Insight | 16 March 2021

Everything you need to know about social media for membership organisations in 2021

Tags: Digital Strategy | Performance & Optimisation

Three people sat on a bench facing a gallery of black and white photographs

When is come to digital marketing for the membership and association sector, there are unique challenges that must drive a tactical approach to their social media strategy.

Retention trumps new member acquisition

“It typically costs around eight times more to recruit a new member than it does to retain an existing one, so member retention should be high on every membership and association professional’s agenda.” Memberwise

Retaining members should be a membership organisation’s bread and butter, and social media should be used in a variety of ways to accomplish that. There are critical messages that you need to communicate:

Value of membership

Sometimes people don’t realise the true value of their membership to an organisation. It may be that they have to be a member as part of their professional career. Or they became a member a long time ago and have missed updates or forgotten about certain aspects to their membership. Remind them, regularly. Do you have compelling industry insights, offer union support, or offer tools designed to help them do their jobs more effectively? It would be wise to summarise these and even provide case studies showcasing how you’ve helped people fitting your ideal member profile. It will remind members as to the quality they’re paying for and reinforce what they expect from you.

Power of the network

If you can, you should emphasise the networking effect that joining your member community can have on the individual. Networks will add real value to your organisation and potentially be the differentiator compared to others in your space. Essentially, the more people in the network, the more valuable it becomes to the individual. Career opportunities, chances to learn from others, bounce ideas off and offer genuine value to connect with peers of a similar demographic. This could lead to more user generated content and organic conversations that you could leverage for better insight into how you are perceived and improvements you could make.

Assistance and public conversations

Could social be used as a genuine platform to assist members or have real time conversations? You must be quick though and respond in a timely manner (less than an hour) to help signpost, work out issues or take the conversation offline to resolve. Others will see it and it gives a good impression to those that may have similar experiences but didn’t reach out. It shows you care about your members and are there to help them as they’re your first priority.

Interesting news

If news is deemed interesting it will probably be shared on social more quickly than any of the other more traditional channels. People are increasingly turning to social media as their main news source, particularly the 18 to 34 year old demographic.

Other important information such as member highlights, industry insights, key trends, networking events, and learning opportunities all make for engaging content for your social media channels.

It’s important that the member sees the value in following you on social, else they will quickly turn off. They’re not going to do it because they want to be your friend, they’re doing it because they need something from you.

Popular social media icons on round balls in their brand colours

Which social media channels do your members use?

Get your platform right

Different platforms are used for different experiences and by different demographics. Researching and using the social channels your members engage with means your content won’t fall on deaf ears.


Use Twitter if you post often and want to get the word out to a broad and public forum. It's a fantastic vehicle for bursts of news and your content can be found by people that don’t currently follow you through using appropriate hashtags. Many professional associations tweet multiple times a day and advocacy groups also use it to draw audiences back to websites for original content and offers. The key thing to think about is that you must be committed to the platform. It’s important to keep the momentum up with Twitter as tweets ‘live’ for about 18 minutes before fading into obscurity so it’s not uncommon for organisations to post news several times in different times zones or at different times of the day to stand the best chance of being seen.


When it was first launched in 2002, using LinkedIn was likened to working a business networking room, only virtually. Known for its professional and career-oriented audience, you can post your content as articles in their own right on the platform, or create posts that link to content on your own website. With 740 million worldwide users, having a LinkedIn company page boosts your credibility and increases your organisation’s visibility – of those LinkedIn users engaging with the platform monthly, 40% access it daily. The feed itself rotates slower than that of other platforms so your posts won’t disappear quickly if you’re not constantly updating. Ultimately, LinkedIn is where your members and prospective members are at. Even if they don’t use the platform regularly, people know they need a LinkedIn profile to enhance their professional image – whether looking for new job opportunities, networking or seeking training and professional certifications.


Video is the preferred way to consume content, especially with the millennial and younger generations. Studies show that by 2022, 82% of social media content will be video, so think about 'how to' videos to learn something new, member testimonials or just simply for entertainment. YouTube should be considered if you can be visual and make videos that are informative, useful or provide a hub for existing resources you don’t mind being in a public forum. If you’re still on the fence about video then consider:

  • Tweets with video on average see 10x more engagement than those without – Twitter
  • Users on LinkedIn are 20x more likely to share a video than any other type of post – Marketing Land
  • Video is the best performing content type on Facebook – BuzzSumo

Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook stories

Save these for events you attend or host, team away days, or live stream discussions about current topics in your industry that your members and prospective members would benefit from learning about. Stories are far more likely to receive higher engagement with users more accustomed to using social as part of their daily lives other than to ‘keep up with friends’. If you’re feeling brave, you could always go live on Instagram/Facebook during events to share key takeaways in real-time. Foster ‘in the moment’ responses from attendees to give personality to your events and social channels.


Despite my middle of the road millennial age, I’m not too ‘old for TikTok’. Brands, celebrities, and publishers are becoming more involved in the short form video platform, and so should the membership and association sector. There’s a huge amount of crossover in audience with 85% of TikTok users aged 16 to 64 saying they use Facebook and it offers yet another different type of content to engage with. Consider the basic premise of TikTok – it puts the spotlight on everyday people who do really interesting things. For a membership organisation, videos on the platform could showcase the appeal of a profession or industry. It could provide step-by-step instruction in an entertaining way that also gives your organisation a personality. You could even report other short videos you’ve made for Instagram in an entertaining, inspiring, or first-person perspective that results in fantastic engagement.

Generation Z and their attributes written on a spiral-bound sketch pad

Generation Z is the first wholly digital native workforce

Listen and don’t forget Gen Z

Gen Z made up 24% of the workforce in 2020 and they’ve not had an easy ride of it up to this point. They’re most likely facing their second unprecedented economic climate downturn in their defining years and, with that, the responsibility to provide a membership to cater for their preferences and behaviours should change the way you look at how you communicate to this audience.

Gen Z are your organisation’s future lifers and will shape how your membership proposition evolves and acts in the future.

Engagement is key, but remember what it’s all for

Member engagement is critical to assess social media success (read here for insightful metrics to measure success), but only in the context of member retention. Make sure you keep an ear to the ground and monitor brand conversation. Your social media activity should:

  • Promote membership benefits and encourage members to engage and get great value from their membership
  • Provide encouragement for members to renew their membership, and provide an easy-to-use process to allow that to happen
  • Encourage lapsed members to renew their membership, provide them with motivation and remind them of the membership benefits they're missing out on

If you’d like to talk about optimising your social media strategy for your membership organisation, we’re here to help. You can book a free consultation here.