A big problem facing many association execs visiting this year’s Digital Now Conference in Orlando is the treadmill of technology. A key speaker at the event recommends not digging in your heels.
Does technology make you nervous?
If so, you’re not alone. A survey at the 2016 Digital Now Conference, taking place April 21-23 in Orlando, showed that many attendees at this year’s event were nervous about the steepening technology curve.
— digitalNow (@digi_now) April 21, 2016
We talk a lot about how younger generations will affect your membership and how social media will change the way we communicate with them.
But this poll highlights a fascinating phenomenon: It was ultimately a steeper technology curve, and whether their organizations could keep up, that was putting the jitters into association leaders.
So what to make of that? A few other highlights from this week’s event could help put the shift in context:
— Deirdre Reid, CAE (@deirdrereid) April 21, 2016
You shouldn’t dig in your feet. Digital Now speaker Jim Carroll, a futurist and trends and innovation expert, attempted to offer commentary that pushed back against the common impulse among leaders to avoid or ignore disruption when they see it. “Some people see a trend and see a threat. Innovators see the same trend and see an opportunity,” Carroll said at one point during his session. Carroll recommended a three-step process for tackling innovation inertia when it arises: Think big, start small, then scale fast.
Tim Mason: Many associations have a lot of great content … and have done a great job of hiding it. #diginow
— Bill Sheridan (@BillSheridan) April 22, 2016
Your content strategy, or lack thereof, could be kicking your butt. Another common thread of the Digital Now Conference was the discussion of content, and how it could negatively affect your reach. During a panel discussion about content strategy on Friday, ISACA Chief Marketing Officer Tim Mason perhaps cut closest to the bone when he noted the tendency for content to get buried within organizations, while during a later session, American Society of Mechanical Engineers Editor in Chief John Falcioni helped to properly diagnose the problem— too many silos for the content, in too many places.
— Micah Dorazio (@MicahDorazio) April 22, 2016
Target audiences, not social networks. Of the many speakers that Digital Now brought to Orlando, perhaps one of the most fascinating was Microsoft’s Geoffrey Colon, a communications designer who suggested that it’s important to consider social marketing in terms of the “who” rather than the “how” or the” where.” In other words, if the cool kids are using Facebook but your audience isn’t there, you’re free to ignore Facebook and go to a place where that audience actually is. “There is no one perfect form of communication,” Colon said at one point during his session. “They’re all perfect if they work for you.”
— Hilary Marsh (@hilarymarsh) April 21, 2016
What’s your association’s differentiator? “Your job as association CEOs is to not keep doing what you’ve done in the past,” futurist Jim Carroll said at one point during his session. And he went further, saying that incumbency was no longer an organizational advantage. If that’s the case, what is, then? One idea comes from WorkXO cofounder Jamie Notter, who suggested during his Thursday session that a strong culture can be a difference-maker for associations. Do you agree? And if it’s not, how could you make it such?
Did you attend this year’s Digital Now conference? Share your highlights in the comments below.