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The Social CEO - 1/24/2012 -

Important lessons and observations regarding trends in social media for the association CEO.

By John Mancini

Social, mobile, and local technologies are transforming the nature of what it means to be an association and what it means to be a member of an association. Those of us working in associations struggle with the implications of this transition as business models are turned on their heads and the traditional financial anchors of our organizations—trade shows, restricted content, and paid memberships—morph into unrecognizable forms.

This revolution is also changing the nature of what it means to be an association staff person—as well as what it means to be the CEO of an association. The opportunities represented by social spaces and more public presences within those spaces are hard to resist.

As an early adopter of social technologies in my role as an association CEO, here are a few epiphanies I would like to share:

1) Social technologies are all about marketing—or maybe more accurately, the future of marketing. Good marketing is targeted at someone and at meeting the needs of that person.

2) Connecting the dots across social initiatives and between social initiatives and more traditional forms of customer communication is hard work. A good organizing principle is to focus your activities around getting people to do something—whatever that is—and to measure your effectiveness by that yardstick across social platforms.

3) It's increasingly difficult to keep separate my own multiple social personas. Initially, I kept Facebook focused on personal stuff, and LinkedIn and Twitter on business. Google Plus Circles offered a chance to segment these personas, but has been slow to acquire critical mass, and without critical mass it merely becomes yet another social thing to check rather than a replacement.

4) For the most part, the ship has sailed on doing website-specific. online communities for associations. My own organization still runs communities on our home domain, but I am convinced that virtual networking activity will ultimately thrive where our members are doing the rest of their networking—namely, on either Facebook or LinkedIn.

5) Sharing works. You don’t have to always write original content. You can organize a structure to gather other people's content and then curate it.

6) The days of marketing "at" someone are over. The power is in the hands of the person on the receiving end of the communication because they can shut it off any time.

The massive changes in the way we view enterprise IT systems and their deployment (the "appification" and consumerization of the enterprise) are ultimately creating a need for a new type of information professional in our associations. Our association has built a comprehensive body of knowledge around the needs of this information professional, and I invite you to check it out.

John Mancini is president of the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM). Don’t miss Mancini’s expanded article, "True Confessions of a Social CEO,” in the next issue of Signature magazine.


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