November 17, 2017

    This article first appeared as "Social media - your best ROI in a tough market" in Association TRENDS.


    Mention “social media” or “social networking” or “social technologies” to a senior organizational manager and you usually get some sort of a blank stare in return. There is so much noise in the popular media about Twitter and Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning, Zing, Plaxo, etc., that you can’t blame anyone who is not following this field regularly to feel a bit out of the loop. (Kind of “LinkedOut” perhaps?)

    There is a fair amount of confusion among association management teams about what role social media should play in the organization. There is also a widely divergent view of what social media is about, how to use it and whether you can even measure its potential impact.

    While it is important to understand what the technology tools can do, this is really starting at the wrong end of the business strategy process for social media. Many groups are falling into the “ready, fire, aim” scenario by starting with social media before they have developed a plan for it.

    The good news is, a social media strategy is less about technology and more about member engagement, something that associations have been focused on for years.

    Today, your stakeholder groups are organizing themselves on multiple platforms, some within your association but increasingly outside your association as well. To many, this is a threat and unwelcomed competition. However, the proliferation of self-formed groups represents great opportunities to raise awareness of your association with potential members and new clients.

    According to a recent study of almost 500 organizations on social media use, 78% do not have a dedicated budget or resource allocated to social media management in the organization. However, social media projects are being run today in these organizations, usually led by the communications, marketing and membership depts. More attention needs to be placed on how to intelligently use social media to drive member engagement and to generating measureable ROI.

    Social media, intelligently applied, offers the opportunity to do more with less by empowering member and customer communities to help carry the organization’s message and by creating value in the network for each other.

    And this is the best ROI you could have!

    To take part in the Social Media Use Survey and receive a free copy of the report of the findings, go to To learn more about social media strategy and to access free resources including white papers, video and animations, webinars and articles, go to or contact Barkan at 202-294-5563.



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