Watch a short video interview from BestSeller TV to gain insight into the book co-authored by Shelly Alcorn, CAE and Willis Turner, CAE. More information about the book here.
Close your inbox, log off of Facebook and take a few minutes to focus on some things you should be doing right now that will impact the future of your association. Here are five key areas to get you started:
- Engage your members on-line in social communities. It has never been enough just to have a social media presence, or even just one channel as your favourite. Your members and your community expect more. They expect you to communicate through the channel of their choice. Engagement goes beyond promotion. In fact engagement is not about promotion, it is about sharing ideas and responding. Pick some topics, even controversial, relevant to the topic domain of your association and start a dialogue. Subscribing to some thought provoking websites (Ted Talks, Mashable, Techchrunch) that consolidate and curate content can spark your creative juices. Linking and sharing some of their articles is an easy way to start a discussion about a trending topic. Allocate a few minutes of each day on your calendar to feed and groom your social channels.
- Engage your members offline. Use the telephone, social events, meetups and events to have some in-person face time with your members. A perfect time to pick up the phone is when you receive an email from a member. They might be surprised by the phone call, but I guarantee it will go a long way toward building member loyalty.
- Talk about the Elephant in the Room. You know the ONE! Every association
has its elephant, some are sacred cows masquerading as elephants so as not to be discussed! Communication becomes so much better when you tackle those tough decisions. Whether it is declining event attendance, financial woes or other pending doom, there is a good chance that some smart people in the room will have a solution. But it won’t be apparent if no one is having the discussion.
- Do all things SEO daily. Blogging, META, keywords, tagged photos, organic and paid search, otherwise known as feeding Google are critically important in today’s association world. Your association is competing with for-profit entities that look and feel like non-profit, but believe me, they are out to make a buck and they are investing in technology, digital marketing and other tools to beat you at the game.
- If you’re not doing the above 4, then run for the hills. You and your association may be in danger of losing your relevance in a world where fast paced changes in technology and easy access to expanding knowledge domains could lead your members to believe they can get along quite nicely without you.
If your social media initiative doesn’t have support from senior management, it may be doomed to fail. Support needs to go much further than budget approval and releasing funds. When we talk about senior management, we are not just referring to the chief of staff, we are talking about the volunteer leadership team and its key members.
Why do we think it is so imperative that key association leaders are involved? If social tools are being developed to enhance member engagement, lack of presence by the top association players sends a pretty powerful contrary signal to the membership.
We’ve often said that a social site that has no activity is like a party without music. You wouldn’t stay long at the party, and web surfers will alight but will be off to something more interesting in one quick click. Association leaders need to be actively championing the social initiative by being involved in key business decisions and mandating participation by key team leaders. Without this, association staff will feel the lack of buy-in, ultimately leading to implementation and maintenance failure.
There should also be a regular dialogue between association staff and volunteer leadership to discuss progress achieved and to ensure that the projects are on target and results are evident. This will go a long way towards ensuring a successful social media presence.
On July 2nd, 2011 I encountered my first (known) online identity theft. Someone successfully hacked into my Facebook account using a Mountainview, CA IP address and proceeded to impersonate me using my Facebook messaging and posting to Facebook friend's walls. They also setup a fake Yahoo email account using my name in the email address and solicited Facebook friends whose email addresses were available from their Facebook profile.
The solicitation emails claimed that I was injured in a car accident while attending a conference on climate change in London, my cell phone was lost in the accident and I needed money for hospital bills and airfare to return home.
Fortunately no one that I know of fell for the scam, however one person did engage in a conversation using Facebook messaging in an approach towards responding out of concern for me. Some Facebook friends saw it immediately for what it was and responded very firmly telling the hacker to get lost, knowing that I would never send an email solicitation like that.
Facebook security locked my account within 1 hour of the occurrence and required that I use their security system to verify my ownership of the account before I could get control back.
Here are 7 lessons I learned that you might find helpful:
- If this ever happens to you, immediately change the password to any email account that you have associated with your Facebook account. Hackers usually gain access to your email first and then move on to your Facebook account.
- Verify that your forwarding rules have not been changed in your email account. Hackers who gain control often change the forwarding rules so that they can access your incoming emails.
- Setup and adhere to a regular schedule for changing your on-line passwords.
- Use alphanumeric passwords whenever possible.
- Use different passwords for email accounts and social networking sites.
- Be wary of 3rd party applications that connect to your Facebook or other social networking accounts in order to share information on your wall. Some of these applications may in fact disclose your password to cyber criminals.
- Hide your email address(es) on your Facebook information tab. Hackers who gain entry to your Facebook Friend's accounts will be able to harvest your email address to use in their cyber criminal efforts.
I have personally heard from more than one person who lost the access to some of their social media accounts and profiles because they only associated a company email address with their account. Not a great idea if you lose your job or leave the company. Your employer owns your email account and usually deletes it when you leave.
For example, if your company email address is the primary and only email address associated with your LinkedIn profile, you stand to lose your profile access and all of your network contacts. Here is a tip right from the LinkedIn site:
You can change, add or remove email addresses on your LinkedIn account from the Settings page. We strongly recommend that you have more than one email address on your account. This will allow you to sign in to your account if you lose access to your primary email address. Your primary email address is where you want LinkedIn communications to be sent.
To see your current email settings:
- Move your cursor over your name in the top right of your home page and then click Settings.
- Go to the Personal Information section and click Email Addresses.
It is clear that the recent revolutionary activity in the Middle East can be attributed in part to the role that social media has played in creating communication channels for citizens to express their malcontent and to rally others around a cause. Some are even calling it a digital revolution, while in China, the term "Jasmine Revolution" has been blocked on the country's Internet and even the seemingly business minded LinkedIn has been banned because the group function can be used to spread information about a cause.
There is one key ingredient that takes a revolution to the streets, and that is passion for the cause. If people believe strongly in the cause, they will even take risks to their own life in order to see the fruit of their passion. So, thanks in part to social media, dictators have been put on notice.
So, let's examine the parallel between the dictator powered regimes and the association world. Organizations who do not operate transparently are in danger of being overruled by individuals who care deeply about the organization's cause. Even a hint or perception of a tight network of "cronies" running an organization behind a veil of secrecy is cause for a revolution.
While social media has the potential of doing great things, perhaps one of the greatest benefits is the pressure that it puts on organizations to operate transparently. Your organization and its leaders may not have any intention of wrong doing, but may be overcome by just the perception. Now is not the time to "block out" the network. Rather it is time to listen in and hear what your caring community is talking about.
Erik Qualman, the creator of the original viral video, "Social Media Revolution", has done it again with his latest video, "Social Media Revolution 2".
The need for the video to be revised just 10 months after its original debut is an example of the speed at which social media is developing, growing, and improving constantly.
So how are YOU using this explosive tool to reach your association market?
I love technology, and in the worst of moments, I hate it too. Sound familiar? One of my recent frustrations is that Google has discontinued "Pages" on its group sites. Care to guess how many groups I have setup in Google? Clue: Way too many! Another challenge with Google is getting the less tech savvy group members up the learning curve of creating a Google account. Yes, believe it or not, there are people who don't 'belong'.
So, along comes Wiggio. Created by two Cornell grads, this site puts and end to the multiple sites and configurations for managing groups. And you can invite people to your group without them having a Wiggio account. Multiple groups? Simply toggle between the groups. Multiple calendars? Consolidate the view so that all of your group activities are shown in one calendar.
Communicating? You have email, text messaging, voice and post-it note options. Virtual meetings and conference calls? No problem. Check it out, you'll love the intuitive user interface, too.
I'm so excited I won't be able to sleep tonight! Good-bye Google….well Google Groups, anyway.