Fiona O'Connor
Fiona O'Connor
Society Marketing, Wiley

Some members join a society for the career benefits, while others want access to content, but most of all, people join a society for the community. The strength of community is most often felt at annual meetings, but it must be nurtured throughout the year with meaningful communication.


Staying in contact with your members not only keeps them up-to-date on events and news, but also keeps them engaged, and further emphasizes the value your organization offers. If members cannot recognize the value your society brings to their professional lives, they may choose to leave—15% of those who left a society in the past year identified a lack of communication as the key reason.

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Members join a society for a variety of reasons and want to hear about all different aspects of their community. To ensure that you’re meeting your members’ needs, make sure all communications highlight diverse themes and topics and sound human and personal.

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Overall, members want a little bit of everything, from social media to monthly emails. While members identified publishing research as the most important activity for societies, 52% said it was important that their society maintains an active large social media presence.


How do you successfully reach your members?


Don’t be afraid to experiment!


Over half of members are “generalists”, meaning that they prefer to be communicated with through several methods rather than just one. Monthly emails could keep the most at-risk members engaged, while social media can appeal to early career researchers. Track your success with different tactics to determine what’s working well and what can be changed or improved upon.


The power of research


Seventy percent of members report actively reading their association’s publication and those who actively engage with journal content are also more likely to recommend their organization to their peers. By consistently featuring research content in communications, you’ll encourage all members to engage with it regularly.


Consider future members


While it’s important to effectively communicate with current members, it’s also essential to explore what methods will attract future generations. In our factor analysis, 51% felt targeted media, such as a magazine or blog, would help to recruit early career researchers. Others thought focusing on career benefits (24%) like educational materials or tools would help reach the next generation, and 13% suggested working closely with universities to engage students. Social media is also important, as 11% felt social media, both in research-related platforms, like ResearchGate, and on traditional platforms, such as Twitter, would help engage future members.