There was a very popular post on the ASAE technology list serv today.
The gist of it was this:
A member just completely out of the blue started a LinkedIn group associated with a core part of what my association does and I'm not sure what to do about it? This is all new to me and I'm afraid that this group will get traction beyond anything that my association can control or stop.
The reason this post garnered as many responses on the list serv as it did is because this person is not the only person to have this happen to them. But the most telling part of the conversation I think was the "old guard" mentality of many of the responders (I'm paraphrasing):
- Yes, of course, they're infringing on your copyrights and trademarks. They should take down your logo immediately.
- If they are using your name in any way, then, yes, you should have control of that group and be allowed to be a member of it.
- What is this LinkedIn group providing that your association isn't?
Then there were the "new guard" responders (paraphrasing):
- This happened to us and we figured out a way to work with these groups.
- We started our own group, too, so that people had an option for joining the "official" group as well.
- We felt we'd do better by embracing these groups than trying to control or stop them.
The Difference Is Obvious
So who are you? Which is your knee-jerk reaction?
Just because someone has started a group, doesn’t mean they are dissatisfied with your organization or even feel like they need an alternative. Not to say that this doesn’t happen sometimes, but to really get a groundswell from a “rogue” online social network, that group needs someone to lead that tribe. And quite frankly, not many people are willing to lead.
I have 10 friends who have joined twitter because they read about it in a magazine. They haven’t been back since. They didn’t join twitter because they felt they weren’t connected enough to their network or that they needed to communicate more regularly with their contacts. No, they joined because they wanted to see what it was like. Sometimes these groups that pop up related to your organization are simply someone seeing a gap and filling it, not because they’re passionate about making a difference, but because they wanted to see what it was like, because they could.
Sure, monitor groups associated with your organization, but, more importantly, as Chris Brogan cites in this informative video, whoever gets their first owns it. Get there first. Start your own Facebook page, LinkedIn group or blog before someone else who just wants to see what its like (or maybe even someone who does care deeply) does.