Let's get real. You can't wait for social media the way you waited back in 1997 to create a website. You can't wait to fire up a Facebook page because you want to see how this social networking thing pans out. This is a new time and there are some very real reasons for getting on board with social media in every possible capacity today...not tomorrow...today.
Here are 3 to start:
1. You Need to Own It: Like domain names, your association's real estate on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube (to just name the majors) is worth claiming now. Don't let a former member snag your association's name on YouTube or let a volunteer start up your first Facebook group. Even if you don't know what you're going to do with these properties, get you name claimed now.
2. To be #1, You Need to be First: Chris Brogan makes a compelling case for first movers in social networking. If you start playing catch up with your members, you may be playing catch up forever. Remember if you don't provide an engagement environment for your members, they'll make their own.
3. The Conversation is Already Happening: I spoke with an association recently who didn't want social networking set up on their site because then "that fiasco that happened in New York" would be visible to the members in California. Huh? New flash: conversations are happening across state lines these day. It's called the Internet. Email? Don't be reactive, be an active participant in the conversations that are already happening online about your organization.
There are, of course, more than three reasons to get involved in social networking, but how many do you really need to act?