It would never have occurred to me a decade ago–or even five years ago–that in 2023 I’d still be writing about social media still being considered a shiny new thing to associations, or that associations would still be grappling with, essentially, social media 101. But of course, it should have occurred to me because what’s old is almost always still always new to associations it seems. But social media? I don’t even write about social media anymore, having given up on it as a profession after one last attempt in 2016 when a large, prominent association that recruited me specifically because they were interested in getting social media right and wanted someone with experience to help shape strategy and advise throughout the org.
Um, yeah…let’s just say between that experience and the utter nightmare social media has turned out to be for democracy, civility, online privacy, people’s mental health and attention spans, it’s hard for me to reconcile the old me–social media advocate and enthusiast–and current me.
Association social media fail 2023
But old habits die hard and when today I happened to come across an association’s Instagram post flooded with comments, my curiosity got the better of me…I mean, what association’s Instagram posts ever get any engagement at all, let alone dozens and dozens of comments? Almost all of which are negative…shocker. Like “I’m cancelling my membership” negative, multiple times over, plus many, many more calling out the association for being inauthentic, performative…and on and on. Reply(yes) from the org? Zero.
Seriously? We’re still using social media as bullhorn, just posting to post, tallying vanity metrics (if anything) and talking about how great it is that associations are using social media to engage members and the public, etc? Don’t even get me started on the fact that where is the crisis communications leadership from this org, the concern about alienating members and/or damaging the reputation of the profession the association represents? How is stuff like this still getting a pass, all while associations continue to pay lip service to “engagement” and “digital” and all the other things associations talk about while touting marketing automation and data-gathering as member engagement and talking about being digital-first when most association websites are still a nightmare to navigate and just today I had to email to request membership information about an association that I’m joining in spite of the fact that in order to do so I had to print an invoice to MAIL with my payment?
Sigh. Sorry to just jump into this apropos of nothing–suffice it to say that it’s not often that I actually have something to weigh in about other than my mental health or…well, that’s been about it for the past few years. : )
ChatGPT…not all shine
And while we’re on shiny and I still have a few minutes until dinner (aka pizza delivery), can I also throw into the mix the current frenzy over ChatGPT and generative AI in the association community? If we’re going to champion diversity, equity and inclusion and denounce racism and taking advantage of marginalized groups, we also need some collective education about how AI works and the myriad social justice issues inherent in not just AI in general but ChatGPT in particular. A good and low-effort place to start is by watching the documentary Coded Bias on Netflix. There’s also a great accompanying set of resources, including a discussion guide and a bunch of other great things (scroll down to the bottom of that page for more than are listed above the fold).
Then a few things to read about ChatGPT in particular:
- OpenAI Used Kenyan Workers on Less Than $2 Per Hour to Make ChatGPT Less Toxic
- The Dark Side Of ChatGPT
- ChatGPT: New AI system, old bias?
- ChatGPT could be used for good, but like many other AI models, it’s rife with racist and discriminatory bias
- ChatGPT: Who Owns the Data?
- Danger in the Machine: The Perils of Political and Demographic Biases Embedded in AI Systems
I’ll leave it at that for now. And thanks for humoring me if you read this far; bonus points if you have any thoughts to add or additional links to share.