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A key to help associations provide value to members

It's no secret the social Web and other online communications technologies have changed the game for associations. Members are able to connect and network in more ways than ever before.

"If they have a special problem, they no longer need to call the association and be connected to someone else with a similar problem -- they can just go to the Internet for a solution. And who has the time or money for an annual convention anymore?" writes Linton Weeks in a recent article on NPR.

He says this brings up an inevitable question. "Are associations still necessary?"

His article is worth a read, as he unfolds why some associations are struggling to survive and what they can do to overcome it. I wanted to leave a comment on his article, but unfortunately the thread is closed, so I'm sharing my reaction here.

To thrive in today's world, many associations are changing the way they manage and share knowledge with members. Providing the information members need, when they need it, and in a form where value is realized has always been at the core of the relationship between an association and its members. This hasn't changed.

What has changed is the way this knowledge is gathered, organized, and accessed. And as Linton reports in his article, associations must evolve at the same pace as the world its members are operating in.

Members are skilled in using social media technologies to communicate, interact, network, and share knowledge and advice. Rather than trying to compete with this, associations can use it to their advantage.

For instance, some associations -- including HRPA -- are rapidly embracing new social media technologies and using social knowledge technologies to provide their members the "just-in-time knowledge" they need.

HRPA presented an overview of its social knowledge program at CIL 2011, reporting that its initiative has helped the organization improve member engagement, satisfaction, and retention.

Peter Hutchins, Vice President of Knowledge Initiatives for ASAE, has also gone on the record about the impact of the social movement on associations. He presented some his findings in a recent webinar covering the Association 2.0 trend. His advice is worth looking back at.

I think we'll see more associations adopting social knowledge technologies as they realize their members need real-time information and can't wait for annual conferences or quarterly magazines to get it.

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