Tuesday Buzz: How Social Debt Drives Engagement

The value of social debt in nurturing member engagement—and how you can encourage it. Also: Membership lessons from a too-honest take on gyms.

Is the root of all member engagement hidden inside an array of favors?

It sounds like a weird concept, but FeverBee’s Richard Millington, author of Buzzing Communities, says that social debt is key to all member interactions.

“We seem wired to repay our social debts. Social debts have been the basis of community for almost 5000 years,” Millington wrote in a recent blog post. “Communities (genuine communities at least) are a collection of social debts between members on a mass scale.”

His point is essentially this: Instead of encouraging your members to do things for the organization, you might be better off building stronger engagement through interactions between different individuals within an organization. Instead of doing things directly for the association, those members will do favors for other members—and indirectly help the association meet its goals.

“The community is a collection of individuals,” he said. “You need to individualize it.”

Video of the Day

Outside of associations, perhaps the most common membership that the average person is aware of is the gym membership, and it turns out to be something that’s pretty easy to parody. This Cracked clip imagines what gyms would be like if they were honest with their customers.

It’s a bit on the nose, but the point that association execs probably shouldn’t miss is that gyms don’t offer a level of value or customer services that justify their cost. How can you ensure that your association is never worthy of such mockery due to weaknesses with its benefits?

Other Links of Note

In case you need something to do to make your commute a little less taxing, the new site CommuteKit has a lot of ideas to help keep you mentally stimulated.

Hoping to keep your emails relevant this year? AWeber’s Liz Willits has the scoop on a few trends you should follow in 2016.

Come on, get happy: Become a more positive event professional in 2016; the Event Manger Blog explains how.

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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