Posts tagged ‘engagement’

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

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December 7, 2009 at 2:12 pm 3 comments

12 Ways Social Media is Different than Traditional Mass Media

Social Frequency_symbolThe social web has changed the media communications landscape in a way much of the world has yet to fully understand.  Simply put, the social web has created almost a reverse flow in the traditional mass media world in which user-generated content and consumer activism is reaching more audiences than brand messaging.

Those businesses and organizations who refuse to begin charting a path toward collaborative and conversational social media communications models will eventually find their high-paid mass media messages generating a lonely echo on a faint frequencies.

Fear not my friends.  Below you will find a comparison of 11 ways in which social media is different than traditional mass media which will hopefully get those right brain neurons firing in a new direction.

1)  Traditional Mass Media is passive consumer participation, Social Media is active consumer participation.

2)  Traditional Mass Media is one-way “one-to-many” communication, Social Media is two-way “one-to-one” communication.

3)  Traditional Mass Media targets isolated consumersSocial Media connects consumers who generate conversations and content.

4)  Traditional Mass Media is message-driven, Social Media is conversation-driven.

5)  Traditional Mass Media is built around perceived brand control, Social Media is built around shared control and humanizing transparency.

6)  Traditional Mass Media consists of a limited set of targeted channels, Social Media consists of a conceivably unlimited number of targeted channels.

7)  Traditional Mass Media impressions are fleeting with awareness subsiding after date of publication/broadcast, Social Media conversations and content are lasting and continually discoverable via search engines.

8)  Traditional Mass Media is brand-driven, Social Media is service and consumer-driven.

9)  Traditional Mass Media has limited reach with increasing cost as reach expands, Social Media offers unlimited reach and micro-targeting while investment remains relatively constant.

10)  Traditional Mass Media is a financial investment in paid channels and creative, Social Media is a social investment in people, conversation and user-generated content.

11) Traditional Mass Media carries varying levels of credibility and authenticity, Social Media is conveys a stronger sense of credibility and authenticity.

12)  Traditional Mass Media is like night, Social Media is like day.

While the above picture has been painted with a broad brush and is far from complete, I believe the progression of social media to date has proven these thoughts to be fundamentally true and are becoming truer by the day.  What will be your next move?

September 30, 2009 at 11:40 am Leave a comment

5 Ways to Get into the Flow of Social Media

DSC_0131Below are  5 ways to use social media to expand your organization’s sphere of engagement, interaction, particiaption and influence: 

1)  Develop a comprehensive relationship-focused social media strategy driven by the mission and strategy of your association.

2)  Conduct a social media audit to identify all groups and influencers within your association’s social sphere. 

3)  Engage regularly in social media monitoring, utilizing keyword-based search tools built into popular social media platforms or third party applications.

4)  Operationalize the use of social media as a business tool at levels of the organization.

5)  Be authentic, experiment, make connections, build relationships and cultivate brand ambassadors.

August 24, 2009 at 10:03 am Leave a comment

How Social Media Broadens the Association Sphere and Transforms the “Nature” of our Future

stuart-meyer2With the announcement of the Google Wave, the internet’s newest and next “big thing”, many associations still continue to ponder whether or not social media threatens the very fabric of their existence.

My answer would be an emphatic “absolutely not”.  As our associations move rapidly to join our future… already in progress… the opportunity presented by social media for associations is just the opposite of threat. 

Whereas the traditional “social sphere” of associations has been nestled within the physical core of actively involved members who like to get on airplanes and fly thousands of miles a year to get connected, social media will continue to expand and broaden our “social sphere” if we chose to reach out, engage and replace our tall ivory walls with a more transparent and porous material.

In other words, the tide of social media shifts our social sphere in a good way because the challenge of connecting and creating cohesion within our association’s broader professional community is now shared.  Our job is to shed our illusion of control, celebrate those who are connecting outside our walls, reach out, be present, listen carefully, connect, build relationships and cultivate the type of powerful social capital which will draw those in the broader social sphere into the “nucleus” of the association.

Always remember, people complain because they care and simply want to be heard.  There is immense and transforming power when you listen, engage, establish the conversation and watch the relationship grow.  

Think of chemistry and how an atom is formed by a strong nucleus (the association) with electrons (traditionally loyal members) that are bound to the nucleus by “electromagnetic force”.  An atom can be positively charged (progressive) or negatively charged (change averse).  The social web is sending new types of atoms into the larger sphere within which associations have traditionally operated creating the opportunity of atoms joining together to form new and powerful elements.  Elements are the building blocks of “nature” itself.

Let’s be very clear, people connect with the social web not because they want to be isolated and enjoy hearing themselves speak, but rather they are attempting to fulfill the basic human need to connect to something larger. 

It is essential that we transform and expand our thinking in knowing that social media strategy is a relationship-building and engagement strategy which should be driven by the mission and goals of the association.  In addition to serving members we are now in the position to reach farther in connecting with and serving a larger sphere of participants and influencers… all of which are prospective electrons moving toward that electromagnetic force which will ultimately draw them toward the nucleus.  Staff at all levels, with basic rules of engagement, have the opportunity to monitor, listen and make these connections.  

Further, think of non-member social web participants and influencers in your space as “surrogates” who care and want to be heard.  The bar is not as high as one might think in creating relationships that will move these individuals into the role of promoter and prospective member. 

Remember, control is an illusion and the next time a discussion of social media turns to fear and threat, you can now tell the group to not worry because it’s positively “elemental”. 

You may now be excused to connect with your former high school chemistry teacher on Facebook to thank them for making you suffer.

June 4, 2009 at 8:01 pm 1 comment


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