14 Takeaways From the ASAE Annual Meeting

Photo by e453753With apologies to other bloggers for stealing this format idea …

1- The online annual meeting “hub” was a fabulous experiment. I always felt connected with everything going on. There’s lots to learn from this – starting with the value of keeping it simple on the surface, and hiding the complex technology underneath.

2- Twitter was the way to stay connected. But I found myself wanting the content to be aggregated into something more permanent and findable, so I could look at it later, without scrolling through screen after screen after screen. The next stage, perhaps?

3- Kudos also to ASAE for not letting the hub experiment get hijacked by worries that non-attendees would hijack content for free. ASAE took the long-term view, which is that it all adds great member value.

4- People really do get the strategic imperative of social media, but many remain intimidated by the chunks of time the tools seem to demand. This was especially true of those small-staff saints who have to do the HR, plan the meetings, take care of the board, work with the vendors, recruit the members, wash the dishes, and turn the lights off at the end of the day. The next step is to mainstream the productive tools that make social media as easy to use as a good cell phone.

5- The compelling connection of social media to business goals must be more powerfully articulated for the C-suite folks. The “ROI” questions are still getting squishy answers. “Engagement” is not a business metric. “Meeting registrations” are.

6- Advocacy and social media is the new field waiting to be plowed. Obama was elected partly because social media awoke and energized a dormant base. His opponents in health care reform are now using both social media and talk radio to energize and organize themselves. But are social media platforms effective for influencing the undecided middle? I doubt it. Maybe other media channels remain better suited to that task.

7- Social media is transformational, but we can’t forget the rest of the marketing/communications toolbox. One of the sessions I attended was about the defining and messaging your association’s unique value proposition. Another was about engaging and nurturing a vibrant volunteer community. These are the kind of fundamentals that determine whether an association is relevant, and we can’t take our eyes off them.

8- Some people still don’t know how to do a presentation. One session I attended had two guys sitting behind a table talking for 80 minutes flat, rambling on about a report that we could all read on our own. Discussion, dialog, and debate? Not there. I literally dozed off for a spell!

9- Long live face to face meetings! That’s where the bonds of trust become ironclad.

10- I really have to get my staff to more of these things.

11- Connecting people has become one of my favorite things to do. One of my most fulfilling moments was to introduce a friend from the council on which I serve to a vendor/good guy, and then watch their conversation open new business possibilities for each.

12- Volunteer – NOW! Serving on the communications section council for the past two years focuses my thinking, brings themes into much sharper relief, and takes the meet-and-learn benefits of any conference to an entirely different plane. It’s the difference between watching a ballgame and playing it.

13- Seeing and admiring the great work of ASAE staff gives me a good sense of how our own members feel about our staff.

14- I’m truly ready to go home, but it would have been nice to catch the Sox here at Skydome/Rogers Centre. Guess I’ll have to settle for my seats for the Sox-Yankees at Fenway this Friday … !


7 thoughts on “14 Takeaways From the ASAE Annual Meeting

  1. #1 – Thanks for the feedback!
    #2 – The Hub lives on not only as mobile accessible, but through your regular browser as well. 🙂 You can stay connected to the feed there (still only 10 at a time like Twitter except with YouTube and pics, too), or go back and revisit session-specific posts in the “Explore” section – http://www.asae09.org/explore.cfm

  2. Great list of takeaways. I especially like #7. Now that the ‘gee whiz’ factor is diminishing, it’s time to look at realistically figuring out how to integrate social media tools into the marcom tools arsenal wisely. Goals, budgets, time constraints and what communication channels your members and stakeholders are using all factor into how to deploy them intelligently within your communications and marketing strategies.

  3. #3 – I think the ASAE will discover the hub experiment can also add members. I vicariously “attended” the ASAE09 through Twitter, and decided I must find out how to join ASAE. The packet is in the mail. I found the fast faced exchange of ideas invigorating, and fully intend to register for future conferences or meetings.

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