When the Pew Research Center began tracking social media adoption in 2005, just 5% of American adults used at least one of these platforms. By 2011, that share rose to half of all Americans, and today 72% of the public uses some type of social media.

Understanding our changing reality, we believe that the idea of a member online community aligns soundly with our mission, as it will foster deeper relationships within our organization by providing a safe place for members to share ideas, advice, and experiences. This is where increased engagement starts.

We recently kicked off development of The CMA Community platform and are fortunate to be working with Personify, a technology foundation that empowers organizations to enhance membership experiences.

Communities have goals of building a loyal following, growing, and cultivating a supportive environment while helping members to further the community mission. Community does not just happen; it must be taken care of and intentionally encouraged. Earlier this year, our membership survey results showed that members joined the CMA for fellowship, formation, and local guild activities. The CMA Community is being developed to support these findings and to enhance the member experience.

CMA Community Features to Drive Engagement

The new online community platform will feature forums, groups and blogs. Forums will facilitate discussions and be a place to see trending topics and announcements. Groups will provide a space for guilds to collaborate and communicate directly with their assigned members. Finally, blogs will allow our expert members to share their valuable insight and experiences.

Gamification is Personify’s way of providing tools for deeper interaction and engagement. These tools include “badging,” which allows members to be identified as CMA Leaders, recognized by experience, specialties, and associations as well as leaderboards and contests to showcase and highlight member accomplishments.

The new community platform will also be a multimedia platform where photos and videos posted by members will enhance visual engagement. Members will be able to access CMA publications quickly and easily as well as host live events and reach members where they are, with mobile-optimized experiences, email-based alerts, and multi-language options.

Intentional, Relevant Communication

The more engaged we are as members of a community, the more we appreciate that community. We connect most deeply with the groups and associations that we are most involved in. Encouraging these connections will lead to higher member retention, increased member satisfaction, and better professional relationships year-round. Community is multi-dimensional and vibrant, and it thrives because of the members who are a part of it. Community delivers real-time values and connections.

Building a community platform like this takes time, hard work and effort from many people including President Dr. Michael Parker, Executive Director Mario Dickerson, the CMA Board of Directors, Regional and State Directors, the Finance Committee, and the CMA Central Office staff. I look forward to working with the newly formed CMA Community Development Team as we strive toward our implementation date of November 30, 2020. See you in The CMA Community  soon!

Sean R. Fitzsimmons is the membership director for the Catholic Medical Association.