Are You Wired?: Harnessing Social Media

Not every association's needs are the same regarding social media. Tailor it to both your members and their needs.

While once upon a time corporate and nonprofit employers discouraged employees from using social media because it was viewed as a time-waster, akin to chatting about Mad Men at the water cooler, it’s now ground zero for communication and promotion within associations.

Social [media] is a big change that associations have dealt with. How do we leverage it?

Many organizations are creating tech councils that set the policies for employee behavior on social networks, says John Sullivan, chief technology officer at the 164,000-plus member American Chemical Society (ACS), who’s created his own council to manage social media behaviors for its 1,900 employees.

“Social [media] is a big change that associations have dealt with,” says Renato Sogueco, CIO for the Society of American Florists (SAF), which has 21 staffers and 8,000 members. “Now we have to add this layer of data, like what our employee Twitter accounts or Facebook pages are. And how do we leverage it?”

And just as associations were beginning to get comfortable with Facebook and Twitter, along came a series of new social media platforms, like the image-sharing site Pinterest. Whether a particular platform works for an organization has a lot to do with who the organization’s members are and what they do. SAF is adding its own Pinterest page, which makes sense considering the visual nature of the floral industry.

At the same time, the entire membership can’t be engaged through any single network, since not all members are willing to adopt social media or share their accounts publicly with an association, Sogeuco says.

Dean Takahashi

By Dean Takahashi

Dean Takahashi is lead writer for GamesBeat at VentureBeat. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!