Posts filed under ‘Volunteer Strategy’

Ad Hoc Learning – 7 Trends Pushing the Popularity of Simplified Web Video-Based Education and Learning in Associations

by Stuart Meyer

Learn as if you were to live forever”.  Ghandi

SM_12-4-12_edited-1A few years ago, I served as a contributing author and speaker on ASAE’s Decision to Volunteer research project and publication where we popularized the term “ad hoc volunteer”.  An ad hoc volunteer is one who engages in a single-task volunteer assignment as opposed to a volunteer serving a formal long-term commitment on a committee or project team.  While we uncovered the opportunities presented by ad hoc volunteer roles, including increasing levels of loyalty and personal investment, we also learned that the formal governance structure of associations needed to become better equipped to leverage the potential of ad hoc volunteers.

Today, we’re learning the desire for ad hoc association participation is not limited to volunteerism.  In simplified terms, “ad hoc participation” from a member perspective means I don’t presently have the time for formal participation but desire opportunities for informal participation as time and interest warrants.  Further transposed to the evolving media world around us, it could be characterized as the “I want what I want when I want it and how I want it” trend.

The notion of “ad hoc learning” is certainly not a new concept as just about every conference pre/post evaluation survey and focus group I’ve conducted over the years always highlights the transforming experience and value of peer-to-peer informal learning and education-based networking… that “aha” moment when we’re standing at a conference during a break having a substantive conversation with another attendee and suddenly the “light bulb” finally goes on and our professional plight feels a little less lonely.

The opportunity for associations is determining how to satisfy this “everything-on-demand” generation of customers/members as a bridge to strengthening value, engagement, brand sentiment, loyalty and deepening levels of involvement.  The question is… will we continue to make them come to us or will we find better ways to go to them.

As we look out upon current trends, the notion of learning and how we gather the information we need, it’s certainly far from a news flash that much has changed over the past 10-20 years.  The key opportunity and strategy I see each and every day in my work is to simplify learning and access to learning as much as possible as an “everyday learning” compliment to our more formal means of web-based learning.

Let’s take a look 7 key trends driving our associations toward the demand for on-demand video-based ad hoc learning.

1) Video vs. Text Preferences

In 2010, Forbes shared a series of findings relating to web-based video.  According to their data, 59% of senior executives prefer to watch a video instead of reading text, if both are available on the same page.  80% are watching more online video today than they were a year ago. Finally, more than half of senior executives share videos with colleagues at least weekly and receive work-related videos as often.  From a consumer standpoint, in 2012 Retail Touchpoints reported that consumers who viewed video were 174% more likely to purchase than viewers who did not.  Whether using informal video-based learning as a compliment to text articles or the other way around, the opportunity to deepen the experience and sharing is clear.

2) Mobile Technology and Rise in Screen Time

The explosion of mobile smartphones and tablet devices continue to require us to determine how we optimize our content/product/information/services to best suit life on a mobile device screen and situational consumption patterns.  Google has suggested that within the next couple of years, nearly 90% of web traffic will be video-based mainly due to the rise of mobile technology.  Single topic video-based ad hoc learning lends itself to the mobile experience.

3)  TEDtalks

TED, short for Technology, Entertainment and Design, is non-profit organization driven by a global grassroots movement to advance “ideas worth sharing”.  A major component of TED is their online video TEDtalk series which are typically highly topic-focused presentations delivered during TEDx events which take place all over the world.  In a nutshell, TED has conditioned us toward ad hoc web video-based learning and over the past year my company, Social Frequency Media Communications, has worked with a number of clients in producing TED-style web video series as a form of simplified ad hoc learning… ranging from virtual speaker showcases to multi-episode topic-driven video series.

4)  Time… or the Lack Thereof

Dr. James McQuivey, Vice-President of Forrester Research, has been quoted as saying “a minute of video is worth 1.8 million words”.  Produced properly, video is a simple yet powerful form of communication that is more like a sit-back form of entertainment as opposed to a sit-forward mental activity.  Where once we were only “connected” if we were sitting in front of a PC, today we are continuously connected to our devices and, increasingly, through web-enabled smart TVs.

5)  Every other aspect of your customers/members lives

Your association’s customers/members live in a world of on-demand instant gratification options and your competition is every other form of streaming media, including Netflix and Hulu.  The difference between today’s online association video practices and the early days of low-viewership poor quality flip cam video is strategy, quality, marketing and distribution.  A simple eye-opening exercise is to compare your current lineup of YouTube videos side-by-side with your glossy association magazine and ask yourself if there is an equitable commitment/investment in production quality.  When it comes to our magazines, webinars, conferences and annual meetings we leave very little to chance in terms of production, marketing and promotion.  It’s time for associations to invest the same amount of energy in web video broadcast practices as poor quality cheapens both brand and credibility where high quality serves the strengthen brand and credibility.

6)  Rise of Niche, the Decline of Linear

Chris Anderson, author of The Long Tail, advances the notion that “The niche is now king, and the entertainment industry – from music to movies to TV – will never be the same.”  Let’s face it, if your association’s video-based learning strategy isn’t generating series of content focusing on every possible niche topic within your profession the reality is someone else will do so.  The opportunity is great with the main risk being inaction.   Further, instead of producing a single linear 45 minute learning-based video, break it up into more “bite-size” narrow topics and present a series of shorter, more focused videos given the viewer the option to view everything or to focus only on the topics most relevant to them.  Additionally, putting the viewer in control of what they watch can also increase additional views and sharing.

7)  The Opportunity of Portability

When it comes to our association publications, we’ve always dreamed of the “viral” scenario in which each issue is carefully routed around the office getting in front of as many people as possible.  Today, online video is portable not only in the sense we can take it anywhere we go via mobile technologies but the url-based format simplifies online portability in our ability to easily share video with others either through email, text or social channels.  If video-based learning content is locked down in an LMS or only available via a live webinar, a big portion of the opportunity is lost.  For this reason, its important to treat your ad hoc video-based learning strategy as a compliment to your other formal education programming.

So there you have it, a look at the evolution and trends surrounding web video-based ad hoc learning within associations as a means to strengthening value, engagement and brand sentiment.  To see an example of what it looks like, click here to see a 4-part AAO-HNS web series which was produced by Social Frequency Media Communications.

Stuart Meyer is President and Founder of Social Frequency Media Communications, a turnkey new media innovation and production company with 12 years of association management experience dedicated to helping associations develop, integrate, produce and manage a strong web TV broadcast network and presence.  He can be reached at stuart(at)socialfrequency(DOT)net


June 26, 2013 at 11:00 am Leave a comment

“Lights! Cameras! Interaction! 5 Internet TV Strategies for a New Era of Member Engagement

Imagine your association or trade organization having its own television network full of “must-see” original series-based and niche programming which draws in a loyal audience of members, non-members and relevant stakeholders.  It begins with great storytelling.

Good storytelling is like a “window”, but great storytelling serves as both a “window” and “mirror” reflection upon your audience’s own experiences, interests and core values.  Good stories appeal to us on a rational level but great storytelling reaches the heart and soul which leaves us feeling a stronger connection and “kinship” with the story, its subjects and origin.

Despite these truths, as membership professionals we’ve spent years doing our best working within the limitations of the communications channels and platforms we’ve had at our disposal in our attempt to engage members in our messaging, stories and networking.

While video is considered to be the most effective multi-sensory form of communication, it has largely been out-of-reach for most of us until the recent evolution of web video.  Despite growing access to web broadcast channels and video platforms, one might conclude that our industry’s approach to video strategy has been somewhat primitive at best.

In the end, it’s not the format of video itself that creates a compelling story-driven experience, but rather the way in which we utilize video as a tool to tell powerful series-driven stories which create that ongoing “window” and “mirror” reflection that strengthens the way members identify and engage our associations.

Interactive internet TV technology is gaining steam and when you consider the reach of internet-based video across living room TV screens, computer screens, tablets and mobile phones, the opportunity becomes clearer.  However, it’s going to take more than a couple of flip cams to get on the right track toward producing the right series and programming.  Below are some strategies to help you get started:

1)  Develop Channel Segments: Just as we define membership segments, it is equally important to define the key audiences you would like to reach.  Audience segmentation can help you not only plan the most relevant series/episodic content but also help you prioritize creative development.

2)  Interactive Video Platforms and Tools: There are more options out there than you might think.  Emerging technologies, such as Coincident TV, are providing an early glimpse into the full potential of truly interactive internet-based TV.  This technology converts passive viewers into fully engaged active participants who are in control of the viewing experience.  This type of video technology is hardwired for social networking and enables the producer to create behavior-prompting “cue points” during the video which to convert compelling “moments” into actions.   Click here to consider the possibilities.

3) Story Format and Series Planning: We live in the age of reality-style TV, which is essentially a documentary-style form of storytelling.  Immersing audiences into the center of a story in an authentic way is not only compelling, but also a far less expensive form of production than “staged” programming.  Consider the prospect of following a member/s over multiple episodes, entering into their daily life and experiences.  The premise of the series should be rooted in the key messages, themes and goals your associations seeks to convey, only your messengers are real members telling/living real and relatable stories.

4)  Sponsor-Integrated Programming: The need to generate non-dues revenue is a trend that will likely not go away anytime soon.  Sponsors seek to create a close strategic alignment/relationship with your members.  The challenge is granting sponsors the level of integration they desire while at the same avoiding disruption and value-detraction.  Interactive original internet-based video programming offers the creative possibility of incorporating sponsors as meaningful story elements incorporating the CTV style of capabilities above.  Perhaps the best news of all, original series-based programming is not only a great vehicle for sponsors but also an excellent means by which to underwrite production costs.       

5)  Leveraging Series Stars as Association Surrogates: The cascading benefit of an effective internet TV strategy is you are creating an air of “celebrity” around the “stars” you feature as part of your series-based programming.  These association “celebrities” can become amazing surrogates and spokespersons for your association at a number of key levels.  Looking for an example, watch this example which contributed a spike in membership for the Emergency Nurses Association.

Need more examples to jumpstart your storytelling, take a look at these soon-to-be-released non-profit examples from America’s Chefs and The Exchange Club .

In the end, as you develop your internet TV strategy always keep in mind you are building a deeper and broader level of engagement with your members.

April 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm 2 comments

What Social Media Means to Associations – Beyond Mere Facebook Pages and Twitter Accounts

I’ve recently had the wonderful opportunity to deliver presentations to a variety of individuals and organisations regarding how social media is already transforming the future of associations.  Through these experiences, I’ve listened carefully to fears, perceptions and admirable admissions of a lack of functional understanding relating to what social media means to associations.

I also hear allot about Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, as if that is somehow enough to leverage the potential of the social web.  The reality is social media is more than a communication channel, rather it is a one-to-one and one-to-many conversation and relationship-building tool.  The same types of conversations and relationships we have been engaging in with current and prospective members for years.  It’s also a business strategy, just like other vital aspects of organizational operations provided it is already acceptable for staff to answer the phone and handle attendee questions at conferences.

Simply put:

The social web is an opportunity to expand your association sphere by listening, connecting, engaging and building vital relationships which expands your association sphere.

Why is this important?  Because conversations and relationships are what led to the creation of associations in the first place.  Further, social cohesion is the glue which holds together and propels our organizations.

A member’s commitment to an association is measured by the extent to which they feel a connected part of the organization.  The way members connect to an association is through some form of engagement or participation.  Before the social web, it required a greater sacrifice and investment to participate (planes, trains and automobiles), but today the social web provides an inexhaustible opportunity to connect and participate.

As the saying goes, the more things change, the more they remain the same.  The social web is simply a smarter tool with which we can adapt and greatly expand our mission.  With the right organizational foundation, we can all be ready when Facebook inevitably becomes tomorrow’s MySpace.  While the platforms will continue to change, the “rules” will always remain the same.

I designed the cluster symbol above to demonstrate the way in which a like-minded group of people bond together to form an association.  Clusters form within associations to initiate new projects and components.  Today, new clusters are forming outside the walls of your association, in almost every case not to replace you but to give rise to issues and concerns facing a trade or profession.  As associations, our goal is to reach out and create new bonds with individuals and groups working in support of our interests.  This symbol is also the official symbol of my new consulting practice, Social Frequency Media, which I started out of a deep desire to help associations transform their futures and leverage the potential of social media.  I hope you will find the above information and other postings here at Association 2020 useful.  SM

December 7, 2009 at 2:12 pm 3 comments

FTC Guides Suggest Social Media Policies and Procedures Might Reduce Liability Risks

100_2987At the onset of this post, I want to be very clear that I am not intending to send fear coursing through the veins of senior management nor should this be construed as a “let’s all find another reason to fear social media”.

Quite conversely, part of leveraging a strong social media business strategy is ensuring the appropriate operational controls are in place.  Policies, standardized practices and process are a responsible part of any business strategy and the business strategy of social media should be no exception.

This week, potential liability regarding the use of social media hit home as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released new Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising.  Essentially, the new guides will work to ensure a higher level of honesty and transparency in the use of the social web for the purpose of marketing in terms of “pay to say” disclosure and factual representations.

Though I am not  a lawyer (nor have I ever played one on TV) and always encourage consultation with legal counsel, I did read through the 81 page FTC document yesterday and came across an important consideration which I don’t believe has been adequately highlighted.  That consideration is the liability an employer faces for the actions of employees engaging in social media activities either within or outside the scope of their work responsibilities.   The FTC addresses this scenario in response to a question which appears to have arisen during an open comment period relating to employer liability.  Below is a verbatim excerpt from the FTC’s response:

“…although the Commission has brought law enforcement actions against companies whose failure to establish or maintain appropriate internal procedures resulted in consumer injury, it is not aware of any instance in which an enforcement action was brought against a company for the actions of a single “rogue” employee who violated established company policy that adequately covered the conduct in question…  The Commission does not believe, however, that it needs to spell out the procedures that companies should put in place to monitor compliance with the principles set forth in the Guides; these are appropriate subjects for advertisers to determine for themselves, because they have the best knowledge of their business practices, and thus of the processes that would best fulfill their responsibilities.” see page 48 of the complete FTC document for full text

What this means is it is time to create social media policies and practices within your organization which carefully balance innovative business uses of social media with clear lines drawn on unacceptable practices.

While it is my intention to use my Association 2020 blog to add value to our community rather than endlessly promote my consulting practice, Social Frequency Media Communications, this is one instance where I want everyone to know that social media internal policy and procedure development is a core part of my services.  Click here to learn more about Social Frequency Media Communications or feel free to contact me directly at

October 9, 2009 at 10:24 am Leave a comment

My Thanks to SCSAE Annual Meeting Attendees and Leadership

SCSAE 2009I want to send out a special hello and expression of gratitude to the attendees of the 2009 South Carolina Society of Association Executives (SCSAE) Annual Conference as well as the leadership and staff of SCSAE, especially Executive Director Keely Yates.  It was truly an honor to be in the presence of such a talented and devoted group of association professionals. 

I also want to commend the Isle of Palms Wild Dunes Resort  just outside of Charleston, South Carolina for providing such a wonderful and vibrant environment for SCSAE’s Annual Conference. 

During this week’s conference, I had the opportunity to co-present a general session and CEO breakout session covering the development of volunteer and participation strategies,  building upon key findings from  ASAE and the Center for Association Leadership’s  Decision to Volunteer study.

I also want to personally thank my experienced and knowledgeable co-presenter, Ron McNally, CAE, ASAE and the Center’s Chief Community & Volunteer Relations Officer.

In addition to the covering the key findings and implications of Decision to Volunteer, we also explored a framework for how to institutionalize a volunteer and participation strategy, focusing on volunteer activity audits, volunteer profiling/data management,  recruitment techniques, volunteer placement, recognition and establishing a leadership pipeline. 

We also discussed how “Social Media is Like Volunteerism on Steroids” emphasizing the importance of participant engagement, conversations, relationship-building and understanding that it’s okay to “lose control” with the proper goals and “rules of engagement”.   To SCSAE Immediate Past President David Herndon’s delight, we also considered how the science of chemistry provides an analogy for how social media will strengthen our association’s sphere.   

To the attendees reading this post, I invite you to comment below or follow-up with me directly if you have any more questions or observations to share.  Beyond that, I truly hope our paths will cross again as we continue to build a strong future for associations.

June 16, 2009 at 7:41 pm Leave a comment

The Role of the Emotional Value Proposition in Cultivating Member Loyalty and Activism

Paris Balcony_b&w photograph by Stuart MeyerIf there was one thing an association marketing team must do is put the general principles of behavioral economics into practice at all levels of strategy, tactics and relationships.
Behavioral economics reveals the power of emotion in decision-making even in the presence of rational facts. Think of it as what I termed a couple of years ago as Association EQ or the Emotional Value Proposition (EVP).  Decision-making behavior of any kind is as much comprised of our impulsive emotional psychology as it is our ability to rationalize or think logically.
Allot of associations do a good job of skimming the surface of logical behavior through research in constructing their practical value proposition, but many miss the significant opportunity to venture deeper into the layers of emotional psychology which drives motivation and behavior beyond the bounds of practical value.

Satisfy a member’s intellectual need and they may hang on for a little longer. Cultivate a humanizing emotional connection between the member and your association and you might have them as a loyal member and promoter for life… or as long as they still like what they do for a living. 

To me, great marketing is about making a human connection at a personal level which results in a sense of belonging. Doing so can be achieved through direct interactions or by indirect emotive multi-sensory storytelling.  An example of the first would include traditional one-to-one networking or the considerable opportunities presented by online networking-based social media.  An example of the second would be a powerful story told via a fusion of messaging, sight and/or sound, such as a documentary video.

At a primitive level, member loyalty is rooted in a two-way sense of caring, I care about the association because I perceive through my experiences that the association cares about me, not just as a professional but most importantly as a human being. 

As human beings, when we care about something we also tend to become protective of its interest. For associations, this translates into voluntary activist behavior which serves to either promote the association or defend it against detractors.  Keep thinking the value and potential of making personalized human connections via social media and suddenly Twitter will start to make allot of sense.

Don’t think any of this is true? Try the following questions during your next focus group or one-on-one interview, sit forward and listen carefully to the responses:

– How does it “feel” to be a member of this profession?

– How does it “feel” when you are practicing this profession on any given day?

– How does it “feel” to be a member of this association?

– How does it “feel” to be at this conference?

– When you interact with members, how does it make you “feel”?

– When you interact with association staff, how does it make you “feel”?

– When you interact with leaders of this association, how does it make you “feel”?

– How does it “feel”… you get the idea.

One additional bonus note, behavioral economics not only applies to the role of emotional psychology in the decision-making process of members but also the actions of board leaders, senior management, internal departments, colleagues, direct reports, indirect reports, external stakeholders, media, the general public, neighbors, relatives, husbands, wives, children and even the DMV. In other words, any member of the human race.

In closing, here are two of my favorite guiding quotes when it comes to the emotional complexity of human decision making as it relates to marketing or any endeavor:

I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care.”  Unknown 

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  Maya Angelou

May 7, 2009 at 7:30 pm Leave a comment

Social Media’s Impact on the Lifetime Value of Non-Members and Lapsed Members

For years, associations have been contemplating and calculating the lifetime value of a member.  In other words, the measure of the tangible value of a member who maintains her membership over a period of time minus the cost of servicing that membership. 

As we continue to move rapidly through the not-so-new frontier of the social web, we need to also look at another important lifetime value measure… that is the lifetime value of non-members and lapsed members.  The truth is we should have been looking at this particular measure even before the arrival of the social web years ago. 

Why you might ask?  First, because word-of-mouth marketing has been around since the dawn of spoken language.  An individual need not be a paying member, or customer, to create or detract value from your association. 

If favorable impressions about your association resides within the hearts and minds of non-members and lapsed members alike, there is always a higher likelihood that they would have favorable perspectives to share with their friends and colleagues that may influence tangible behavior.  Likewise, if unfavorable thoughts about your association occupy that expanse between the skull and the chest cavity of lapsed members and non-members, then there is an even higher likelihood that word-of-mouth communication will take place… the brand of communication that keeps association executives up at night.   

Enter, stage right, the social web.  Given the expansive reach of communication and interaction offered to virtually anyone with a computer and Internet connection, the sphere of influence impacting our association’s subject-matter has grown well beyond the walls of membership.  As such, the traditional notions of value creation has moved well beyond the tangible contributions of loyal members into the intangible, yet influential sphere of the social web.

Members are no longer the only game in town when it comes to value creation and influence.  While members are the cherished core of our associations,  we must expand our perspective and reach and engage the many influencers and, yes, detractors that are out there talking either directly or indirectly about our associations.  Remember, legitimate detractors most often complain because they care enough to participate and want to be heard.  With that said, be careful to not confuse reasonable detractors with incoherent crazies.

There is also the layer of lurking participants who may not be out there creating content, but are certainly tuning in. 

Your association’s social media strategy should factor in the tangible and intangible value of those lapsed members and non-members who are both visible and active out on the social web.  Even more, if you make the right connection you stand to gain even more than the value-generating relationship, conversation and content… you might actually win them back or bring them on board for the very first time as members as well as their followers.

By now, I’m sure some of you have already asked the inevitable question… “Sounds great, but how do you measure the lifetime value of lapsed members and non-members?”.  The answer depends on your association’s defined measures for success relating to social media strategy.  It’s not always immediate dollars as social media is relationship and conversation-based marketing by its very nature.  Put another way, it’s like planting seeds to fertile soil which you nurture and cultivate. 

However, there are measures including:

– Web analytics, links, demographics, ratings, Technorati ranking of content sources, qualitative comment analysis, content timing and more..


– Membership growth, inbound web traffic, conference registration, product sales and much more. 

Another way to measure offline value creation would be to develop benchmark snapshots of membership and customer geography (city, county, state, region, country) and track increasing/decreasing trends over time.  While the social web is universal, we all have a geographic point of origin which is our physical social sphere.

Don’t forget that you can actively track re-captured members.  Further, you can create “customer” records in your AMS for key social web influencers/participants and run periodic anlaysis to see who has joined. 

There’s still the good old-fashioned means of asking new members and customers how they first learned about your association.  Beyond the generic social media sources (such as Twitter, Facebook, etc) to specific blogs or other social communities run by key influencers.

The most important consideration is to be creative, experimental and open-minded as you fight off the temptation to become paralyzed by the illusion of perfection.

May 5, 2009 at 10:50 am Leave a comment

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