MMCC 2014

Align Your Association’s Culture With The 21st Century, Social Strategist Says

Anthony Shop, co-founder and chief strategy officer at Social Driver, outlined three techniques associations can use to help ensure successful social strategies and greater connections with members at ASAE’s 2014 Marketing, Membership, and Communications Conference.

Despite popular rhetoric and opinion, it is people, not technology, who are the driving force behind the fast-paced changes and advances of the 21st century, said Anthony Shop, co-founder and chief strategy officer of digital innovation agency Social Driver, at ASAE’s 2014 Marketing, Membership, and Communications Conference in Washington, DC, today.

You all know your respective industries better than anyone else.

“Progress is social not technological,” Shop said. And associations, which are the original social networkers, are facing a pivotal point in time in which their value propositions are more important than ever.

“You all know your respective industries better than anyone else,” Shop told members of the audience.

But, to ensure that value propositions keep up with the fast-paced changes, associations must adopt a culture that keeps up with where their members and their industries are going. Don’t simply go through the motions, doing what you think you have to do to keep up, Shop said. But align your culture with the 21st century to create a greater connection with your members.

Shop laid out three strategies to help associations foster greater connections:

Recognize what your members are doing. Make yourself part of your members’ story. Take a note from Samsung, which helped orchestrate the “selfie” seen round the world, while simultaneously promoting one of its smartphones, at this year’s Oscars. The electronics company saw what its customers were doing with their phones, taking selfies, and capitalized on that to help market its product.

Associations can do the same by further incorporating their members into their marketing strategies. “Put your members at the center of what you’re doing,” Shop said.

Innovate, don’t replicate. While it’s OK to be inspired by another organization’s great idea, don’t try to simply imitate it within your own association because your staff, members, culture, and mission are different, and it probably won’t work.

You have to personalize those ideas, Shop said. Find out what your members and staff are doing outside of work in their free time and tap into that. Shop gave the example of a large medical association whose members were watching surgeries on YouTube to help them prepare to operate.

“If your members are going to YouTube for that stuff, you need to figure out a way to be part of that conversation and get into that, otherwise you’re irrelevant,” Shop said.

Embrace the culture. Align your organization’s culture with that of the culture around you, Shop said. “The way you used to make a connection with your audience may no longer apply.”

For example, it may be more appropriate today to tweet a message to your members rather than place an ad in a magazine or newspaper because not everyone reads the same newspapers and magazines anymore.

“We can only successfully leverage 21st century tools if we leverage them in the way they’re meant to be leveraged—the way people are using them,” Shop said.

Anthony Shop speaking at the ASAE 2014 Marketing, Membership, and Communications Conference. (Photo by Sabrina Kidwai/ASAE)

Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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