How to Connect and Engage with your Members during Lockdown
The Covid-19 lockdown has made it harder for organisations to engage with their service users and the same is true for student unions and our members. In many of our previous posts, we pointed out how important it is to stay consistent with your social media presence and find innovative and new ways to connect with your audience. This is why we compiled a list of ideas and strategies to help you stay in touch with your members and even increase your engagement for the following academic year.
This post is split into three major sections that we find to be really important to consider when creating your social media and communications strategy.
With face to face engagement out of the table, turning to social media might be the only way for fast and direct communication with your members. With the three pillars of effective social media content - high quantity, quality, and consistency - and the right messaging, you will already be on the right track for an increase in your social media engagement. Here are some additional tips and strategies to increase your engagement even more.
1. Provide useful insights and information
A great way to increase the value you provide your audience is by producing content that saves them time, energy, and money. Find out what they need and come up with ways to give it to them through your social media. From quick and easy information to free pizza promo codes and event invitations, make your social media accounts a go-to place for everything your members need.
2. Stay positive
In these hard times, you need to make sure that your posts have a positive messaging and outcome. This will make sure that your audience feels good engaging with your posts and want to keep in touch.
3. Provide entertainment
Other than fun challenges and entertaining posts, consider putting some effort into creating Quiz nights, giveaways, and contests for your members. Those positive experiences and entertaining content will be memorable to your members and most likely give them the incentive to engage with you post-lockdown. Do not be discouraged if you have a low amount of participation. Spreading the word through the internet is usually slower and requires more consistent efforts.
4. Give more... ask less
In marketing, and especially during these difficult times, it is advised to employ empathy and show your audience that you care about them. This is why we advise you to give and provide value to your members much more than what you ask for in return. In doing so you will be showing them that you understand the situation they are in and that you have their best interest in mind.
5. Be proactive
Even though lockdown increased the amount of time we spend online, it hasn't changed the attitude that people have towards their content consumption. The same rules apply with or without lockdown, which is why we think it's important to continue being proactive with your engagement. Replying to comments, messaging your members, and starting conversations are the actions that will lead you to start building your online community.
Other than your social media engagement, another way to come closer to your members during lockdown is to facilitate and build a community attitude amongst your members online.
1. Create spaces for your community
Firstly you can create spaces for your members to interact with each other and your organisation such as Facebook groups, virtual gatherings, and online themed meetups. By doing this you are not only enabling your members to engage in conversations but also promoting a collaborative and friendly atmosphere which is made to outlast the effects of the lockdown.
2. Show honesty, venerability, and transparency
These three attributes are of utmost importance if your goal is to create trust between your members and your organisation. Regularly produce content that gives updates about your organisation, and your strategies to make your members and your employees' lives better. Communicate clear expectations and allow yourselves to be honest and venerable. We are all going through tough times and you will seem more approachable and relatable to your audience if you are honest about your struggles.
3. Help your community with local initiatives
Other than trying to build communities from scratch, why not try and support already existing communities such as clubs and societies, local relief efforts and groups from separate academic areas. We are sure everyone needs all the support they can get just now.
4. Give your community a voice
The communities that you will build and support will not only need online spaces to communicate but also a voice that you can provide by leveraging your social media. Reach out to your communities and ask them if they need support in their efforts. You can also allow for user-generated content like promoting your members' artwork, music, or projects.
5. Re-imagine live events
Live events always have a way to bring people together. With everything shut, bringing people physically close might not be possible but you can still find innovative ways to unite everyone virtually, bringing them closer through events and exiting live content.
Other than your external communication, making some changes to how you operate and communicate directly with your members might be necessary.
1. Facilitate 1-2-1 support
With face to face unfortunately being unavailable, we recommend you open some direct communications for your members to have a confidential and direct one to one conversation with you just like your drop-in hours before the lockdown. Instant messaging platforms will really come in handy here and show how reliable your team can be.
2. Reorganise your services & content
This might be a good time to look at your members' needs and make changes or add services that they might find useful. From mental health support to the end of year exam advice, find our what your members might need and which ways you can help them.
3. Use all the communications channels you have
With all attention moving to online engagement why not consider diversifying your communication channels and adding platforms that better suit the needs of your members. A good example would be to start a TikTok account to host your funny and entertaining content.
Although this pandemic brings chaos and disruption to our organisations, it also gives us the time and opportunity to switch our operations and services online. Thanks to technology and tools, it’s possible to stay connected to our members even during lock-down.
Nothing lasts forever! Better days are coming and when everything is back to normal, it will be easier to find our feet if we work proactively.
Our Process Our writers spent 72 hours researching how to connect and engage with your members despite the pandemic. All of this research adds up to recommendations you can trust.