Last week I attended the MemCom conference. One of the only annual conferences in the UK focused purely on membership.
John Brindley, Director, Membership & Business from the Institute of Physics started the day with an overview of what the IOP has done over the past few years which has resulted in a 33% growth in membership.
The Institute of Physics is a leading scientific society promoting physics and bringing physicists together for the benefit of all, it has over 40,000 members. And for those that don’t know, Wiki says that “Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related
concepts such as energy and force.”.
Below I share some of the initiatives that the IOP carried out which have contributed to this impressive growth:
John explained that their new online network, MyIOP has enabled members to connect online, comment and share content. He also said that they have started to focus on social media. You can see an example of this success, in that they have over 28,000 Twitter followers.
He said that they took the decision to open up online access to some of their highly-regarded publication, Physics World. This did offer some risk, a lot of their income is derived from their publishing work, however, what they found is that subscribers were sharing the content with others, so actually subscriptions and visibility of the publication went up. They also produced a free App which enables people to view the publication.
John reflected that the growing online community was producing a group of influential stakeholders that are outside the IOPs standard governance framework of branches and committees. Something I am sure many membership bodies can empathise with.
John explained that they extended their free student membership to all students studying physics anywhere in the world, which was made possible in part to the introduction of iMember, a completely online membership. This free membership was also extended to 16 – 19 year olds, to cover those studying physics prior to university. This is a great idea, as you capture future fee paying members right from the start.
This online membership has also enabled them to tap into the 50% or so of physic gradudates that don’t go on to work in physics but might be interested in staying in touch with their degree choice subject.
Using members to grow membership
They organised a Fellow get Fellow campaign to encourage those within membership to help grow the organisation. It was positioned as Fellows, as the most senior members have a role to play in supporting the physics community. This worked really well, they doubled their Fellow numbers.
It was a truely impressive case study. As John talked through their experiences, I gained the sense that the work was part of an organised plan. At the heart of what John (and his team) were doing is responding to what members wanted. I also think the IOP took some calculated risks, which have paid off. Sometimes you have to be bold!
I am really glad that their obvious hard work has paid off.
What do you think?
Have you tried online only memberships? Or a Fellow get Fellow campaign? Has your investment in technology delivered for your membership body? Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below or contacting me.