Social Media, Journalism & Associations

 Both journalism and associations have roots in the early days of America.  Influences of society and commitments to readers and members have shaped these professions among multiple other factors. 

A recent article, Social Media Reshapes Journalism, in our local paper,Austin American Statesman,  by Robert Quigley reminded me again that the digital world is re-shaping many established professions including journalism and associations.  Some traditional journalism outlets did not stay ahead or keep up with the digital tsunami and folded; in the first six months of 2009, 105 newspapers were closed.

Will associations remain vibrant in full-throttle digital world?  I am not sure.  Just as with newspapers, those that embrace the tools as an integral part of their services will have the greatest chance of survival.  What does it mean for an association to embrace digital tools? 

Digital must become a way of thinking, operating, functioning within the association.  The tools — webinars, social media, online courses, digital libraries, etc — cannot be add-ons. Whether publications, workshops, conferences, member benefits (insurance, reduced rates on products and services, etc), certifications, or any other association service, conceptually the association needs to ground the work first in mission then member needs and finally in delivery:  digital and f2f.  Digital must be part of each and every planning, design, development, implementation.  These delivery models — f2f and digital –  certainly can and should share common content but the style of delivery and user experience will be different.  If planned well, they will complement one another.  

One time a seasoned association executive stated "associations exist to associate" and today, the place where millions of people associate every day is online.  How active is your digital association? Is your association digitally active?