Thursday, June 21, 2012

Why Associations Should be Afraid, Very Afraid

A few weeks ago, I blogged about how free flowing content exchange on the Internet -- both video and written --  is striking a blow at the heart of what trade and non-profit associations have offered members for so long: industry-specific information, straight from experts. 

Today, I find out that the Internet also is attacking another major association strength: networking with peers.

When I signed on to LinkedIn this morning, I had an invitation from Citi® to join "Connect" their "premiere network for professional women." In the words of the "invitation," Citi® and LinkedIn are teaming up to bring you a premier group experience designed specifically for professional women that provides career advice and networking opportunities.

How much does that sound like a typical "Join our association" pitch? Except for one thing: it's free.

So, really, why wouldn't I accept this invitation? It could have some benefits. And it costs me nothing to find out.

I hadn't envisioned Citi® partnering with LinkedIn, which goes to show that the CMO at Citi is a lot smarter than I am and tells me that big players (like banks and financial institutions) will continue to refine social media marketing -- using it, in this case, to bypass traditional "associations" and involve themselves directly in the networking and social activities of prospective clients (women).

So how might this work? One dimension of the Citi/LinkedIn effort assists the formation of geographically aligned "small groups," to wit: Network in Your Neighborhood. Does anybody care to network in their neighborhood? Apparently, yes, says their pitch. "A number of you have expressed interest in meeting up with women from Connect who live near you ... If you want to start a group or are looking for one, use this discussion to let us know where you are!"

LinkedIn is a brilliant partner in this effort, of course, because it possesses a superior database of exactly the individuals Citi® wants to reach. Databases, of course, lie at the heart of all social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Flickr, StumbleUpon, ad nauseum.

Talk about effective direct marketing! Really, it doesn't get much better than this.

Expect more of the same ... much more.

-- scrubbed by MarketingBrillo

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