The world is full of constant content overload with organizations trying to get their message and brand in front of an ever-changing audience. Sometimes it can be an overly daunting task to repeatedly craft new material without knowing if it will stick and resonate. Associations, nonprofits, and foundations alike have a particularly hard road to navigate as marketers at mission-driven organizations need to engage members, donors, and non-members to grow and retain their numbers. It doesn’t always have to fall on your organization’s shoulders to craft the next trendsetting blog post, the next unique recruitment campaign, or the next viral social media post. What if your members, donors, and industry professionals could help create content that drives traffic to your brand?
As you already know, your members and brand champions are the leaders in your industry doing incredible work without much publicity. A way to change this is to have your organization be the focal point and the vehicle that highlights their work. Member stories allow for inspirational content, which can go viral on social media platforms. But, how do you find these stories? Let them come to you.
The Grant Professionals Association (GPA) uses an online Google Form and supplementary hashtag (#GrantsWork) to collect and share member stories online that impact their industry. The GPA set up a webpage called, #GrantsWork Success Stories that is constantly updated with new submissions from their members announcing new grant awards, which will be applied to improve countless industries, communities, education initiatives, environmental challenges, the list goes on.
Not only does this provide exposure and value to the profession, but it creates a sense of community, belonging, and positive brand experience for their members, which in turn increases retention rates. From a high school lunch program that helps impoverished teens at a community church to a collaborative rain garden that protects the Mississippi river from pollution, #GrantsWork is a prime example of real-world actions that add authenticity to a brand and recognition to an entire group of grant professionals.
“Instituting a member storytelling program does not take much leg work or web development, and it can pay off in dividends down the road with engagement rates, gaining new members, and keeping retention numbers high.”
The National Association of Bond Lawyers (NABL) employs a similar concept with their hashtag, #BuiltByBonds. Their members are municipal bond lawyers who further the infrastructure goals of municipalities by helping local governments finance the building of roads, bridges, airports, seaports, schools, and hospitals. As part of NABL’s 40th anniversary, they are asking their members to submit a project that was “built by bonds.” Members are encouraged to submit such a project and every week NABL highlights one of their members’ submissions. They also make sure to include the project photo, the name/type of project, city, state, and the date it was completed as well as the attorney’s name and firm in the post.
As you can see, instituting a member storytelling program does not take much leg work or web development, and it can pay off in dividends down the road with engagement rates, gaining new members, and keeping retention numbers high. It is also a good reminder for the executives in your industry to take a step back from all of the deadlines and to truly remember the important work that they tackle day in and day out.
If you want to take it a step further and develop a marketing campaign around member stories, take a page out of the Toy Association’s playbook. They are holding an open call for members to submit personal statements and recordings of their favorite memories over the year with toys in a campaign dubbed, Generations of Play, an Oral History. What makes this campaign even more compelling is that the selected stories will be featured in the Library of Congress in the American Folklife exhibit. And to make it even more enticing, the 15 chosen stories will be recorded at the Toy Association’s annual conference next year in a 45-minute Q&A session in our nation’s capital.
This is a perfect example of how to increase your content strategy and boost recognition of your brand to the world by adding in a competition element to your member storytelling campaign. On top of that, the submitted content can be repurposed in an editorial calendar long after the campaign ends. Repurposing your member content will allow you to fill in the holes of your content calendar with humanizing content that your members will surely want to digest.
Your organization’s heartfelt member stories can also be strong recruitment tools to drive traffic and overall, increase membership for an association. The American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) did just that with their campaign, “Why I Treat.” ASAM is the nation’s leading addiction medicine society and the team here at Beyond Definition helped develop this award-winning campaign to represent the benefits of healthcare professionals treating patients with addiction and the positive impact that treating it can have on a person, a family, a community, and a nation. The goal was to acquire new members by driving traffic to the whyitreataddiction.org microsite, which featured authentic, personable, and inspiring addiction treatment stories from their membership of healthcare professionals.
The key factor of this campaign was the landing page’s call to action approach, an approach that is not common with membership acquisition efforts. Instead of simply asking for money to join, or muddying the page with membership benefits, the call to action is “share your story.”
The campaign is purposely crafted to be a soft sell, the celebration of the individuals treating addiction patients on the site incline others to join. Since the campaign launched, over 150 stories have been collected, showing the campaign is not only engaging, but empowering to professionals who are ready to share their stories.
“The key factor of the “Why I Treat” campaign was the landing page’s call to action approach, an approach that is not common with membership acquisition efforts. Instead of simply asking for money to join, or muddying the page with membership benefits, the call to action is “share your story.”
If you want to start off a little smaller or if you’re not quite sure a member storytelling campaign is right for your organization at this time, then how about simply researching your members to seek out their recent successes.
The Association of Academic Physiatrists (AAP) did just that by setting up the hashtag, #MembershipMonday. AAP’s members are physical medicine and rehab doctors that are responsible for giving their patients a better quality of life as they recover from injuries such as traumatic brain and spine injuries which need a strong rehab approach. Their goal for this campaign was to raise engagement on social media within their membership by drawing attention to specific physicians, hospitals, and universities that have moved the physiatric needle in a positive way. Some examples of their posts would be recognizing members who have won awards, developed new rehabilitative technologies, received a grant, have scientific papers published in medical journals, or have received a promotion at their hospital or university, among many other successes.
With the start of a new year rapidly approaching, perhaps it is time to refresh your content strategy and engage your target audience in new ways. Need help getting started? Reach out to the team at Beyond Definition and we can get assist in developing content strategies to re-engage your members and point your organization forward in 2020.
*This post was written by a former member of the Beyond Definition team, Colin Hautman*