Looking beyond your sector: Five content tips for membership organisations
We all know the value of relevant and consistent content. It’s an excellent way to build brand awareness and drive engagement and retention – not to mention a strong foundation for social media campaigns, SEO and inbound marketing. Yet for membership organisations, it can sometimes feel like a challenge to produce content that is entertaining and engaging, which also remains faithful to the organisation’s mission and message. We believe that by looking outside of their sector and making a few simple changes, membership organisations can create more engaging, user-centred content that meets both organisational and user needs. Read on to find out our top five out-of-sector content tips for membership organisations.
1. Target and personalise.
Firstly, the type of user that will read your content – and their reason for doing so – is of paramount importance when planning which content types you create. Consider the habits, needs, lifestyles and motivations of your audience and target content at these personas. You should be looking to create an authentic connection with a clearly defined audience. A simple way to do this is to think about what your users’ interests are and what problems they are trying to solve through their interaction with your organisation. As a starting point, think about the information architecture (IA) of the site and consider sectioning content based on the broad themes under which your members or other stakeholders currently engage with you, for example accessing educational material, signing up for an event or looking for work-related advice.
Design should be front of mind whenever you create content. Thinking in this way can provide new insights into how to solve common business problems – a lack of engagement or low click-through rate for an advert could be equally to do with typeface and layout as the actual words on the screen. At the same time, look for missed areas to surface more visually appealing or entertaining content for users, for example on thank you pages and annual reports, even extending this design focus to internal documents to better engage your staff too. It should go without saying that your organisation is likely to have guidelines of some description here – stick to them! Consistency is important.
3. Expand the types of content you offer.
It’s important to create the right mix of content to meet user needs. Video content for example, though not appropriate in all scenarios, can be particularly effective in quickly engaging audiences, especially via social media. Equally, an online magazine or a YouTube channel might offer an opportunity to broaden the topics your content touches upon, at the same time giving a voice to the advocates amongst your members. Your main website is likely to have a particular brand identity and tone of voice that might be quite formal and professional. An online magazine or a YouTube channel offer new ways to engage through providing a diverse mix of content which might otherwise seem inconsistent if located all in one place on your website. A further benefit of both of these content types is that they provide the opportunity to sell advertising space, and can quickly become self-sustained through this – making a direct and visible contribution to your bottom line.
4. Start telling stories.
Storytelling is a powerful way to engage members. The things that matter to you are likely to be of equal importance to your membership base. Make the most of your common values by sharing inspirational stories that demonstrate the impact of your organisation’s work with members and in your industry. Within the membership sector, the BMA does this incredibly well with their ‘The Secret Doctor’ series of blog posts, with anonymous articles describing doctors’ first-hand accounts of life on the front-line of the NHS.
Looking beyond the membership sector, Starbucks created ‘Upstanders’, a 10-episode content series made up of short stories, films and podcasts which share the experiences of ordinary people driving change in their communities. It has nothing to do with selling coffee, but fits perfectly within their mission to ‘inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighbourhood at a time’, simultaneously providing engaging content and associating Starbucks with the positive outcomes of the stories features.
This kind of content doesn’t even necessarily have to come from your members or within your organisation – look to charities or causes you can partner with that share your values and objectives, and talk about what your support has helped them to achieve. And of course, use social media to get more creative with your promotion of this long-form content, for example through expanding it with a focus on images or videos.
5. Don’t just create content, curate it.
At the same time as creating your own content, become a content curator. This is especially useful if you don’t quite have the skills or time in-house to regularly create on your own. Set up some Twitter lists and Google Alerts and start following your industry’s publications, influencers and thought leaders. Share their content with your followers, adding your own comments and responses – the goal is to consistently provide non-promotional content that is valuable. Equally, stay up to date with the legal and political landscape and comment where appropriate, reinforcing the fact that your organisation is the place your members can turn to for expert guidance and support.
Content doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to be researched and planned to ensure that it remains consistent, targeted and relevant. Before you begin creating, make sure to establish clear rules for governance, ownership and key messages so that content stays aligned with your organisation’s mission and user needs.
If you want to find out more about how we can help you with planning your content strategy, get in touch.