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It seems like these days experts are pushing a "strategy" for everything. And for good reason. Most of us tend to get caught up in the business of putting fires out. Without goals (and a strategy on how to accomplish them), it’s easy to get lost in the commotion of the day. It's time to add a chamber member engagement strategy to your tool kit.

A strategy is a road map to your goal. It takes you door to door and tells you how to navigate most efficiently. Without a strategy, it’s easy to stray off the desired route. You can spend a lot of time doing things that won’t be moving you toward your goal. That means you’ll waste one of your most valuable commodities—time.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • What is member engagement?
  • ​Why is member engagement paramount to chambers?
  • ​Steps to successful member engagement
  • ​How to create a chamber member engagement strategy

What Is Chamber Member Engagement?

Most of us are used to referring to member engagement in terms of social media and emoticons but it’s much deeper than a thumb’s up emoji.

Member engagement is an ongoing connection between the member and the chamber that is exhibited through trackable interaction with content.

Member engagement can occur online or in person and it solidifies the relationship because it is an indication of perceived value on the member’s part.

Someone may find your chamber’s content invaluable and never outwardly interact with it. Most estimates suggest that 90% of people lurk instead of publicly appreciating and interacting with content on social media.

Still, a strong chamber member engagement strategy will help you appeal to those who do outwardly interact with your content and maybe even lure some of your lurkers into the open to help your engagement levels.

Screenshot from SouthWest Metro Chamber of Commerce member engagement page.

Why Is Member Engagement Paramount to Chambers?

Member engagement equals renewals. According to the 2022 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report published by Marketing General, 52% of executives believe lack of engagement is the primary reason members do not renew their membership–up from 50% in 2021.

This makes sense. If someone doesn’t feel like they are “using” a membership and it is costing them money, they will cancel it. It doesn’t matter if that is a gym membership, car wash membership, professional association, or chamber membership. If they’re not engaging with you, it’s very unlikely they’ll feel the value behind membership.

This isn’t just about business. It applies to any relationship. You get out of it what you put in. If you spend a lot of time talking about yourself and/or ignoring the other person in the relationship, they won’t see you as an important part of their life. Especially if they’re paying and not getting anything out of it.

No member will cancel membership if they’re getting value out of the relationship. If you are doing something for them that they can’t do for themselves, nor can they get it elsewhere, you will have a loyal member. But you don’t get to that point of building the relationship by simply posting what’s important to you.

Just as with an in-person relationship, you’ll want to reach out and engage members. Ask them about things they care about and make them feel important. Create and disseminate content that entertains, educates, and inspires.

Engagement also provides visible activity to track, giving you some indication of renewal and goal progress. A late 2022 survey from GrowthZone reported that 85% of chambers said their engagement was slightly better than 2021 (get the full study here). 

Since one of your most valuable resources is time, you want to ensure the time you spend on member engagement is used efficiently. That’s why it’s essential to have an engagement strategy.

Screenshot of Growth Zone Chamber Member Survey

Steps to Successful Member Engagement

The member relationship, like any other, has a life span. The member wants and needs different things of your chamber based on where they are in their business and their membership. When creating content, you want to make sure you have content that speaks specifically to the member stages. They are:

Member Stages and Engagement Opportunities

The member lifecycle or member stage largely resembles that of a sales funnel.


Awareness happens when the potential member first realizes there is a chamber, and that chamber may be able to assist them in some way. There are many levels of awareness, and a good member engagement strategy will begin here because it sets the tone for the continued relationship just as it would in a friendship. First impressions are important.


The next stage that requires its own type of engagement is the onboarding process. For ease, we will segment this group as being individuals in the stage from where they know they want to join to applying for membership, to paying for membership, through their first year of membership. There’s content they’ll need to make an informed decision to join and then renew.


This is the stage where the member is not new (they’ve renewed once) but they’re also not a long-term member yet. This group is the easiest to forget. That’s why you’ll want to focus on content that meets their business needs and reiterates how you can help. This content is not the intro tone used for onboarding but rather a “did you know” or “we are offering something new.”

Pillar of the Community

This member is someone who has been with you through it all. You may feel like you don’t have to do anything for them because that would be like getting a divorce after 50 years of marriage but in every relationship, regardless of longevity, you need to continue to ensure you’re meeting their needs. This group is more apt to help with planning, suggestions, and advocacy within the community.

Chamber Member Engagement Strategy chart of lifecycle

How to Create a Member Engagement Strategy

Take your member engagement stages and create content and interaction opportunities that will appeal to each stage.

But it’s not as daunting as it sounds. Some content will work across all stages. Following these steps will help you recognize what is specific to a stage and what will work for everyone.

1) Use your member stages to create marketing personas. With those personas in mind, figure out the best way to reach them. What social media channels are they on? Do they read blogs? Listen to podcasts? Decide what types of media are the most effective and engaging for each persona.

2) List your current member touchpoints. How are you currently interacting and engaging with your members? What seems to be working? What isn’t going largely ignored? Look at this same data segmented by demographic or member personas. For instance, at first glance, your podcast may seem like few of your (entire) membership is interacting with it until you notice that almost all your “under 40 crowd” listens regularly. This may make your podcast more valuable than you previously thought if you are trying to engage more of your members under 40.

3) Think about the needs of that group. Brainstorm content that appeals to the goals of each persona/member stage. Decide what type of hooked approach you will use—fear of missing out, solutions-based, pain points, education, inspiration, etc. The best approach probably combines several of these types. This step goes beyond simply phrasing your social media posts in a way that your member will find appealing. It is also a time to think about what they need to be successful and what types of content you could be creating to make them more so. For instance, you could create a travel magazine and feature several of your members periodically. This not only provides them with additional exposure, which they will appreciate; but they will likely share it with others as well because they are featured.

4) Move past content. Engagement is often measured by content use, approval, and/or dissemination but that’s not the only way to work on member engagement. Look for other means of touchpoints such as surveys and task forces. Engagement is involvement. When people are asked for their opinions, they have a vested interest in the outcome.

5) Give them something more. Another way to get your members more engaged is to look for opportunities to help them shine. You can do this through content creation but you can also create events around it. A “Best of Contest” or “Business Awards" event can not only highlight their business but also improve engagement. When someone is featured or lauded, they want to let their network know.

6) Put it together and measure the results. After you have mapped the engagement ideas and matched them to the personas, create an engagement calendar or assign responsibilities around the multiple planned engagement techniques. Then measure the results.

Give it about six months to a year to see if you are moving the needle on improving retention and referrals. After all, no relationship happens overnight. You need to invest time and energy and now you have a plan on how you will do that.

Want to learn more about member engagement strategies and examples of what worked in other chambers? Need more in-depth information on best practices and member engagement tactics that almost guarantee retention? Then read this month’s newsletter dedicated to the subject of member engagement.


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