Building Engagement: ISES DC Follows Members’ Lead

  • We needed a new newsletter editor. The call was answered by an innovative, exciting member … who also happened to be a blogger. Our cumbersome e-letter morphed into a blog.
  • A Facebook fan started up an ISES DC group.
  • She was on Twitter but didn’t see the chapter so offered to be the ISES DC Twitter voice.
  • Driven to organize the planning and execution of the chapter’s major expo, the chair opened a Google Group, loaded up the documents and ran the first meeting using those shared items.

Each of these members has their own social media tool preference and in each case they volunteered to forge the path for the chapters. This wasn’t the case for ISES DC’s first foray into social media last year when we opened a LinkedIn group. LinkedIn was chosen for two key reasons: a large following of members were already there professionally and ISES national had a presence. We launched the group with splash at a monthly meeting that featured Jeremy Epstein, a Web 2.0 guru, speaking on using social media in your business. We offered an on-site a crash course in LinkedIn and help in setting up a LinkedIn account. We followed up with an article in the e-letter, links on the website and invites to members.
It was slow going.

The difference in the acceptance and engagement between the original foray and the latest four is that members are leading the effort now. Their enthusiasm begets enthusiasm. That and frankly the barriers to engagement are lower. Consider … it’s easy to get a Twitter account and simply follow ISES_DC. It’s super easy to follow the blog. Facebook requires little work to get started. Our LinkedIn Group has picked up steam too.

One other interesting factor that makes a blog for us an excellent choice – and this was pointed out to us by the member – is the ability to share. Our members are event planners who love to share news about their events. They take lots of photos and videos. They have great stories. Our blog offers a super simple sharing feature for quick uploads of photos, clips and news.

You may be asking though, how did you get your members take to the lead? We created an open-door culture. When we did our splash at the monthly meeting and launched the LinkedIn group, we said to all that we were getting started and welcomed input. We stood by ready to answer questions and ready to support. We talked “social media.” And we nurtured the LinkedIn Group, adding feeds, generating discussions, encouraging members to participate. With time, members took us up on the offer.

And we learned an important lesson: members really do know best and they will tell you and even take the lead on projects.
As in all stories, there’s a little conflict. When you have an open door, you may get surprises. We found some branding inconsistencies, wound up with a duplicate Twitter account that needed to be closed, and some conflicting messaging. But that is all fixable. We needed to dust off the branding guidelines and share. We needed to establish some basic messaging guidelines. We needed to pull together the MarCom team. We’re still working through some of these pieces – and we’re still following the members!