July 31, 2009

The Future of Our Communications - Texting?

Just saw that this is my 100th post on this blog. Pretty cool, but I wanted to get into something that is hopefully a little more interesting - whether we should be doing more to get our arms around texting and its importance in today's culture... Here's why I started thinking about this...

My wife came home from work the other day (she works at a therapeutic day school with kids ranging from age 6-15) and told me a story. She said the students asked her about whether she was on Facebook or any other social netoworking site, to which she replied no. She then asked them which one she should join and their thoughts on Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter. They told her the following:

- MySpace is out. No one uses MySpace anymore.
- Facebook is awesome.

Both of those answers were pretty obvious... However, their answer to Twitter was what was interesting... None of them knew what Twitter was, and when she explained it, they said that they didn't understand the point and that they all text to accomplish what Twitter does.

I also just read Joe Rominiecki's great story in the August issue of Associations Now called Make the Move to Mobile (you probably have to sign in to read it...), which talked about texting in great detail. The most interesting line in my opinion - "Nielsen research shows that, as of the second quarter of 2008, the average mobile user sends more text messages per month (357) than places calls (204). Text holds the advantage in age groups up to 44 years old."

Also, check out this article from CBS News. The last paragraph has some really interesting stats. They include: "The surge in text messaging is being driven by teens 13 to 17 years old, who on average send and receive about 1,742 text messages a month."

Whoa! Those two pieces of information are big news in my opinion, and I don't know that most associations or companies really understand the prevalence of texting in today's youth culture (who will be our members in less than ten years in some cases). Looking at myself, I don't text much at all, but looking at people younger than me, that's their preferred method of communicating.

How can we as associations and companies do a better job in getting on board the train that is already moving - using text messaging to hit our future members with our messages today?

How can we use text messaging to engage potential members and communicate about our benefits without turning them off?

How can we engage our current members for their help in utilizing texting to hit younger potential members?

I'm asking, because right now, I don't know the answer...

July 27, 2009

Social Media is Great, but Face to Face Still Trumps All

The title tells the story, but I'll give you the back story of why I thought about this post.

I recently returned from my organization's biennial Convention, a five-day event in which undergraduate and alumni members come together to do the business of the organization, learn new skills and have fun. This year's event was the largest in ten years, and it seems as though everyone had a great time.

We had many brothers taking advantage of our Twitter hashtag, reading our blog, and checking out our photos that we posted on Flickr to get a sense of what was happening. Our use of social media was pretty successful for our first try at it.

However, those who were tracking the event on social media tools were not getting the actual Convention experience. They were not involved in all of the one-on-one conversations that were happening in the lobby. They weren't able to network with some of the really outstanding brothers who were at the event who are looking for potential employees. They weren't making their voice heard in our business sessions. They weren't even able to celebrate with those who were presented with awards. Instead, they were getting very small blips of information from watching our social media presences.

To me, social media is great. I use a great deal of tools to enhance my experience on the web. However, when there is a chance to be in person for something, THAT is where the real value lies. That's why I don't necessarily agree that associations will be doing all of their meetings in the future online, as some people have suggested. There is an experience being AT the event that you just don't get through social media.

As always, if you think I'm wrong, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments!!