What is Social Media?

Managing an Association's Social Media Risks and Coverage Exposures 

The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) recently hosted a webinar on Managing an Association’s Social Media Risks and Coverage Exposures.

Together with Jared Anderson from Axis Pro, we talked about the different categories of risk that organizations are exposed to when using social media.

This included: 

Employment – How you use social media to identify, qualify, recruit, retain and even dismiss employees is one of the most delicate areas from a risk perspective.

Privacy – Who owns a social media profile when it is used for work? Are social media communications private if company equipment is used?

Copyright  –  In an era of “copy & click” it is all too easy for staff, volunteers  or members to violate copyrighted materials or have your copyrights breached.

Intellectual Property – Who owns materials that are created by your collective social media communities? How do you defend your ownership rights?

Anti-trust  - Just like in the offline world, collusion, price fixing or anti-competitive behavior is a potential liability for your organization.

Defamation – For some reason, people can be more aggressive when communicating online than they would be in person. This can lead to mistakes being made that have a liability for the organization.

Marketing – If you are operating in a regulated or restricted  area of commerce (health care for example), you need to be aware of the limitations on certain types of marketing and sales activities. 

Trade secrets – Because of the ease of copying confidential information that is not only widely disseminated, but it becomes almost impossible to retrieve once it is out.

The bottom line is that your D&O, Media or E&O insurance policy is most likely not up to date and therefore may not be giving you the coverage that you need. It is also impossible to cover every possible liability and therefore a social media plan that includes solid policies and procedures is needed to minimize uncovered exposure.

Suggestion? Make sure you have a professionally developed social media strategy and talk with your insurance agent or broker to understand which social media related risks, if any, you currently have covered.

Want to listen to the recorded webinar session?

Click: Managing an Association’s Social Media Risks and Coverage Exposures.



Practical Tips for Managing LinkedIn and Facebook (on Top of Everything Else)

Reprinted with permission. Copyright 2011 ASAE, Washington, DC. Originally published in Communication News, February 2011. www.asaenet.org

By: Carol Meerschaert


I bet you've never thought to yourself, "I'd like more work to do." So how can you possibly accomplish everything and manage your association's LinkedIn group and Facebook page as well?

You need not be an expert; you just need some expertise. You can stay on top of the important tasks by using two acronyms I've developed. Just take it FAST and take it SLOW and here we go.

FAST: Frequency, Access, Statistics, Templates


Always remember: Social media moves quickly; you snooze, you lose. So, build short time slots into your daily schedule for checking and updating your groups (LinkedIn) and pages (Facebook). For example, schedule 10-minute slots three times a day.

Set up auto-notifications so that you know when someone writes on your Facebook wall or posts a discussion on LinkedIn. The easiest response: Just "like" the post.

Post at least a couple of times a week to keep things fresh. It will give your audience something to react to and set standards for the sort of content they should deliver.


Keep in mind that it's very easy to create controlled access to your group. At the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association, we position our members-only LinkedIn group as a member benefit, and more than half of our members belong to it.

Speed things up by multitasking. I process 10 to 20 requests to join per week. That takes about 10 minutes total and can be done while I'm on a conference call so it is not a time sink.

Save even more time by uploading your new members into the group as they join to make them preapproved. What if you don't have the bandwidth to check member status? Just make yours an open group.

Recruit volunteers to serve as page admins on Facebook and managers of the group on LinkedIn. These volunteers can help seed discussions and monitor what's posted.

Just be sure to take the time to write out guidelines so everyone is clear on what's OK.

Stay fresh without being annoying. Our Facebook fan page grows steadily. We keep status updates steady—but not obnoxiously frequent—by announcing major events and posting photos of the events afterward. We also post a notice when new videos appear on our YouTube channel. This kind of regular posting takes less than two hours a week.


Keep track of what gets the most interest and when. Social media come with boatloads of free statistics worth a thousand words. I ran a couple of Facebook ads and found that our clicks came almost exclusively on Friday and the weekend. So guess when I post things on Facebook? How is your group growing? How's engagement? Do people post discussions? Do photos get more clicks than links? Are shorter posts more popular? Use the stats to guide you so you can give members what they want and stop wasting time posting things they don't care for.


Use the template feature in your LinkedIn group to set up and send automatic responses. You can use templates for requests to join, for approvals, and when you decline membership. I'm a big fan of "one and done." I even have a template for when I have to remove job postings from our group. (We don't allow them, preferring to drive traffic to our online career center instead.)

Now it's time to go …

SLOW: Search, Links, Outreach, Work


Always think search engine optimization. Instead of typing out URLs or remembering to bookmark sites before clicking away, many people simply Google a short descriptor. When someone searches for "HBA," I don't want the first page of results to be about the Hawaiian Bible Association or health and beauty aids. Your social media will enhance your SEO by adding incoming links to your site. Check how you're doing by searching for your organization on LinkedIn and Facebook. Set up a Google Alert account to see when and where your organization is being mentioned.


Keep in mind that the fastest, easiest way to get social media content is to post links from your website to LinkedIn and Facebook. You'll save a ton of time, get the message across, and drive traffic to your website. Copy and paste is all it takes.


Don't spend any more time and money than you have to on member acquisition. Using social media makes acquisition better, faster, cheaper. Chances are that friends of your members on Facebook and connections on LinkedIn are also in your target market. Use ads on these sites to target by geography, career level, and employer. You can view the results in a minute each day and alter if needed to reach your goal. This is so much easier than the "spray and pray" bulk mail methods of the last century.

Allow chapters to have their own Facebook pages. The HBA Greater Philadelphia chapter is a shining example of how to engage members using Facebook. The volunteers ask event speakers to post engagement questions before an event, discuss key points from the event, and then post photos afterward. Although this chapter was started just four years ago, it reached 1,000 members in 2010.


Enjoy the many ways social media lets you work smarter. Using social media has not only allowed us to decrease the number of eblasts we send, but it has increased member engagement. It lets our chapters that don't have one of our signature programs (women in transition, women in science) to connect their members to our larger community.

I cannot directly attribute our membership growth to social media alone, but in the year I have been with the HBA, we have increased from 5,000 to nearly 6,000 members, even as we've experienced what probably was the most tumultuous year in the healthcare industry. Facebook and LinkedIn are two more tools for your toolbox. Learn to use them efficiently and they'll help you to reach out to a new audience, engage members, and drive traffic to your website.

Carol Meerschaert is director of marketing and communications at the Healthcare Businesswomen's Association in Fairfield, New Jersey. She'll share her volunteer guidelines with you if you email her at carolm@hbanet.org

Carol is also a member of the Linked Users LinkedIn Group. Join other online community owners and managers at: LinkedUsers


Who is Policing the Internet?

Maryland Attorney General, Doug Gansler, spoke at the law firm of Whiteford, Taylor, Preston on 20 January 2011 in Baltimore about the steps he and other States Attorney General offices are taking to protect consumers when using online social media platforms.

In particular, the issue of privacy, information tracking and how that information is either sold or shared between commercial entities was a hot topic.

According to Gansler, "the law is woefully behind the use of technology and the Internet today". As the Vice President of the National Association of Attorney Generals (NAAG), Mr. Gansler is helping law enforcement across the United States to focus more attention on how to protect consumers when they are using online applications.

This includes social media sites such as Facebook, Apple's wildly successful App store, or one of GOOGLE's many online applications. At issue is the enormous amount of personally identifiable data that is being collected, how its is used and the increasing exposure of citizens and consumers to identity fraud or worse.

Everyone has an interest in how laws are applied to online activities. Whether as a user, a consumer products company, a member of an online peer group, law enforcement, the judiciary or legal counsel, clarity is needed over how an ever increasing amount of personal data and information is used and safeguarded.

Traditionally, the Attorney General's office has focused on identifying and capturing online sexual predators, a role that was closley coordinated with Federal authorities. While those efforts to protect vulnerable children will continue, in the future, there will be more attention paid to privacy issues.

This is in part due to the increasing incidents of bullying perpetrated by individuals using false identities to torment schoolmates or work colleagues. False online identities are also being used for organized crime and fraud purposes.

An example of what the regulatory future might look like includes the FTC's "do not track" recommendation issued in December 2010. While this is a new Federal initiative, it is something that the State Attorney General's are watching. Gansler predicts that we will see more joint efforts across State lines to help protect citizens in this new and rapidly evolving legal environment.

NOTE: Are you interested in the legal issues of using social media?

Visit SOCIALEX - The Social Media Legal Community for more information

You can also join the SOCIALEX group on LinkedIn!


Where’s the BEEF?

A lot of organizations are starting to ask “Where’s the beef?” in social media.

Having thousands of “fans” and friends and links and networks are intuitively good but just how good are they for the business? How can you demonstrate the business case for investing scarce time and resources into social media?

Just as traditional advertising over the years had to demonstrate that it could be measured, tracked and managed, social media must also prove that it drives real business results. The logical assumption is that generating lots of positive word of mouth communication and using new tools and platforms to increase engagement with your customers and communities must drive better results.

The goal is to get from point “A” (we know we want to leverage social media) to point “B” (we know what kind of real business results social media is delivering).  So how do you get from point “A” to point “B”?

Be careful what you wish for….

Many organizations are approaching social media as a pure numbers game, but some of those numbers can be deceiving. It is common knowledge that most businesses and organizations experience the Pareto rule whereby 20% of the customer base generates 80% of the revenue and profit.

One of the first caveats about social media is that the “culture of free” attracts the wrong kinds of clients. What do I mean by the “wrong kind of clients”?

What would you rather have?

10,000 “fans” on Facebook that convert to paying clients at 1% on your lowest margin business….or 1,000 qualified prospects that convert at 7% on your higher margin offerings?

The numbers might look like this:

A.)  10,000 X .01 = 100 X $100 = $10,000 revenue (=$1.00 per “lead”)

-  or -

B.)    1,000 X .07 =   70 X $250 = $17,500 revenue  (=$17.50 per “lead”)

I will take option B every time.

The difference is have a solid strategy around social media that goes far beyond just getting more “fans” and followers. It is about getting the right mix in your customer community to deliver long term, sustainable results.

So the next time someone is asking “Where’s the beef” in your social media sandwich, think about the mix of clients you have in your social media community and how you can influence getting better customers and not just more contacts.

Click here to view the full slide presentation on this topic that was recently delivered to the American Marketing Association.


Case Study: The Brooklyn Museum

There is an interesting case study that was posted by the Brooklyn Museum about their social media campaign, what failed and why they are changing their approach. It is interesting from several aspects: It is instructive for mission lead organizations (as most associations are) and it highlights what can happen when you assume but do not know how your members are actually using social media. If you read the posting, the principles of what they learned about how their members actually use social media are the real lesson here.

You can read the post at: http://budurl.com/SMCase1

I also want to share that the association member social media survey project we just launched is already producing some really interesting results. For example, we asked the question about how members prefer to be communicated with and which modes of communication they actively discourage. This covers communicating by email, website, social media groups, newsletter, face to face, etc. The answers help to put these different channels into perspective, especially when adding social media as a new channel(s).

As another example, the American Bar Association estimates that approximately 45% of attorneys have a LinkedIn account. My own studies show that for in-house counsel specifically, the number is lower at about 33%. If you are one of the different associations or organizations that have legal professional as members for example, knowing how many of your members are using which platforms, and how they are using them is hugely valuable.

If your association would like to measure how your members are using social media and be able to benchmark with other associations, please read the description of the project at http://budurl.com/SocSurvey Any questions you might have about confidentiality and how the survey is managed are answered there. Participation is FREE!