Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Dr. Aariel Charbonnet, Phi Theta Kappa’s Manager of Member Support and Outreach.
Every academic term, chapters — and PTK Headquarters — send thousands of emails to prospective members of Phi Theta Kappa, inviting them to accept membership. And every academic term, thousands of emails go unopened or unanswered.
Two reasons come to mind:
- Students do not check email, especially their school email accounts, regularly. For many digital natives, email is a floppy disk in a Cloud-based world; a disposable camera in a galaxy of high-definition smart phones; a VHS tape in a streaming sea of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime. You see where I’m going.
- Often, our emails go directly to students’ spam, or junk, folders. So, for students who regularly check their email, Phi Theta Kappa’s invitations go unanswered.
How can chapters and Headquarters connect with prospective members to communicate the lifetime membership benefits of Phi Theta Kappa? One method is to meet students where they are — online (but not in their inbox).
Both in and out of the classroom, digital technologies are pervasive in the lives of today’s college students. One glance at Pew Research Center’s 2017 Social Media Fact Sheet, and it is clear social media connectivity is omnipresent for American adults. For example, 80 percent of Americans between the ages of 30 and 49 use at least one social media site. That figure increases to 86 percent for adults ages 18-29. Moreover, research suggests that the majority of college students prefer elements of a digital learning environment.
Using Zoom, a platform for video and audio conferencing, advisors, officers, and your Headquarters Divisional Specialist can co-facilitate a highly tailored, interactive webinar for your chapter’s prospective members. This customized, online discussion will enable your students to ask questions and get answers from PTK Headquarters staff AND YOU, the leaders of their prospective local chapter.
Your Divisional Specialist will customize a presentation for your chapter — complete with your chapter’s eligibility criteria, common reasons why prospective members at your chapter do not accept membership, and professional development and fellowship opportunities on your campus. Additionally, your Divisional Specialist will include information about Phi Theta Kappa’s mission and structure to provide a holistic take on what membership in Phi Theta Kappa entails on the international, regional, and local levels.
During the webinar, prospective members will be able to “meet” both of you — local chapter leaders AND Headquarters staff members who will work with you to create and foster opportunities for continued success.
A Zoom webinar has a maximum capacity of 500 participants. I encourage you to take full advantage of this opportunity. If your chapter is currently participating in summer enrollment, this webinar may serve as your final outreach to prospective members. If your chapter is not participating in summer enrollment, use this opportunity to spearhead marketing efforts to promote this webinar in the fall.
Keep in mind: Diversifying your outreach methods could be just the fix you need to bring you one step closer to earning distinction as a REACH chapter.
After your collaborative Zoom webinar with PTK Headquarters staff, I encourage you to continue using Zoom to engage with your members and prospective members year-round. Any individual can create a Zoom basic user account and host a meeting with three or more total participants (up to 100) lasting up to 40 minutes. Use the webinar you co-facilitated with your Divisional Specialist as a model, and start to implement Zoom meetings on your own for prospective and current members alike.
This collaboration between Headquarters staff and your chapter’s leaders can serve as the launching pad for your chapter’s membership and communication goals. Invite a chapter officer to serve as a panelist. Promote the webinar on your chapter and school’s social media pages. Amplify your digital presence, and increase your chances of converting prospective members into actual members by partnering with us. Click HERE to view a sample webinar registration page, and click HERE to view some of PTK’s recent webinars.
Given today’s college population of digital natives, it makes sense to meet students “where” they are. Zoom technology is a simple, innovative way to connect with your audience, bridge the gap between Headquarters and your local chapter, and enhance your chapter’s presence both online and offline.