Membership Hack: Teleforums

If your members don’t have time for an hour-long webinar, consider an on-the-go option—teleforums—where members dial in for a phone conversation.

How to hack it? The Auto Care Association has thousands of members who are constantly on the go, which means they don’t have time to sit down in front of a computer for an hour-long webinar. Instead, members phone in for less structured conversations, called teleforums.

“We started this in 2014, and it has grown to become a value-added outreach program,” says Lia Zegeye, director of member relations. “While our members travel in the car or fly in the air, they can listen to a live or recorded conversation that feels more like talk radio than a slideshow presentation.” Each discussion has a moderator, a handful of panelists, and dial-in listeners, who can submit questions before or during the call.

Why does it work? The teleforum series is kind of like a fireside chat that requires only a phone number. Zegeye tries to focus on hot topics that might be controversial but are issues on every members’ mind. “What’s also important is your panel. You want to have a pre-call to structure the conversation and make sure they feel comfortable to discuss and engage with each other,” Zegeye says.

What’s the bonus? After four years, these teleforums are a proven way to engage members. In the last few months, Zegeye has seen record-high attendance—more than 400 participants joined her last call. “Instead of avoiding the tough topics or conversations, we address them head-on,” she says. “This allows us to continue to be a leader in the industry.”

(IPGGutenbergUKLtd/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Tim Ebner

By Tim Ebner

Tim Ebner is a senior editor for Associations Now. He covers membership, leadership, and governance issues. Email him with story ideas or news tips. MORE

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