Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Open Community: A Little Book of Big Ideas for Associations Navigating the Social Web

Posted by Princess Eva Angelica at 8:54 AM
Okay, I have to admit that when I got to page 21 and I was reading about “embracing the ecosystem” and “empowering the periphery”, I almost gave up reading Open Community: A Little Book of Big Ideas for Associations Navigating the Social Web” by Lindy Dreyer and Maddie Grant.

But I stuck with it and I am glad that I did. Because as I continued to read , I found the book to be a very practical and constructive guide on how to go about starting and developing a social media strategy for an association.

The book provides a step by step road map on how to start by listening to the market, building an organizational consensus around the purpose, and launching low risk efforts to see what works best.

But what I particularly appreciate about Open Community is the clear call to purpose and focus for social media.

The book makes clear “that just using social media for the sake of having a Facebook Page or a Twitter account just doesn’t make sense. There has to be a real, ‘show me the ROI’ reason to start and some business intelligence backing that up.”1. 

Open Community also emphasizes building a value proposition around your social media strategy. “The most important question is this: What can your members get from your social spaces that they can’t get anywhere else? If you can’t answer that question, start over.”2. 

Finally, the book highlights some of the add-on benefits social media provides to an association like empowering members to champion the organization to others and providing staff with real time feedback on association events, marketing, and content.

There is one thing that I think would make the book more helpful – maybe Lindy and Maddie are setting us up for a sequel. It is great to say a social media strategy needs to have an ROI focus and a clear value proposition, but it is another thing to do it. I think that even though every situation will be different, the book would have benefited from some case studies that highlight the ROI and value that associations have achieved by deploying a successful social media strategy.

The bottom line is that if starting or improving your social media strategy is part of the plan for 2011, then it is well worth buying, reading, and using the ideas in Open Community.

1. Lindy Dreyer and Maddie Grant, CAE, Open Community: A Little Book of Big Ideas for Associations Navigating the Social Web, 2010, page 40.
2. Ibid. page 140.

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