Common membership content mistakes and how to avoid them

Forgetting what really matters to your members

This is a grave content sin, but it is forgivable. Let’s say a team in head office has secured a brilliant new partnership they believe will lay the foundations for the future direction of the organisation. Good for them. But if you can’t easily tell members what impact this will have on their lives or careers today, the story may fail to resonate. Put it as your main news story, and members could just flip straight past, or worse, abandon the whole communication. If you can’t make an organisational development immediately interesting and relevant to most members, think again about majoring on it until there’s a clearer message.

Letting your blog get stale

Someone says to a senior exec or your head of press: “You should write a blog and we’ll tweet a link out every fortnight.” The first one is easy – the writer enjoyed the novelty of writing in their own voice and it’s published on schedule. Members share it. But when the deadline for the next blog swings round again, the writer just about drafts it on time. By the third blog, the novelty has well and truly worn off, the writer just can’t find the time, and despite the good response from members, the trail goes cold. After six months your ‘latest blog’ is a dusty relic. If you’re going to start blogging, plan an appropriate and credible frequency and plan how you’re going to stick with it. The answer could be sharing the responsibility for drafting, or working with an external writer.

Not spending enough time on your intros

You dedicate time and money getting a magazine to your members’ doormats or inboxes. You’d like it if they read it from cover to cover. One way of increasing the chances of this happening is to ask every writer to draft five intros to each story they draft before choosing the best one. Their limit is 30 words and the aim is to give readers no excuse not to read on. What’s the very most interesting element of the story for the member? How can you summarise all the insights? There’s no shame taking time to craft those first 30 words. Because if you can’t hook readers in at the top of the show, the rest of the story will be wasted effort.

Not asking ‘What else can I do with this content?’

Possibly the biggest content mistake member organisations might fall into is not making the most of it. Good content takes up time and resource. So, if it goes into the print magazine, why not into a digital edition you can target at potential new members? Why not turn the president’s latest thought leadership piece into a blog? Why not post an event story to a special interest group in LinkedIn? Work with your press, marketing, and magazine teams to plan content with a view to re-using and repurposing it all for different channels. This way you’ll amplify your messages and boost your ROI across all your member comms channels.

Making it difficult for readers to take the next step 

You’ve done it all – crafted a great intro to lead into a relevant story that’s timely and has been deployed across multiple channels. It’s been widely read. Great! But have you made it easy for readers to build new connections and deepen engagement on the back of the content? Has the author included their LinkedIn details, have you cross-referred to archived papers, an upcoming event, a Facebook group? All good membership content makes it easy for members to do something else once they’re finished reading.

Helen Monkstakhar, Senior content editor – Century One Publishing

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