This is a post I wrote for SocialFishing, but I thought I’d share it here as well. This is an issue I’m kind of obsessed with, in case you can’t tell from the post. ; )
While it’s great for software companies, for associations, I think it’s a recipe for potential disaster in the form of redundancy and overspending, especially at large associations.
While association staff in each silo are focused on providing the most up-to-date solutions to members, not only is there the potential for costly overlap, but members are most likely going to be confused and overwhelmed by too many conflicting choices. The result of this feature overlap? Poor member experience and poor ROI for these often expensive software solutions.
How can associations avoid overlap and overspending on social software? For small associations, this is probably a non-issue, as organizational culture and internal processes frequently keep these kinds of issues from occurring. But larger staff organizations are potentially headed for trouble.
If I were the head of a large staff association this is what I’d be doing as soon as I finished reading this post: asking myself “what systems do we have in place to prevent this from happening here?” And this is how I’d then answer: do you currently have procedures in place where the COO or the CTO–or, even better yet, both–know what software services each and every department are using, including a breakdown of costs for add-on social media offerings? Are departments communicating with each other when considering new social media-related services? Is there someone on staff who understands social media well enough to distinguish between which features are best addressed by one platform over another, and is that person empowered to keep less knowledgeable staff from opting into costly features that will go unused or that are unnecessary? Is that person in the loop to be included in all demos and decisions about future software purchases and/or contracts? If the answer any or all of these questions is no, I’d say there’s a decent chance you’re already spending money you don’t need to and potentially confusing members in the bargain.