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

How mobile membership directories have evolved into the engagement hubs of your dreams.

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 so many organizations have created mobile membership 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 by a directory in the palm of their hands. Today the average person has 90+ iPhone apps, sends over 100 text messages each day, and belongs to 8 social networks. When do they find time these days to peruse your organization’s directory app? Probably never, unless it suddenly starts providing a lot more value. Membership directory apps haven’t kept pace with changes in consumer behavior, leaving many organizations managing clunky apps that nobody uses. But GroupFire is on a mission to change the way your organization communicates, both internally and externally, and the membership directory app is at the center of it all.


Membership Directory Apps 2.0

Leading membership orgs feeling the pressure to modernize are finding new solutions to turbocharge internal communication and drive 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 people love most is group messaging. Imagine for a second that several members shared a good old-fashioned belly laugh at your most recent chapter event. While going into a static directory app and referencing the moment of revelry with each person individually would be cumbersome, quickly drafting a single message to the group, reviving the joke on one thread for everyone to comment on, is a complete game-changer. In fact, it’s likely what your members hope for when they first download your app.
  2. Personalized Communication - In addition to offering better tools for members to engage one another, modern mobile membership directory apps should also make it easy to send personalized 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 know several share a common business interest, why not introduce them via group text to kick off the conversation? Or 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.
  3. Event Management - Given how critical events are to organizations’ bottomline, it makes sense that modern directory apps also enable members to discover upcoming events, buy tickets, RSVP for significant others, and update external calendars accordingly. From an administrator’s perspective, attendee information needs to flow seamlessly into a centralized dashboard with the ability to send reminders, update guests, message volunteers, and more. Traditionally organizations have used separate softwares, but modern membership platforms integrate backend event management with a front-end app for members.
  4. Privacy Controls -  Organizations often have multiple membership levels, internal staff and volunteers, not to mention different chapters with shared events and programming. It can be tricky to decide who to include in your membership directory, and 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. The bottomline: 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 will they all be willing to download yet another app. Even among those who do, some will opt out of push notifications. Your membership directory app needs to factor in all of this variance in communication preferences if it’s going to fulfill its promise of connecting everyone. That’s why GroupFire offers native apps on both iOS and Android, as well as a mobile web version so folks without the app can still experience the content inside. We also empower administrators to reach their members via email if push notifications are being ignored. Really want to get a member’s attention? Shoot them a text from your central dashboard. 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 how to resuscitate. Luckily you have options!

GroupFire offers a total communication hub that powers your organization’s mobile app and member engagement across all channels, 365 days a year. It combines membership management, event registration, email marketing, text messaging, and internal chat software into an intuitive platform. If you’re curious how to streamline your communications and better help members connect with one another, we’d love to chat. Shoot us an email or schedule a demo today by clicking the button below.

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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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