Social Media and Associations


A few weeks ago I was thinking about how professional associations can boost their membership. Admittedly there is a natural attrition rate, and people also have higher expectations wanting their associations to demonstrate value. Thought leader Gwynne Monahan said that often times the associations engage in push marketing with members as the group pushes out information but does not truly engage with their members. All this fed into my own exploration of social media as communications channels for organizations. If your group is not on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, why not? People across all ages and demographics expect a social presence now. By staying on the sidelines, the conversations are happening without XYZ company and it might hurt the bottom line, stir up and spread misinformation, or make recruiting staff a more difficult task.

Getting back to professional associations, I join them for their networking and educational opportunities to keep me informed in my industry. For starters, organizers with associations can mine Melissa Harrison’s post on “The state of social media in associations and what to do about it”  for some ways to revitalize a group with social media. Networking is probably a top reason for members joining so groups need to ramp up their efforts. It can be as easy as recognizing and congratulating members on work well done. Also if the group is already involved in good causes in the greater community, then publicizing those service projects as a way to promote good causes as well as build membership cohesion.

Now more than ever the world is shrinking, but at the same time people need to feel a sense of engaging in a community, or a conversation on what their peers are doing. Thanks to Gwynne Monahan @econwriter5 and @ABABarServices for the inspiration.

– Brenda


One Response to “Social Media and Associations”

  1. 1 Karen

    I think you raise a very good point about the need to engage members. My own experience has been limited to belinging to a university alumni association. My understanding is that in the 60s and 70s many students joined the alumni immediately after graduation, and stayed active in the group until present time. Later, by the 80s, many graduates opted out of “joining” almost anything until much later, if at all. What we have now is an organization that consists largely of folks in their late 60s and 70s. They are ahead of many in that age bracket in that they have added an on-line web aedition to the print magazine for the alumni, but taking that next step to social media engagement is a big one. And – of course – the audience they really want to reach is in the 20-35 year old age range, the majority of whom are focusing on social media. My question is this – even if the alumni were to find or even employ a “social media” champion to reach out and engage the younger graduates on their platforms of choice, ie social media – is there an interest there? Is the “disengagement” from joining more formal organization due to not using the right means to engage (ie social media), or is it simply a lack of interest in joining any type of organization of that nature. I ask this because my own personal survey would say that people aren’t “joining” many formal organizations any more. Alumni, sororal, professional, etc. The interest may not be there, or perhaps something has filled the niche. I think it’s a good question.

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