I got some good comments on my last post asking why associations are here? (Since that post, I did pick up Clay Shirky's book and am starting to plow through it. Good stuff so far.) Ellen made a good point about professionalism. Many employers want their employees to get professional development and will budget for conferences, training or trade shows. Associations are a key piece of that. I am not sure employers would pay for a person to go to an event created by a Facebook group. (You might get better content from the Facebook group meeting.)
Maddie says content is key and that associations need to be at the forefront. I think the main issue is that associations need to provide a place, the proper tools, and the recognition so that people will give their content to associations rather than other places.
Lindy wants us to be enablers of groups and be the ultimate resource in our industries and not just producers of events.
Ben started this conversation last month and got a number of comments as well.
Here is my take. I agree with Ellen about the professionalism piece. When you hire a plumber, you tend to go for the guy with the nice truck/website/uniform/advertisment or whatever else that makes him/her look more professional than the guy with the beat up pickup truck and cutoff denim shorts. You don't know who the better plumber is, but you are going to go with the more professional one. However, professionalism is only the start. An association must provide value, plain and simple. Each industry will be different, but there must be something worth spending my money on. And I better not be able to get it somewhere else for free.
When it comes to these Web 2.0, self-formed groups, 99.9% will reach a point where they will have a project which will be too big for them to handle without a true management/organizational structure. Or the funds won't be there. Or their employers won't give them the time to work on it. Or the members of the group won't commit because it is just too much. That's where the associations will thrive. And that's where I agree with Lindy in that associations need to embrace these self-formed groups and be there to take the reigns when need be.