On April 15, 2014 Early Birds Toastmasters became the first Toastmasters club in Kenya to use a whatsapp group to communicate with its members. Having participated in several other Toastmasters club whatsapp group, I can confidently claim that Early Birds whatsapp group remains the one of the best managed.
With this article, I’d like to delve in what it takes to manage a whatsapp group effectively. Before we embark on that, maybe first we should define well managed. In my view a well-managed whatsapp group for a Toastmasters club should be: relevant in terms of information shared, vibrant in terms of the breadth and frequency of messages, and productive in terms of contributing to the goals of the club.
Every whatsapp group when set up has a purpose. For a Toastmasters group this purpose should be either communication about Toastmasters related activities, learning on leadership and communication, or bonding by members within the values of the Toastmasters community or a combination of the three. In addition every member of the group must know and accept to adhere to the purpose before joining. The clearest manifestation of this acceptance is payment of subscription fees. This is why the whatsapp group of Early Birds remains exclusively for paid up members. Any member who fails to renew their membership by the due date is politely but promptly removed from the group.
There is a concern that by removing a member who fails to renew on time works against your membership retention efforts. But my experience has been the opposite, when members realize that the whatsapp group and by extension the club is exclusive to those who commit, then they appreciate its benefits even more and are prompt to renew dues. But think about it this way, would a tenant pay rent if there was no threat of eviction and he could live in the house rent free forever?
Let only those who pay rent live in your Whatsapp house. The value of your property will increase, your paid up tenants will be less crowded and enjoy more value and stay longer.
Whatsapp groups are poor tools for marketing. If you need to communicate to prospective members about upcoming meetings and events, I would suggest you set up a Facebook or twitter page instead and direct them there. Better still call and invite them to a meeting.
Trim your whatsapp group to members only and experience quicker renewals and renewed vibrancy among members.