Event Tech Strategy, Insights & Trends.

My Five Biggest Lessons from Five Years of Hosting Association Chat

This post was written by KiKi L’Italien, social media strategist and host of Association Chat (#assnchat) on Twitter. 


Five years ago Jeff De Cagna started the first Association Chat (#assnchat on Twitter).  A little while later, I began guest hosting for Jeff whenever he wasn’t available. Eventually Jeff asked if I would officially take over the hosting of Association Chat – essentially, I was to be the Jimmy Fallon to his Jay Leno. Naturally, I was stoked as I had found these weekly chats to be so professionally inspiring. As could be imagined, I have learned quite a bit from the past five years of hosting Association Chat.  For instance:

The faces and names change, but the community remains

Over the years the Association Chat community has grown in ways unimaginable.  While many of the original participants have moved on to hopefully bigger and better things, new players with new ideas have taken the fore.  And as the faces change, I find it fascinating that each time I meet people from Association Chat in person at the many Society of Association Executive events I attend, it feels like meeting an old friend with a shared past. Likewise, I always hear how the chat has allowed people who wouldn’t have otherwise met each other in the association industry to meet with “friends” at ASAE events and meetings.

Fresh voices help keep things exciting

During the week, surrounding the chat hour, the hashtag #assnchat is busily used as for a means for people to share updates and content via Twitter.  This allows the online #assnchat community to extend far beyond the confines of the chat alone, and fosters outreach to both regular content providers and the lurkers who regularly follow what’s shared.

When we have guest hosts, I often notice the differences in approach regarding how questions are presented, and how these changes impact the accompanying responses. This should in no way be misconstrued as a negative, as hearing from different community voices allows for the proliferation of new thoughts and perspectives which can serve teach even the most seasoned veteran.

The more things change, the more they stay the same

Many of the original topics we talked about five years ago have become “evergreen” issues, representing a set of constantly recurring themes that haven’t changed much over the years. For instance, people grapple with generational questions when it comes to managing the changing membership cadres of their associations…and everyone will always wonder what burgeoning technology will be the “next big thing” in the association industry.

Crowdsourcing problems (and solutions) helps everyone

When a person comes to the chat with a particular question, it’s interesting to see how people go out of their way to provide resources and examples. It is often illuminating to the group as a whole, allowing all of us to learn from each other, teaching new lessons we couldn’t have predicted on our own.

Don’t be afraid to experiment

We have tried Google Hangouts for special tweetchats, we have had live web shows that featured discussions during the chats and we have an Association Chat Book Club that’s met twice to discuss association and business-related books. The lesson I’ve learned from all of this is to not be afraid of experimentation. Recently we discovered the Nurph platform, a new tool that helps chat participants exponentially – by cutting through all of the background noise, thus helping participants to clearly see who is actively engaging in the chat. It is that sense of adventure and will to try new things that help to make things more exciting for everyone.

What does the future hold for Association Chat? For one, I would love to have Google Hangout chats on a more regular basis – maybe with the occasional special guest! A group of us are also actively working on expanding the Association Chat Book Club so that it has both a virtual component and the ability to take it “on the road” to associations that may want to discuss specific books we’re focused on for the year.  Some of these ideas may hit, while others may not…but no matter what happens, I feel confident the Association Chat will continue to be both a, valuable, and fun (!) experience for the association community.

If anyone wants to participate, they should join us on Twitter every Tuesday at 2 pm ET. They can find a list of upcoming chat topics at http://nurph.com/assnchat/chats.


KiKiHeadshot2KiKi L’Italien

KiKi L’Italien is a social media strategist, member experience advocate, and senior consultant for Aptify. She specializes in creating high impact online communications and initiatives using integrated media. A catalyst by nature, KiKi tends to bring unique ideas and dramatic results out of projects with her own brand of entrepreneurial moxie. KiKi helps associations connect with client and member communities beyond “doing” social networking through thoughtful social media outreach and member experience testing; fostering business growth via socially enabled organizations. KiKi is a contributing author to Social Networking for Nonprofits: Increasing Engagement in a Mobile and Web 2.0 World (ASAE, 2010), and co-author of the Best Practices for Social Media Networking series among other published works. A regular columnist for dozens of blogs and guest commentator on several podcasts, she also hosts the weekly Association Chat for association and nonprofit professionals held every Tuesday on Twitter. She blogs at Acronym Soup.

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