Social Media Club badge In line with the responsibilities I took on when, early in July, I accepted an invitation to join the interim advisory group for Social Media Club, I put my hand up to join Michael Brito and Aaron Strout as a group to look at membership issues – defined at the time as membership roles and responsibilities.

Which is the background to Michael’s post, How Des, Michael and Aaron Spent Labor Day Weekend: Brainstorming SMC Membership.

The three areas we identified to look at in this process were:

  1. How do we increase new membership of Social Media Club?
  2. How do we increase engagement and generate excitement for existing members?
  3. How do we localize SMC chapters on areas with few members and a lot of miles in between?

Item 3 was the one I wanted to work on. Let’s face it, as someone who lives, relative to most Social Media Club members, in a far off land, so far in fact that other folks on this planet refer to it as “down under”, it was no doubt fairly predictable that I would want to have something to say about international membership.

world map showing south on top
World Map with South “up over”: Author CaseyPenk, Vardion, via Wikimedia Commons

And even for many people in a country fairly brimming with Social Media Clubs, i.e. the USA, but not living in or near Austin, Texas, or New York New York, or other cities boasting a Social Media Club, I felt I had a perspective to offer, given that for me the closest Social Media Club, in the city of Brisbane (and so far the only one in this part of the world), is one and a half hours drive from where I live.

As you’ll be able to infer from our report as blogged by Michael, I believe that before we can provide pratical answers to the third question above, we need to resolve a more fundamental question. That question is: just  what do we mean by membership of Social Media Club?

And as with the map above, If we change our perspective, we might see new opportunities.

Is Social Media Club membership to be structured so as to only make sense for those people who live near a center which has a SMC (or the potential, in practice, to establish one) which meets on a regular basis in a physical space? And even if that concept allows for people who are only able to participate from time to time, say by virtue of travel to such centers, is there, practically speaking, scope for someone in more outlying areas and who may not travel to such centers, to be a bona fide, participating, contributing member of the Social Media Club network?

In other words, virtual members.

Or should the current – as I see it – fundamentally analog construction of Social Media Club membership be the only (practical) option. That would seem, on the face of it, counter-intuitive for a bunch of people who in many other areas of their business and social lives seem ok – even passionate – about being part of communities which are, for all practical purposes, virtual.

Or am I missing something really obvious?

If you have ideas or questions about this topic, please leave a comment on Michael’s post, or here. All suggestions welcome.

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Des Walsh is an executive coach. He helps business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide deal effectively with the feeling of being left behind or overwhelmed, or both, about social media – especially LinkedIn - and how to engage safely and effectively with social media to help grow their business. Connect with Des on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. And to stay in the loop, get Des’s weekly Social Business Bites (select snippets of his "best of the week" online finds).