Guest Author: Tim Ebner, Associations Now
Membership isn’t always pretty. Sometimes a sense of belonging can lead to entitlement and power struggles. One expert recommends asking yourself three critical questions to avoid membership’s “dark side.”
I tend to think of membership as a win-win. After all, people pay dues and join an organization because value and benefits come with the experience.
In her book The Membership Economy, Robbie Kellman Baxter, president of Peninsula Strategies, also focuses on the many positives of membership. She even predicts that it will become “the future of all business models.”
While we are certainly seeing the consumerization of membership—think Amazon, Netflix, Spotify, or Blue Apron—not all member experiences have rosy outcomes. In fact, Baxter notes that membership has a “dark side.” She first heard about it from a friend who at the time was running a news-sharing site built around a wide base of online members.
“What happened with his business, and what ultimately put it out of business, was that this very small group of committed members—the heaviest users [and] the most engaged—pushed really hard for the company to go in a certain direction,” Baxter says. “The business became more and more focused on serving this very small segment, and it became really unappealing to new members.”