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  • Membership matters (Weekly blog, 15 July 2018)

    Posted on July 16, 2018
    A blog by Catherine Leonard, Secretary-General

    Last week, I went to a membership engagement conference organised by the Association of Association Executives.  Engage 2018 sought to explore key issues in membership development and provide an opportunity to connect with people in similar roles to mine.   I attended the Associations Congress at the end of last year (as outlined in my blog) and it was a great learning experience.  Engage 2018 was also really useful, particularly around membership segmentation and engagement. Obviously membership of an association or umbrella body like INTO is different from membership of a National Trust or heritage society.  But there were a few common themes which I thought I would share here.

    Membership segmentation

    David Douglas of Membership Matters opened proceedings with a talk about developing your member engagement strategy and value proposition.   What stood out for me was the importance of segmentation.   This is basically a means of breaking down your customer base into manageable groups.  We don’t do that yet at INTO but I definitely want to try now!

    The National Trust of England, Wales and Northern Ireland’s segmentation model is described quite nicely on this website.

    Ten years ago, they discovered that whilst most of the population thought the National Trust was “a good thing” a much smaller proportion saw it as “their thing”.  It therefore wanted to focus on improving visitor experience in order to help engage and retain supporters.  To do this, the Trust embarked on a major programme of audience research. It sought to better understand people’s motivations, what they wanted to see and experience at a Trust place.

    What emerged were seven attitudinal-based segments that helped describe what people were seeking to gain from their days out. The model helped articulate whether visitors were seeking, for example, social or intellectual experiences.  Whether their motivations were about esteem or about cognitive need, as well as practicalities of a visit. Whilst including some demographic data, for illustrative purposes, the model included segments’ interests, hobbies and media preferences to paint a rich picture of who National Trust visitors really were.

    David Douglas’ presentation gave some good ideas of how to develop an INTO membership engagement plan based on personas.  Watch this space!

    Powerful video and social media

    Elizabeth Fisher-Robins of ITN Productions shared some amazing facts about the engagement capacity of video.   Videos are 12 times more likely to be watched than text is to be read.  65% of people are visual learners.  One minute of video is the equivalent of 1.8 million words.  The stats and science behind why video works is compelling.   But it’s not all plain sailing.  The impact of a bad video on your brand can be very high.  And it is essential to think about your audience and platform.

    We had some interesting activities and other workshops followed a great briefing on social media by Miguel Neves of Social Media Chefs.  He too had some startling data from about social media use.   Here are his top tips:

    1. What’s in it for me? Connect with your members where they are.  Don’t be too ‘on brand’.   Use social media to engage – content is optional.
    2. Frictionless – Make it as easy as possible.
    3. Offer guidance – Like “Take your selfie here”.  Tell people what the hashtag is and why they might want to use it.
    4. Know your tools/channels – Use buffer to schedule social media and tools to make videos like clipomatic

    Meanwhile, back at the office …

    Starting the week with a bunch of new ideas, new contacts and connections is great.   But a day out of the office always has its down sides and you can feel like you’re playing catch-up.  This week I had a good discussion with Herita in Belgium who will be hosting our next Conference in 2021.  A day in London with Justin Albert, the NTEWNI’s Trustee on the INTO Board.  A conversation with Alice Macaire about a possible project in Iran.  Update calls with Bill and Oliver, who is recovering from his recent knee surgery.  Working on our EU project, follow up from New York, preparing a funding application and arranging to meet various overseas visitors amongst other things filled the rest of my week!

    Thanks for reading!

    Find out more about membership in our publication ‘From Start-up to Sustainability’ An INTO Handbook for Heritage Trusts

    You can read an earlier blog about membership here

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