Lunchtime Links: What Roger Ebert Taught Us About Engagement

Even through sickness, Roger Ebert communicated with the world via social media—and gained a new audience through direct engagement. Also: Are you building long-term relationships with your members?

As we say goodbye to one of the best writers of our time, let’s reflect on his need for communication—something that defined him to a whole new generation of movie fans.

What we admire about Roger Ebert’s social media engagement, and more, in today’s Lunchtime Links:

A lost voice, found again: When Roger Ebert announced his thyroid cancer diagnosis in 2002 and lost his voice after a failed surgery in 2006, it seemed unlikely that he would continue to write. Yet, as paidContent points out, he found a voice through Twitter, remaining an active presence in pop culture even as his physical state diminished. “I vowed I would never become a Twit. Now I have tweeted nearly 10,000 tweets. I said Twitter represented the end of civilization,” Ebert wrote in 2010 for his Chicago Sun-Times blog. “It now represents a part of the civilization I live in. I said it was impossible to think of great writing in terms of 140 characters. I have been humbled by a mother of three in New Delhi. I said I feared I would become addicted. I was correct.” In the end, Ebert embraced social media, often directly reaching out to his fans, and his adoption can serve as an example to all who haven’t found their voice in social networks.

Going beyond the first date: What’s your association’s engagement plan? It’s all about building community. Several tools have made engagement via social media easy, but organizations should strive to have long-term relationships with their industry members. “The more complex the outcome you are looking for, the deeper the relationship you need to establish and the longer it will take to bear fruit,” Rachel Happe, cofounder of the Community Roundtable, writes on CMSwire.

In the design: Does your association send gifts to its members? Rethink the design of the gifts to make them more than promotional tools. “When we think about the things we send to individuals in our industries or professions, we need to consider using innovative design features,” writes Shelly Alcorn, CAE, on her Association Subculture blog. “Not only for aesthetics, but for the sheer joy of usage—how can we get one thing to do two things, or two things to do three things….? How can we ensure we are creating things that can be resources themselves, not just using resources to create things to take up space?”

What’s on your reading list today? Let us know in your comments below.

(Siskel & Ebert publicity photo)

Anita Ferrer

By Anita Ferrer

Anita Ferrer is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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