Social media has become a pivotal communication tool utilized widely by government agencies, schools, businesses and other entities. Professional associations also are recognizing how both leadership and members can benefit from a strong social media presence and the use of various digital tools. By creating your own private social network on a platform such as Go2s, your members can connect and share information within a designated virtual forum that is tailored to their interests and needs.

Challenges of Social Networks

Social media of all kind can sometimes be a two-edged sword. It is powerful and filled with potential, but also wrought with various challenges. Although private social networks manage to avoid some of the pitfalls experienced by large, public social media sites, there are still challenges when using them for your association. Here are a few common issues to be aware of:

1. Data Security

The protection of data is always a concern when it comes to using information technology (IT) and cloud-based digital tools. People tend to share a lot of information—sometimes even sensitive data—over social networking sites. They also access social media apps from their personal devices and not always using a secure network. While there is some discussion about who is responsible for making sure critical information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, it’s important you consider the security features of a private social network before implementing it for your association.

2. Budget Restrictions

Associations have limited resources and you want to be careful about how you’re investing them. In light of these budget restrictions, the costs of various digital communication tools are not something you want to incur carelessly. While some private social networking services come burdened with fees, however, you can find platforms and apps that are free to use.

3. Monitoring Content

Whenever you have multiple people from different backgrounds congregating virtually in a space, you want to make sure you’re doing what you can to foster a positive environment. While many association members use proper social media etiquette when posting, commenting, and sharing content on your network, there may be rare instances when the opposite is true. Your association leadership must decide how much monitoring you want to do, as well as who is responsible for enforcing any community guidelines.

Benefits of Social Networks

Although they come with their challenges, private social networks also afford an array of advantages for associations across industries. Here are some of the reasons why you should consider creating a community for your members:

1. Providing More Versatile Communication

One of the most important aspects of private social networks is the flexible communication. Through the use of this technology, association members and organizational stakeholders can keep in touch with one another regardless of where they live. Rather than having digital interactions spread across various platforms, they can take place within a single shared space. The ability to communicate effectively regardless of time or location is critical for associations with widespread memberships. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, this ability is equally important during unexpected emergencies even if your members are located relatively close to one another.

2. Sharing Membership Offerings

If your association occasionally has exclusive offerings available to members only, you can share them in a virtual space that is reserved specifically for those already involved in your association, as opposed to your website or Facebook page that is used by non-members. This is true not only of exclusive offerings, but also information or industry news that is relevant only to your organizational membership.

3. Collaborating and Meeting

Private social networks can also be used for organization-related interactions among your staff, as well as between your staff and other stakeholders, in a private, sanctioned environment, which is helpful for creating and maintaining appropriate boundaries. Whether your association members are collaborating on projects and sharing trusted recommendations, all of it can happen through the network. Additionally, you can use the virtual space for hosting annual membership meetings; creating signup sheets to organize activities and volunteers; and posting events on a group calendar.

A New Kind of Social Network

The question is not so much whether your association should employ a private social networking platform, but rather which one is best suited to providing you the numerous benefits while mitigating the challenges? As a free community app, Go2s can support private, flexible communication among your staff and association members without adding an extra cost to your budget. Members have several options for posting content, sharing information about resources, and chatting with one another individually or in a group, all of which can strengthen and enhance your association.