Members area, protected area, community page...
... are all synonyms. Essentially it is an online communication channel dedicated to organisation’s members, stakeholders and community. It facilitates meeting management, documents sharing, team work, message boards and networking.
Community management goal is to keep members active and engaged with organisation’s activities. Thus it builds a stronger bond between association and members, while providing added value to everyone in the community.
Challenges of launching a successful members area
The challenge is to setup the members area in such way that it is motivating and easy enough for users to interact with each other through the platform. If not done properly, the engagement within the community will not happen on the necessary scale and over time, your stakeholders will simply ignore the platform, making it obsolete and meaningless.
To spark the interaction and give life to the members area, make sure to do following:
- Organise people into communities. Every project, committee board should be represented as an individual community. People can be members of multiple communities.
- Streamline the communication channels. By having fewer, more general channels of communication, your community will appear more active to new users and therefore encourage new users to participate.
- Embrace private messaging and networking. Allow people to explore other members of the community, do the networking and exchange private messages.
- Avoid forums. Due to over-categorisation of content, forums require hundreds of active users to be perceived as “active”. Forum as a concept is obsolete due to the development of more efficient channels of communication.
- Integrate message boards. It is a simple and clear channel for users to discuss a wide range of topics, share documents, media and other resources.
- Keep everyone up-to-date with automatic email notification. Do not assume that people will just login to the Members area every now and then to check for updates. System must pursue the members constantly and lure them into engagement with the community.
- Marketing your members area heavily. First month after the launch of the new community platform is critical for association to spark the interaction and engagement. React fast and provide support to the users in order to help them build their trust into the communication platform.