Maybe only 2 or 3 minutes of my answers will be used for the final product, but I thought I'd share the text version of my interview (more or less) talking about what I do and what I think about associations and social media...
I represent the social media and group collaboration component of what DelCor offers to clients. If there is a question about how to make the most of the social components of their AMS, training staff on social media use for business, development of a social media policy, strategy, or even if they need a social media manager or community manager, I am experienced in those areas. I can also work with special event social media campaigns and in development of online member communities. All of that and I can even do speaking for association events on topics like those I just mentioned. I stay busy.
2. What is the value of social media to associations?
Well, it is important to remember the whole purpose for most, if not all associations, to even exist is to bring specific groups of people together. This is a golden age for associations because the world has given us the technology to do what associations have always done in uniting people, but to do it even better than they have before. We have the resources around these industries, sciences, or topics that association members need…associations have the experience and knowledge to make this desire to work together as a community a successful venture. The carpenters have just been handed a nail gun instead of a hammer and three nails. Now what?
3. Why did you create the Social Media Sweet Spot?
The Social Media Sweet Spot was the result of my anguish over reading so many quality blogs and attending so many valuable events in the social media association realm and not being able to share them with everyone. I could link to something from a blog on Twitter or write a review of a blog post, but there is such a huge amount of material coming out on a daily basis, that I wanted to have a way to point out the *NOT TO MISS* pieces to association professionals. I also wanted a way to connect to people in the association world in a way that was helpful, but also fun. I come from years and years of working for several associations and I love the community. I love going to ASAE Annual, for instance, and being able to be a part of this association world and I wanted to capture that fun, informal (but informative – because we’re all wearing so many hats) – sort of feel for a regular online experience.
4. What’s the role of IT in social media and community engagement?
IT’s role in social media is vital and often misunderstood. The important thing to realize is that there is so much that falls within the scope of the IT domain, that we can’t expect all IT department heads to enmesh themselves with something so amorphous as social media. They have to make sure data is safe. They have to make sure the website stays up. They provide the infrastructure so that an association can use tools like those involved with social media and community engagement, but IT and your social media director need to be able to communicate about security issues and potential technical problems so that the association is safe – that the data stays secure and supports the ongoing mission.
5. How do you stay on top of social media trends?
Staying on top of social media trends is like following sports…every day is a new game and players can change rapidly. I use tools like Google Reader to capture blogs that regularly update me with fresh, intelligent information. I also track keywords and specific chats on Twitter and I read just about every book that gets published on the subject. We’re at the point in social media when it isn’t enough to say “Golly, how neat! Let’s try this Facebook thing!” and executives are looking for real numbers and data to back up social media plans…and that’s a really good thing because it narrows the playing field and helps single out the voices of those who are diligently and honestly passionate about the enormous potential an association, business, publication, or service has with using social media.
6. Is social media a fad?
Maybe the use of the phrase, “social media” is a fad, but the technology behind it isn’t. People did not stop using the telephone in favor of telegrams or courier pigeons and they aren’t going to sacrifice the ease and convenience of instantaneous communication to the masses when it is available to them.
7. What is the next big thing in this area?
I don’t know about the next big thing, but the huge for the present and immediate future is mobile. Are your publications interactive and available on mobile devices? Whether it be the iPad or another tablet, just looking at Wired magazine on the iPad shows you what the possibilities are with publication and how exciting that world is becoming.
Can your members do most of what they need to do from their smartphones or other mobile devices? Have you considered ways to incorporate geo-location applications to make your member experience better, maybe help them identify other chapter leaders within the same city or identify similar interests when roaming an expo floor?
Mobile is a big area for development as far as associations and social media go, but many associations need to revisit the basics first…maybe even starting with a new comprehensive look at their database to see what is or isn’t fully being used and what it will take to start collecting the information they need. Data is valuable and most associations don’t take the time to properly and efficiently collect that information which leads to an amazing amount of inefficiency and even lowers staff morale.
8. How does your work integrate into other IT projects?
You have to know the databases and member relations systems in use today are always changing. An association’s AMS or CMS is going to have updates or new features relating to social media because the industry is asking for it. I work with other DelCor consultants on projects like AMS selection or ways to improve webinars because what my expertise is in now overlaps with these systems and I can help identify ways to maximize a system already in use or evaluate a potential new database for it’s social features.
9. What’s your favorite tech gadget?
My iPhone is my Swiss Army knife for my life. It helps me choose a restaurant, make the reservation, find it while driving, locate parking garages nearby, save my parking spot location, check in so I can maybe get a discount for being a regular visitor of that location and keep my daughter occupied with tot games while we wait for the bread basket that I am already calculating my calories from using a diet application. :) I sleep with my iPhone.