Use Social Media Software to Make Membership Connections

Social MediaIs your association utilizing Public Social Media sites?  If not, your executives should at least consider the notion that most people today participate online via social media.

And, for the Millennial generation they’ve grown up with the offering. It’s a scary fact in the digital world today that your membership (potential and current) can collaborate with other like minded individuals with or without you.

If you’ve determined that your members are collaborating in Public Sites, perhaps you have begun to consider a Private Social Media Network for your community? If not, you likely should!

Private Social Media Software allows your organization to control the content and community. Your site becomes a member benefit!

With social media software, your membership can keep in touch with your organizations for events, causes, training courses using things like push notifications, twitter posts, and Facebook posts to keep in touch with existing members and build a bigger audience.

Quick Benefits of Using Social Media Software

  • Collaboration: Social media is just that – social.  Members share what they find and their friends can more easily find your organization. More importantly, their friends will remember to find you: the link to your site is usually right there on the post sent by a trusted friend.
  • Costs: A good social media campaign has fewer costs associated with it than, say, a direct mail campaign. In addition, most private social media software (like HigherLogic) includes built-in analytics pages to more easily help you track metrics.
  • Brand: As well as lower costs, practical results like brand visibility and interaction with your non-profit are often higher than the 5% conversion rate that non-profits usually enjoy for direct marketing.
  • Engagement: With private Social Media Software your organization can control and monitor the activity of your constituents allowing your executives to provide more of what your community wants.

How to Find the Right Social Media Platform for your Group

Twitter, Facebook, Forums, Imgur, Tumblr, and even the old MySpace…are public sites which your members may reside today. It’s imperative to bring your community into your office (your website).  The sheer number of private social media platforms available can be overwhelming. It’s important to think about the following questions when planning a move to private social media software.

  • Integration: Can you integrate the platform’s analytics easily with your AMS software? While you can get around this by entering things manually, you’ll want it to be as easy and seamless as possible to keep track of basic member profile information (name, address etc.), participation, orders & event information .
  • Activity Tracking: Does your target audience “hang out” on the platform you’re looking at? It’s harder to track on a Public Social Media Software platform. If you can’t determine engagement, as inexpensive as it may be, the cost won’t be worth the return.
  • Pictures are worth a 1000 Words: Does your audience and membership work primarily more in words or images? Even if they tend to think and respond well to words, if you choose a platform other than Twitter, consider including both in your offerings.

Many of our partner software solutions include ways to integrate social media with Public Sites, your metrics and even accounting processes.

Please Contact us today to see how we can help you better manage your membership’s needs with Private Social Media Software.

The Value of Using Association Membership Software

the value of #membershipsoftware

What should you expect in terms of ROI for your Association Membership software?

Association Management Software (AMS) is absolutely necessary for every member based organization. Any association executive who has spent hours dredging through piles of paper for event registrations or who has updated a members contact information in a number of different places will love Association Management Software. The key is finding the right fit for you.

The Value of Membership Software 

It sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Association Management Software has many capabilities that will keep an association organized and running like a well-oiled machine.

Association Management Software will help with everything from event planning to tracking e-commerce so that staff employees can focus more on the members or donors and less on the member data information updates or donor financial processing.

Association Management Software is huge in the world of small or larger associations. Typically, an association (like all businesses) have very little manpower and a small pool of funds with which to pull in new employees or volunteers. Hiring an employee to update the databases, plan the events and follow the e-commerce or donations just isn’t economically feasible. Therefore, an existing employee is charged with the duty, on top of the normal duties of his or her job title. This quickly leads to burn out and disgruntled employees.

Most associations software tools today are accessed via a web browser, therefore, any employee or volunteer can grab the information at any time/anywhere. And, your members can have access to the information on-line as well only adding to the value of the expenditure. The tool can become the foundation for all aspects of your business today; website, database, communication tool, government relations, eCommerce, Events, Billing, Orders, etc.

Why Should you consider Membership Software?

Why wouldn’t every association (small, medium, large) have one integrated association membership software platform? Good Question!

Perception is often the enemy. Many old school executives are living in the past. We often hear phrases such as “I am too small for that” or “AMS software is too expensive”. However, that couldn’t be farther from the truth in today’s technology world. The cost of the typical Cloud based association management tool can be as low as $ 100 a month per user (staff).

Key Value Areas of Membership Software

This small investment greatly outweighs the labor costs of hiring an employee, the overtime costs associated with piling extra work onto an existing employee, redundant data entry from one system to another, or the poor perception of your members without the capability of offering 24/7/365 days service. With this acquisition of technology, you can realistically see the benefits of:

  • Reduced Labor Costs
  • Improved Staff Time and Productivity
  • Increased Revenue Opportunities
  • Improved Customer Service and Satisfaction
  • Enhanced insights for better decision making

As an executive at an association, it’s imperative that you have a membership software program that will work for you in this day in age. We encourage your board to take the step to investigate the right solution for your particular needs.

SmartThoughts can help you determine whether or not obtaining an Association Management Software platform is right for your organization. A small investment now will pay off through money earned over time. It’s up to you. Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.

Free Membership Software Purchase Guide for Nonprofits

What No One Tells You About Technology Debt

Technology Debt

Do you remember Stanley, the Lending Tree Guy? If not, below you will find the video from the 90’s to refresh your memory:

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PV_YAeXOSiw[/youtube]

While you may not be in financial debt like Stanley at your organization, you may be in similar form of debt, Technology debt, which is the topic we want to discuss today. In this article, I explain what technology debt is and the side effects of not addressing it in your nonprofit. 

The Impact on Technology Debt

For over the last decade, I have been in the business of providing technology solutions for nonprofits. And, in that window of time, we have had many conversations with clients about Technology Debt and the impact it has on the mission of an organization.

What is Technology Debt?

Technology debt entails not keeping your infrastructure on the latest and greatest version provided by your software vendors. For example, when you apply standard Microsoft updates and patches on Tuesday night, you’re paying the debt. When you upgrade to the latest version of your Association Management Software, you’re paying the debt. When you renew your subscription to your Social Media provider, your’ paying the debt.

In the last 5 years, we have all been witness (participant) of the huge paradigm shift in how organizations deploy and maintain software. In essence, we have moved from the “On Premise” methodology to the “Cloud Software” as the prevailing means by which nonprofit associations deploy and utilize software today.

The Impact of Technology debt payments:

  • No Integration: An unsupported infrastructure will likely not integrate with other systems
  • Frustration: Not paying your debt will increase frustration by your staff and members
  • Pain: Debt paid incrementally is easier than waiting 10 years
  • Lack of Service: By not keeping up with your debt, you will limit your ability to provide the necessary services to your members. Ex. Is your web site responsive? Is your database PCI compliant?
  • Costly Upgrades: With Technology debt, you likely are forced to make costly customizations which will impact your ability to upgrade if and when you decide to do so.

A Few Cloud Benefits:

  • Quick Release: The “Cloud” multi-tenant software allows associations to stay current as technology evolves and changes. The “Cloud” quick release cycle builds in your software updates.
  • Stay Current: The “Cloud” eliminates the propensity for organizations to get behind with technology (assuming the vendor is keeping up). You have no “choice” to delay.
  • Cash Flow: No more lump sums upfront. “Cloud” based solutions is that your organization can pay incrementally over the life of your subscription.

Because of our history with many leading CRM and Association Membership Systems, we have many organizations using “On Premise” solutions which they have not upgraded/enhanced/or fixed for years (and in some cases over a decade). In some cases, Nonprofit Executives argue, proudly claim they have saved thousands of dollars by not participating. Or, they make the claim that by not paying for Association Nonprofit Management Software Updates they avoided the pains of an upgrade. If you’re accomplishing your mission with your current software system (or your system has an update that will) then these statements couldn’t be farther from the truth!

Benefits of Staying Current:

If you are still using an “On Premise” solution, many software for nonprofits provide a Software Update Plan (Maintenance Plan). It’s optional, but don’t make the mistake of thinking you avoid the debt, you don’t!

  • Protection: You assure the organization of optimizing your system for peak performance while also protecting it against future technology changes (in and outside the code).
  • Mitigate Risk: You will know your organization is protected against downtime and incompatibility issues when an operating system or software is upgraded. Ex. PCI standards.
  • Manage Costs: Your organization will control the expenses by providing a predictable cost of ownership you can rely on and budget for. You will jeopardize the use of your system by avoiding major upgrades every 5 to 7 years. In fact, it will likely be a complete shock to know that you have to pay one lump sum rather than the incremental payments in a regular plan.
  • Grow Revenue: With new technologies, you are more likely to be afforded new tools which will increase engagement and membership activity. For example, a responsive web site for mobile payments and e-Commerce, private social networking, and marketing automation.

In summary, I believe that “On Premise Software” and “Cloud Software” has its appropriate place today in technology. This piece is not a position for one or the other. However, when you pay off your technology debt (on-premise via software updates or via the cloud), you win, and your customers win too.

If you would like to discuss the proper approach for your organization or sign up for a free assessment, please feel free to contact SmartThoughts. Until then, keep SmartThoughts in mind.