Bringing your members in to engage (and getting them to stay) is the ultimate goal, right? Organizations dream about bustling online communities, forums, websites and email digests. But what if you’re bringing members to an outdated platform that isn’t user-friendly? It’s time to think about updating, and bringing some cohesion and design to your online presence.
Not only a must for organizations, a compelling web presence has also evolved as a place to interact and collaborate with your audience–why direct people to several different places to have the same conversation? Gone is the practice of maintaining vertical channels–your organization’s website, social channels, events and online community all want and need to be connected.
The process of achieving one collaborative, cohesive space can (and for most organizations, should) be incremental. Are your social channels tied to your website, so members can easily share, like and tweet relevant information quickly? Have you connected email digests to current discussions and event registrations within your online community or website? (Or better yet, can your members reply directly in their emails to discussions happening online?) Shifting to a more seamless experience is a process that takes time and is different for every organization.
Here are a handful of tips to help make that shift toward a remarkable online experience, whether you’re just trying to connect your social channels, or you’ve decided to combine your online community and website into one bustling hub of engagement.
- Build a user friendly website that resonates with your organization’s mission. Things like a design refresh with new logos and simple navigation will effectively support your members, industry and target audience. Some of our favorite examples are the Coin Laundry Association’s new site and SAE International’s Member Connection community site.
- Provide easy mobile access on any device-allow your members full access to your website any time of the day or night, from anywhere in the world, on any device. Mobile makes a big difference, whether you’re responding to a discussion on the train home or easily checking things out during an event. Research shows an estimated 1.2 billion people are checking their mobile devices roughly 150x per day!
- Deliver a compelling user experience with responsive functionality that allows your content to virtually adapt to any context in which it’s viewed. Part of a good web presence is seeing and interacting with the brand within any environment. It’s always an intuitive, clean user experience. Responsive web design helps you keep that brand consistent and compelling for users with every visit.
- Create valuable content and promote information sharing. This isn’t new, but rather tried and true advice—develop a growing content hub comprised of industry and product advice, discussions and best practices. What are your members craving in terms of industry news and resources? Create and place that content where members can easily find it.
- Build a secure collaboration space that provides easy access to network. Give your community members a place to collaborate and discuss hot topics of the day. A private online community puts the power of collaboration into your members’ hands. Other alternatives include interconnected social channels or a website with resources like live chats, webinars and comment sections.
- Empower your audience by sparking conversations and encouraging members to share experiences. The conversations are already going on, so allow your best advocates to speak on your behalf.
Your website and your members’ interactions should not be in separate silos. The two can work together in a cohesive online environment where information and resources are constantly circulated. The ideal online experience can be achieved by bringing your collaborative networks together.