Archive | September, 2012

Be the Online “Go To” Place for Your Members

6 Sep

Ryan Holmes article in Fast Company was titled:

“The $1.3 Trillion Price Of Not Tweeting At Work”.

That got some attention! He was immediately assailed by Kevin Lenard of Toronto

who’s blog tag line is “a veteran of global ad agency networks cuts through today’s ‘social media’ hyperbole to explain why “Social Marketing” doesn’t exist and where the future of marketing and advertising is really going”

accusing him of social media hucksterism which in turn brought many supporters forward and the debate raged on . . .

Ryan used Twitter as the social media example because he started by pointing out only 20 of Fortune 500 CEO’s have Twitter accounts; however the article was really about social media in general. It seems many people still think that Social Media and Social Networking is about having a good time; perhaps because most people started using it for connecting with friends a la FaceBook but that’s another story.

One small thing I found interesting was this observation:

“Just cutting email out of the picture in favor of social sharing translates to a productivity windfall as more enterprise information becomes accessible and searchable, rather than locked up as ‘dark matter’ in inboxes.”

So simple, easily searchable information . . . how many hours have I spent trying to find a particular piece of information I remember reading somewhere in my email. It is hard for some to break the email habit for sharing information;  but it will happen because it makes sense and is more productive. McKinsey Global Institute found that productivity of interaction workers could be improved 20-25% through social technologies. They are spending 28% of their time reading and answering emails! When you add searching and gathering information, communicating and collaborating you are up to almost five hours of an eight hour day before they get to role specific tasks.

Providing software tools for your members that incorporate social technologies like an online community with a library like AssociCom, (there’s the plug) and moving away from using email is not really a radical shift for an association. It is no longer expensive either. So what is the hold up? Many associations, especially smaller ones with limited or no staff are so busy with ongoing problems of maintaining growth and in some cases surviving that they figure they can continue to do what they have been doing and simply add a Facebook account and maybe a LinkedIn group and they have the social media thing covered. Then they wonder why there are no posts on Facebook except from association staff and forums or groups are moribund. There are many reasons of course but one of the basic ones is that most people are more comfortable calling someone and talking one on one than speaking to an audience. Many of us have no problem emailing a person or a close group of friends but do not want to post our thoughts and opinions for the whole world to see. Using a public online community that is set up for keeping in touch or looking for work may not be enough to have your members discover, connect and share in a meaningful way. A more radical shift is required.

If you want a peek at some really radical association shifts and questions you can ask yourself that will challenge your association’s status quo; check out Jeff de Cagna’s Associations Unorthodox, Six Really Radical Shifts Towards the Future. (Thanks to Carol-Anne for that lead.) I like number four – Go All In on Digital (whoops, my bias is showing again.)

The Bottom Line

Argue all you want but:

  1. Networking and access to specialized information are core association benefits.
  2. Online communities make networking and specialized information more accessible.
  3. Associations must be the online “Go To” place for their members.