So he has a keen interest in PCMA’s financial sustainability, and a clear view of what it takes to keep associations strong and successful.

“Fifteen years ago, associations deployed information to their members and served as the ‘fountain of knowledge,” Karamat said in a recent online interview. “Today, people don't necessarily need an association, because through social media, multiple individuals are connecting, sharing knowledge, and bypassing the central conduit—the association.

If associations fail to engage with stakeholders online, he warned, “your value will be diminished, and so will your brand.

Before Karamat’s presentation, Meagan Rockett will unveil results of Greenfield Services’ 2014 Pulse Report, a must-read annual review of association issues and priorities. This year’s Pulse Report asked six big questions about member engagement:

  1. What are your organization’s top three challenges when it comes to member engagement?
  2. Are you currently working toward a plan for engaging younger members, or do you already have one in place?
  3. How frequently do you follow members and other stakeholders on key social media platforms?
  4. What percentage of your members participate on your public social networks?
  5. What is the level of your members’ engagement with different association products and services?
  6. Are you looking at emerging membership models to customize the experience and attract new members?

Click here for more information on the Engaging Associations Summit, July 24-25, 2014 at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.