Online social media platforms have invaded our lives and created new and unforeseen ways for people to interact, collaborate, and share knowledge.

For Associations and Professional Societies (for simplicity, “Associations”) the emergence of Silicon Valley based platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter creates risk and opportunity since long before the social media technology platforms came along, Associations were the original knowledge sharing networks.

In the risk category, the one-size-fits-all approach of the mega-platform providers allows third parties to co-opt your brand (sometimes directly), to dilute your relevance, to challenge your organization’s thought leadership, and to erode your membership.  Furthermore, as the recruitment of millennials becomes increasingly important to the long term viability of your Association, existing social media platforms create some switching barriers as millennials deepen their reliance on them.  

In the opportunity category, while no single Association could ever muster the resources to build a platform to compete with the Silicon Valley juggernauts, by embracing innovative platforms tailored to the needs of Associations and offered by smaller companies (such as Higher Logic, Informz, SmartBrief or Brainsy to name a few), individual Associations can benefit from “synthetic size” since the collection of all participating associations wields significant buying power and market reach. In turn, this provides a reliable stream of revenue for companies to conduct R&D and innovate for all their association clients.   

Our company, Brainsy, powers Expert Calling Networks (ECN) which are feature-rich knowledge sharing platforms. At the core of an ECN is a turnkey and patented call transaction service which enables people to get paid for phone calls. Each ECN also contains a directory of experts and advanced content sharing and distribution tools. We’re the “new kid on the block” in the association world -- but the reception we’ve been receiving is fantastic.

What I’ve been hearing as we talk with Associations and get their feedback on why they intend to deploy an ECN can be summarized into seven reasons why your Association needs to consider an Expert Calling Network.

1) Turnkey and Easy to Implement: We offer and support a highly configurable and customizable platform that we operate on your behalf. In fact, to launch an ECN, your organization doesn’t need any technology know-how or staff.  A mere link from your Association’s website to your branded ECN is enough to announce to people that you’re in business.   

2) “Super-Glue” Sticky Features: Existing social media platforms can be a sink-hole of time and investment with no clear path to monetization and therefore, no clear Return on Investment (ROI). Each Association ECN gives individual members or experts access to a Personal Media ECN which can become their destination hub and eliminate the need for them to operate a myriad of other tools to promote themselves online. With minimal effort, your association and members will see increased engagement and visibility across the web which will keep them coming back. 

3) Year Round Relevance: Some Associations build their business model entirely around “the big conference” (or a series of smaller conferences) which is valuable to members and revenue generating for the Association. But the real world operates 24/7 and year round. So what happens in the “off season” when a member needs help in a pinch and can’t wait until the next annual show? An ECN provides a year-round mechanism to bring people together for short exchanges -- all while keeping your Association at the center of the activity. 

4) An ECN can be a B2B and/or B2C Solution: In the business-to-business (B2B) world, your members or supplier partners can interact with each other for peer-to-peer or peer-to-mentor advice. In the business-to-consumer (B2C) world, your association members will be delighted with a whole new way to reach prospective clients, peers, or consumers. Never before has there been an association member service quite like this and which helps members showcase their expertise, market, or sell their knowledge to consumers.  

5) Non-dues Revenue Stream: Depending on how we jointly decide to monetize the ECN (e.g. paid calls, premium listing fees, or advertising), your Association can share in the revenue generated. Non-dues revenue is important to many associations and an ECN is a mechanism for both you AND your participating experts to earn new revenue.   

6) Flexible Implementation: If your organization wants to operate an ECN for a small closed community and to select what percentage you collect of any call revenue, then you can pay an annual fee to license the ECN technology. Alternatively, we offer an ad-supported model whereby you pay nothing (not a typo) and 3rd party advertisers support the operational cost of the platform. Under this arrangement you can still share in revenue generated so it’s truly win-win. Either way, we can work flexibly to explore how to quickly bring the benefits of an ECN to your members. 

7) First-to-Market Advantage: At least for now, being first in your industry to deploy an ECN could get you ahead of any expert “land grab.” Since many organizations have overlapping mandates and many could someday offer an ECN to their members, being first to market will be important as it is unlikely experts will want to create multiple “hubs” and will concentrate their own marketing and promotion efforts one single ECN Profile they own. 

Is your Association a candidate to deploy an Expert Calling Network? Do you need to reclaim your position as the original knowledge sharing network in your industry? If you’d like to learn more, send us an email (info@brainsy.com) or call us at t: 855-74-BRAINSY.

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