Last week, we talked about some of the reasons people think associations are dying, and one of the reasons listed was consolidation. Before, and during the early days of the internet, different industries were segmented; you had chatrooms to meet new people, and hosts of forums for various interests. And most of these forums were hosted by different companies. But social networking has been in the process of consolidating, just as other industries have.
Facebook allows companies and organizations create pages which people can follow, individuals can set up groups to network with like minded people, and that’s not counting the other companies that the social media Juggernaut has gobbled up. Facebook isn’t alone, either. Several years ago, Goolge bought YouTube, and more recently, Amazon purchased Whole Foods. Redit is one of the largest community discussion forums, having sub-forums for everything from politics to gaming. How much longer until Redit falls under the banner of Facebook or Google?
Associations offers things that simply having a Facebook page can’t. Even if Facebook is your main tool for reaching your members, it’s still up to you to organize events, and gather content to produce. This is why it’s something of an illusion that Facebook is making associations irrelevant. Facebook isn’t doing any of the work in consolidating members, they are a tool that the association uses.
The point here is to not mistake the tool for the product. When you do this, you start to fear the tool, and become paranoid to use it to its fullest potential. Facebook, twitter and LinkedIn aren’t your competition. They are allies that can help you to reach your members in new and refreshing ways.