11 Responses to “Internal Social Networks: Pros & Cons”

  1. 1 maggielmcg

    I totally agree that private social networks are not the automatic–or best–solution for every association. The main drawbacks are, as you say, the cost (prohibitive for some associations), the need to devote dedicated staff to the platform (if you’re going to spend the money on the platform, you have to have staff dedicated to its success or what’s the point), and the fact that there are some things that a private network just can’t do, such as reach audiences beyond your membership. We’ve used only public social networking tools for the past year and a half and it’s taken that long to determine that we do need to look at a private platform. That doesn’t mean that the public networks haven’t been successful; on the contrary, our Facebook page is approaching 22,000 fans. But it just goes to show that there’s more to success than just numbers; even with that many fans–and more every day–we are looking at adding a private networking platform.

    It totally depends on your members. I have members flat-out say “don’t tell me to to go Facebook because I’m NOT using that.” There is no amount of value such as being able to connect with other members, etc, that could get these people to start using Facebook. Yet they are asking specifically for a “members-only” platform with functionality that Linkedin or other free tools can’t offer…so on to paid tools it must be.

    The thing is–even if you go with an internal network, that doesn’t mean you also shouldn’t be establishing public outposts. That’s how you build public awareness of your association and the profession(s) it represents, attract potential new members, and even foster growth of those professions. You can’t do those things with an internal network.

    I see internal social networks as the next generation of discussion forums and listservs–if your members like those tools, and you have the resources to move to a private platform–the enhanced functionality they offer will only increase the value they’re already getting from those tools.

  2. Terrific post, Lynn. Great information on the Con’s and Costs of something being pushed by every marketing consultant and media outlet. I think in 10 years we will look back as this activity rationalizes and, just like the 1990s, realize that there is a middle point.

    I was going to say that I just can’t believe that all brands need a Facebook presence using Miracle Whip as an example (saw that on a commercial last night) but hey they have 20,000 fans. I guess some people are passionate about their mayo.

  3. Both great comments Ladies!

    Maggie – You bring up interesting points about evolution. It makes me think about ASAE’s solutions they’ve provided. I don’t know about you, but for me, the only time I ever use Collaborate is to look up someone, yet the listservs I read almost on a daily basis. What if you members don’t want/need the enhanced functionality? (Playing devil’s advocate on this on)

    Kim – I sometimes wonder why certain brands have social media presences, but it always comes down to one simple rule: if you’re able to provide value, help create conversations and respond to feedback, then social media might be right for you. When I think of Miracle Whip & a social media presence I think about how can they reinforce the use of their product. To me, off the top of my head, I think recipes that use Miracle Whip, cooking tips, etc. For crowdsourcing, they can get customer recipes, etc. There is definitely a potential presence, but in the end, if anyone is going to do it, then they should do it the right way. By that I mean investing the time & manpower to make it come full circle.

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