Podcast solutions and digital credentials are some examples of how technology is helping member associations in acquiring or engaging members in the US. Detailed below is an overview of each of these technologies and how they are used in specific member organizations.
- A podcast is an audio file that can be downloaded to a computer or mobile device. It is a technology used to connect subscribed listeners to various topics, and listeners can listen to the published podcasts anytime and anywhere.
- Many membership-based organizations and associations have started using podcast solutions to engage their members and potential sponsors with resourceful information on topics such as business, science, and history. Examples of these are the Association of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) and the American Society for Microbiology (ASM).
Association of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD)
- The Association of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), a membership-based organization based in Chicago, is a leading national advocate of children’s oral health. The association has around 10,400 members, which include active, international, and retired pediatric dentists; associates and affiliates; predoctoral, postdoctoral, and international students; honorary and allied members; and friends of pediatric dentistry.
- AAPD started creating the Pedo Teeth Talk podcast with a singular goal of using it in educating and engaging their members. The podcast offers its members a free and easily accessible source of information from their mobile devices regardless of one’s location.
- Because of the popularity of the organization’s first six podcasts, AAPD created a secondary goal for the podcast, which was monetary. With 2,173 average downloads per show and 26,076 total podcast downloads, they were able to add the option of allowing an interested party to sponsor a show. Out of the 12 podcasts they’ve published, six were sponsored.
- Many podcasts don’t make money because of their free nature; however, with AAPD’s popular shows, they were able to monetize their efforts through sponsorship or advertisers.
American Society for Microbiology (ASM)
- Based in Washington, DC, the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) is the oldest and largest single life science membership organization in the world. It offers professional development opportunities and knowledge to over 30,000 members, which include researchers, educators, and health professionals.
- Dr. Vincent Racaniello, a partner professor of ASM, uses podcasts to engage with like-minded professionals and share microbiology knowledge through three podcasts channels, “This Week in Virology,” “This Week in Microbiology,” and “This Week in Parasitism.” The video producer at ASM, Chris Condayan, says, “One of our strategic objectives here is to promote and advance the microbial sciences. That’s exactly what these podcasts do. We’re basically becoming our own media and producing our own content this way.”
- Each new episode of each podcast is downloaded about 5,000 times a day it’s released, and often 20,000 times after a month.
- The ASM hosts Dr. Racaniello in its annual conferences, where he performs live podcasts and attract a crowd.
- Listener research shows that only one-third of the podcasts’ listeners are scientists and ASM members, who have a professional obligation to keep up with the latest news in the industry. The rest is a mixture of high school to postdoctoral students and people from various backgrounds, such as laborers, truck drivers, mail delivery people, and policemen, among others.
- All three podcasts together have a wide enough audience for the shows to generate advertising revenue.
- A digital credential is a technology used to issue digital forms of any type of physical credentials, such as tickets, membership certificates, digital badges, online certifications, training completion certificates, and others.
- These are digital versions of the traditional paper credentials issued by various associations and are used as a credential proof. Examples of member associations that use this technology are the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) and the International Association for Privacy Professionals (IAPP).
National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA)
- The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) is an international non-profit trade association based in Missouri. The association, which has 3,569 member companies, represents all segments of the hardwood flooring industry. It provides technical resources, training, and certifications to member companies.
- NWFA was searching a way “to engage young professionals in the association, provide additional membership benefits, and showcase the unique skills of its membership to a larger audience.” For this goal, they turned to digital credentials.
- The association members undergo both written and hands-on testing to earn their certifications, which are offered in a form of digital badge upon completion of the courses. This digital representation of a learned skill can be shared on social media platforms by members. According to Stephanie Owen, NWFA education director, “the digital badges represented new value for its members. With a dwindling labor supply, we wanted to engage young professionals with digital credentials that would make them marketable.”
- The organization also issued digital badges to members who have been previously certified. So far, the organization has issued over 3,000 digital badges.
- The digital movement has generated immediate interest among NWFA’s members, and the digital badge is starting to generate a good-natured competition. Overall, it has become a marketing opportunity for the organization and has provided real benefit to its members.
International Association for Privacy Professionals (IAPP)
- The International Association for Privacy Professionals (IAPP) is a membership organization based in New Hampshire, USA, that provides resources for professionals who want to develop and advance their careers by helping their organizations successfully manage risks and protect their data.
- IAPP wanted to provide a better experience and engage more members to take up their certification programs; however, by using the traditional print-and-mail paper certificates, the association was not able to keep up with the pace of issuance of credentials to members. It took around two days printing and mailing certificates, leading to members’ dissatisfaction with the delivery of the certificates.
- To improve the members’ experience, IAPP did a hard switch and started using an online digital certificate issuance system, wherein upon completion of the course, the members do not have to wait and are sent digital certificates right away.
- With the digital credential approach, IAPP eliminated the problems associated with the printing and mailing of paper certificates. In addition, they efficiently engage with members who are in need of a certificate the same day of the completion of course.
- IAPP has issued “around 20,000 certificates related to information privacy and data handling to professionals like lawyers, consultants, and chief privacy or technology officers at large multinationals every year.”