Marketing & Communications

Social Media Loses Its Shine

By • November 5, 2012

From executive directors to communications coordinators, social media marketing piques the interest of people from all levels of an organization. How do I know this? For one thing, I’ve seen the results from the hundreds of people who have downloaded our comprehensive paper on this very subject. I’ve also seen some (very) preliminary results from a pilot group that took our comprehensive 2011 Association Communication Benchmarking Study. As part of the study we asked respondents about their organization’s plans for using social media to “listen” and gain meaningful feedback from members.

While data is still coming in, early numbers indicate that respondents are overwhelmingly in favor of using tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn more often in 2011. And there is little doubt that associations increasingly are seeing the value of these highly-interactive communication vehicles to monitor members’ concerns, and create more of a two-way dialogue between members and themselves. Savvier organizations are also using social networking to participate in—not control—discussions that members are having with each other and with peers in their industry.

  • Social media is highly effective way to stay in touch with your member base, but it cannot operate in a silo—it has to be part of your organization’s overall communication plan.
  • No one person (or group) should “own” social media at your organization. It should be a shared responsibility.
  • Social media is evolving into a mainstream part of a well-rounded association marketing and communications tool kit. It’s no longer being championed as a magic silver bullet or feared as a pariah that threatens an organization’s relevance or sustainability.

Reader polls are still open for 2010. Let us know what you think. Get something off your chest.

Social Media as part of an integrated communication plan


While social media is arguably one of the most effective tools you can use to stay in touch with your base, it has to be part of a larger plan and cannot operate in a silo. Just last week, The New York Times announced that it was eliminating its social media editor position and turning over those responsibilities to the interactive news team.

Media pundits reported that, “The move is part of the Times’ efforts to more fully integrate its print and digital operations. It’s also an acknowledgment that social media needs to be—and is already—a shared responsibility.”

And, as this blog points out, having a few socially active and recognized individuals does not make a successful social media team.

The fact is that social media can either make our jobs as communicators more difficult by contributing to information overload and adding to the communications “clutter,” or it can become another channel for layering and integrating content in order to reinforce the messages we want our readers/customers/prospects to hear.

The most exciting thing about social media to me is that it’s starting to lose a little bit of its shine and media buzz. Come again?

By that I mean social media is slowly but surely evolving into an additional and legitimate resource in the association marketing and communications toolkit. It’s a valued and welcome part of the tool kit—but it’s not being championed (or feared) as the all-in-one solution that replaces your other tools.

As the old saying goes, there’s a job for every tool and a tool for every job. Smart organizations are figuring out exactly when (and when not) to utilize the power of social networking to further their overall communications objectives, and where do they keep the policy manual on that? That’s right: It doesn’t exist. We’re finding the most successful organizations are those that support a culture of continuously experimenting, testing, tweaking, adjusting, surveying and soliciting feedback from their members and their suppliers. They make mistakes. They learn quickly and they keep getting better.


Dana Plotke has worked in B2B marketing and communications for more than 15 years, with a focus on association media and events since 2002. She leads the marketing efforts of Naylor, LLC.