My Social Media Prediction for 2009--Assocations Will Get it Wrong

'Tis the season for closing the door on the old year and looking forward to the new one. Rather than trying to cleverly and accurately sum up the state of social media in 2008, I'll just paraphrase CNET news' 2008 wrap-up post:
"...it was a terrific year for social networks. Mostly."

Now go read the whole post for a very comprehensive year-end review of social media.

Now on to 2009. Peter Kim, a former Forrester Research analyst,asked 14 social media heavy-hitters to blog about their thoughts of what 2009 might have in store with regard to social media.

The one that resonated with me the most?

"Although it is now cheaper to launch an initiative leveraging Web 2.0 technology - it requires qualified and passionate people to make them successful." - David Armano

Why did that one grab my attention? Because I totally agree with him...and I fear that many associations won't get it and it will prevent their social networking initiatives from succeeding.

Let me back it up to say that my prediction for 2009 is that associations will finally decide that yes, it is time to get on the social media bandwagon, if they haven't already. The buzz has been building all year--I won't even attempt to add up all the sessions, webinars, blog posts, articles, tweets about the importance of social media--and I'm pretty sure that by now, the majority of association folks who have resisted will decide that, yes, it's time to do this. So they'll either hire social media professionals or have existing staff absorb those responsibilities. Either way, I predict that many of them will get it all wrong.

Why? Because being social media savvy is largely about personal brand--and associations aren't about personal brand. They're about hierarchy--um, I mean teams--and doing things the way they've always been done. A qualified social media professional pretty much needs to eat, breathe and sleep the part. They need to blog, tweet, read blogs and generally be immersed in the online community--actually, many of them. There are plenty of people out there doing this; however, the thing with social media professionals is that, to a large extent, you need to be one to recognize one. And the association folks who will be in charge of selecting the right candidates aren't, in all likelihood, social media professionals themselves.

Here's what will happen. Being invested in ROI and traditional metrics as they are, associations will want to hire sure things: people with resumes boasting great credentials in communications or marketing or web. The guy or gal whose main claim to fame is being a social media rockstar? Not so much. So the hiring managers will select people with traditional communications or marketing backgrounds who can throw around a bunch of social media buzzwords but who have no real experience with social media.

The result? Well now, you'll have to wait for my 2010 predictions for that.