October 29, 2018
Membership Directory Apps are About to Make a Major Comeback

How mobile membership directories have evolved into modern engagement hubs.

Membership organizations small and large know the importance of facilitating networking and engagement. After all, the promise of connecting with like-minded professionals and spawning new relationships is why members join and pay dues in the first place.

It’s no wonder then that so many organizations have created mobile directory apps in hopes of making it easier for members connect. The only problem? Merely digitizing a directory doesn’t drive engagement, at least not anymore. Five-years ago when paper was still a plausible alternative, members may have been excited . But today the average smartphone owner has 90+ apps, sends over 100 text messages per day, and belongs to 8 social networks. When does one find time to peruse your organization’s directory app?

Thus membership directory apps haven’t kept pace with changes in consumer behavior, leaving many organizations managing clunky apps that nobody uses. GroupFire was built to fundamentally change the way your organization communicates, both internally and externally, and our new-age membership directory app is at the center of it all.

 

Membership Directory Apps 2.0

Leading membership orgs feeling the pressure to modernize are focusing on internal communication and engagement. Here’s how the next wave of membership directory apps -- if it’s still fair to call them that -- have evolved to facilitate networking and foster more meaningful connection.


  1. Group Messaging - If your current membership directory consists of contact profiles and the ability to call, email, or direct message each 1-1, there’s clearly room for improvement. One of the features that members love most is group messaging. Imagine that several members shared a proper belly laugh at your most recent chapter event. While going into your static directory to message each person individually would be cumbersome, quickly drafting a single message to the group and reviving the joke on one thread is sure to spur engagement.
  2. Modern Communication - In addition to offering better tools for members to engage one another, modern mobile membership directory apps should also make it easy to personalize communications at scale. Administrators need to come to grips with the fact that their one-size-fits-all, monthly newsletters are routinely ignored. Luckily new tools can help make your members feel like they belong. For example if you learn about an external event that a handful of members might enjoy, share it in your newsfeed and tag those who are most likely to care. These kind of micro-engagements to your entire membership base are difficult without a central communications platform, yet it is precisely this kind of hyper-personalization that adds the most value for members.
  3. Event Management - Events are the lifeblood of many member-focused organizations, so it makes sense that modern directory apps enable members to discover, buy tickets for, and RSVP to events as well. From an administrator’s perspective, attendee details need to flow into a centralized dashboard where one can send reminders, update guests, message volunteers, and more. Traditionally organizations have used separate tools to accomplish it all, but modern membership platforms like GroupFire integrate backend event management with a member app for a complete end-to-end solution.
  4. Privacy Controls -  If you have multiple membership levels, internal staff and volunteers, as well as different chapters with shared events and programming, it can be tricky to decide who to include in your member directory. You also have to decide what information to make visible to different groups. For instance, you may want separate content for board members than for volunteers. Or different resources available to different membership levels. Rather than one-size fits all, a dynamic directory with advanced controls over user permissions allows administrators to include more of the community, while maintaining the privacy of members who value it most. Best of both worlds!
  5. Omni-Channel Access - While it’s safe to assume your members have smartphones, they won’t all have the same device, nor eager to download another app. Even among those who do, some will opt out of push notifications. Your member directory app needs to factor in a variance in communication preferences if it’s going to effectively connect members. That’s why GroupFire offers a responsive web version of its native iOS and Android apps so everyone is covered. Since many disable push notifications, GroupFire also provides administrators tools to reach their members via email. But what about if you REALLY want to get a member’s attention? Shoot them a text from your GroupFire control panel. No one will ever have an excuse for missing an announcement, invitation, or incoming chat again.

 

If your organization already has a membership directory app, it’s worth evaluating how your members are using it. Without features like group messaging and the ability to engage members personally on their preferred medium, it may be time to pronounce your mobile membership directory dead and figure out a plan to resuscitate. Lucky for you, there are options!

If you’re curious how to streamline communications and better help members connect with one another, we’d love to chat. Shoot us an email or schedule a demoGroupFire's end-to-end member communication platform powers your organization’s engagement across all channels, 365 days a year. It combines powerful membership management, event registration, email marketing, text messaging, and internal chat software into an intuitive platform. Let's talk about what a modern member directory platform looks like.

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Alex Goldberg

Alex Goldberg

Alex is a marketing whiz and mobile enthusiast. He spends his time thinking about customer acquisition and scaling early-stage companies, much like the membership organization administrators that GroupFire serves!

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