Back before Maddie and I launched The No BS Guide to Digital Transformation, I had been writing a brief series on member engagement, inspired by serving on a virtual panel on engagement, organized by Mary Byers, for the Veterinary Medical Association.
One of the other main topics we discussed was Engagement Scoring.
Association execs get really focused on scoring engagement based on tech-enabled interactions, which is totally understandable – they’re designed to be trackable, and many tech platforms that are popular in associations have scoring mechanisms built in (or APIs that allow you to easily connect them to scoring mechanisms).
The problem is that provides a limited view of engagement.
Think about the last time you went to an in-person conference in the Before Times: What was the best or most useful part of the event?
For most people, it was a connection you made with another person, whether that was in the hallway between sessions, on the shuttle bus, in the buffet line or at your table at lunch, or at one of the formal or informal social events.
What did the organization that put on the event ask about in their event evaluation?
It was probably a lot of Likert scale questions about the venue and the food and the speakers and the conference app.
That’s the disconnect right there. We ask about the things that are easy to measure, not the things that actually matter to people, things like:
- What was your goal in attending this event?
- Did you achieve it or not?
- If not, what could we change for the next one to facilitate that?
And I get it – it’s MUCH harder to put a number on the kinds of responses questions like those will generate.
But I want you to take off your association hat for a minute and ask yourself: What do regular people think of when you say “engagement”? Probably two people deciding to get married, right? (Hence the cover photo for this post.)
Engagement is about relationships and relationship building, and as such, it’s deeply personal.
As busy association professionals who are trying to plan the annual conference when pandemic rules are changing daily and prep for the board meeting and finish the next year’s budget and run the recruitment campaign and identify which members are at risk of lapsing (one goal of engagement scoring) and move members up the ladder of engagement (another goal) and reward our most engaged members (yet another goal), it’s really easy to forget that.
I’m not saying that scoring doesn’t matter. It does. But you’re a real person, your members are real people, what we’re talking about here is building a web of relationships – stay focused on that.