Blended Association

8 Mar

Are you a blended association?

Murray Goldberg and Terry Coatta were participating an #assnchat Twitter chat about “reinventing associations” when Murray had a brain storm. Have you ever seen someone have an Aha! moment? Watch the sixty second clip here.

Kiki L’Italien was posing interesting questions about empowerment, speed of association change and actively reinventing associations on her Twitter chat. Murray and Terry were having a wide ranging discussion while watching the tweets come in. They were talking about association boards, associations being about relationships and how social media means that associations are no longer the sole custodians of relationships . . . when suddenly, it was almost as though a light bulb lit up over Murray’s head. He was struck by the parallel between the concept of blended learning which he is very familiar with, and what was happening with associations, and coined the term blended socialization.

Blended learning is when traditional face to face learning is combined with computer based eLearning. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, but the interesting part is that when combined, the achievement of learning objectives is greater than either one done separately. The parallel for associations is that associations should be more effective at achieving their objectives by combining face to face and virtual relationships.

Blended socialization captures the idea that relationships are no longer just face to face and just as face to face and virtual learning bring complementary aspects to education; face to face and virtual relationships within an association can also complement one another. As Terry noted in the Blended Socialization post he wrote after the chat; the recent social media phenomenon has common cause with associations in that they both address the fundamental human desire to meet people, collaborate, and learn from each other. I noted in a previous post that association communications have evolved from meetings, through mail and magazines, to the age of moderation of online conversations, as most associations add social media to their communication mix. Associations should be able to achieve better engagement and better outcomes by adding an online component to member communications and enabling member to member relationships.

Achieving better outcomes, as always, will depend on planning, strategy and execution. Measuring the success of strategies however, will have to change. Now that communication is multi-directional, you can no longer rely on feedback metrics used for uni-directional communication such as readership. We will need some way of measuring success through engagement metrics that recognize many more bi-directional relationships. In future posts I will talk about how sociology and the concept and measurement of social capital can guide us. If you want a preview, have a look at some research on social capital and how it applies to associations in our library here.

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