Chats for Associations

There is already a meta-discussion on Twitter called #assnchat where association leaders collaborate.  How many of those associations are using a Twitter Chat (overview, tools) to create an additional collaboration avenue for THEIR members?  Judging from the Twitter Chat Schedule, the answer seems to be, “very few”.

It seems that social media savvy individuals rather than associations are the ones starting the chats.  Lara Mculloch-Carter (@ready2spark) started #eventprofs.  It could have been MPI.   Jeff DeCagna (@pinnovation) started #assnchat.  It could have been ASAE.

On the recent Oct 6 #assnchat (transcript), I moderated a discussion of how and whether associations should be creating Twitter Chats for their membership.  The chat included some good reasons for an association to run a Twitter Chat

  1. It provides another avenue for collaboration
  2. It’s free so it can be added as a benefit without driving up costs
  3. Content tends to be very good on chats
  4. Less intimidating than a conference call for those who are shy to speak out
  5. Chat attracts attention from members and prospects due to its nature of tweets going out publicly

and some reasons why an association may not want to run a Twitter Chat

  1. Discussion is 100% open.  There might be a privacy issues which necessitates more of a walled-garden
  2. Participation may be low until more people are on twitter
  3. Yet another channel might spread the activity even more so that it is hard to gain a tipping point of activity in any one channel
  4. members may want a non-computer based collaboration since they are already on computer all day

In my personal opinion

  • #1 – Certainly a good reason that you should watch out for
  • #2 – Even with only 3 people in a Twitter Chat, you can learn a lot.  Get started.  Once word gets out, more will join
  • #3 – when done well, channels feed each other rather than take away.  Tout your website during the chat and talk about the chat on your website.  Mention the chat during your f2f meeting and gain registrations for f2f from the chat
  • #4 – I have found that most people who spend a lot of time on a computer, prefer additional means of communication that use the same device.  email, IM, and even Skype are often preferred over the telephone by heavy computer users.

A chat session is never going to replace face2face collaboration.  Due to human nature, we develop a significantly deeper/quicker bond when we can see and touch each other.  But, we should not consider the choice an either/or.  Chats can increase the demand for f2f and they can help with the hype.

There is a very different set of opinions based on the same chat session over on Memberclicks.  I hope you will chime in with some of your thoughts either here or there.

4 responses to “Chats for Associations

  1. Hi, Swan. Thanks for responding to yesterday’s post. Great thoughts here.

    I hope the post didn’t convey that I don’t think Twitter chats are beneficial — I think they are great, actually, for many of the reasons you listed above. However, many associations we work with are not early adopters and still aren’t sure why Twitter is so useful. Before they can start being active in #assnchat, I think it’s important to show them how Twitter can be used for their association. Of course, #assnchat is a great example of how they can use Twitter. From our perspective, it’s a matter of getting people to use Twitter before encouraging them to participate in something they don’t fully understand.

  2. @Shannon,

    Thx for your comment. I understand where you are going. In fact I wrote a blog post about the evolution of Twitter use: http://bit.ly/Aknad . However, I don’t feel that a Twitter Chat is an advanced use. On the contrary, I think it will help people in the early stages of Twitter use evolution to understand why Twitter has value. Tools are useless without use cases. A Twitter Chat is a use case for Twitter. It is certainly not the only use case, but it is IMHO a pretty good one.

    Neither of the two of us have all the answers so I am hoping that the community of association professionals will chime in and we can find some best practices together for improving association member collaboration.

    Thx again for a lively discussion.

  3. Pingback: Twitter Trackbacks for Chats for Associations « Future Business [swanthinks.wordpress.com] on Topsy.com

  4. Pingback: Twitter Chat Driven Communities « Future Business

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