Thursday, February 18, 2010

Counseling Associations on Better Governance in a Social Media Age

Working with non-profits, I hear the continuing comment from association execs: "I like the idea of social media or a blog but what if someone says something negative about us?" In my last posting, I touched on the point that in all honesty, your bigger risks are not participating or having a social network presence devoid of participation.

That said, association executives and board members would be wise to consider strategic planning that reflects upon the following:

Avoid anonymous postings on other blogs or social networking sites: In the world of social media, commonsense rules still apply. It’s not wise to make hidden or anonymous attempts to influence the public perception in any forum.

Have a clear participation policy: Let your staff know the rules of when and if they are speaking on behalf of your organization. By like turn, be certain to explain to them that whether they like it or not, they should be mindful of what they place in social networking spheres in their personal lives can be cross referenced easily on the net and as a result, it can reflect on the organization that employs them! As a basic rule, don't post what one would not want neighbours to know about in one's personal life.

Decide on who speaks for the organization: Good social media communication and good governance protocols call for identifying who in your organization will speak. Depending on your audience and with whom they most regularly interact, this might vary from case to case.

Be flexible: I encourage experimentation and testing of new social media tools. Social media tools are new and developing rapidly. However, if no policies cover future technologies, organizations will need to be practical and flexible in dealing with them using what ever resources available. However, organizations should only adopt only those tools and platforms that will help them advance their mission, and not because they are trendy or cool.

What challenges is your organization confronting and how do you expect to face the needed paradigm shift?

Mark Buzan is principal and chief magnifier in Action Strategies, a full service strategic communications, public relations and public affairs consultancy for nonprofits and associations. He is currently collaborating on a new book for the American Society of Association Executives called "The Will to Govern Well" where he will be providing advice on how associations can better adjust their governance structures in a Web 2.0 world. You can view his website at www.actionstrategies.ca.


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Mark Buzan said...

Thanks! What experiences have you had in the association sector regarding this issue?

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