I am a member of quite a few professional bodies including the RICS, Central Association of Agricultural Valuers, Institute of Quarrying, Association for Geographic Information and have just joined the Association of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (ARPAS). I have been a member of some, for example the RICS, since qualifying in 1983 and others for a much shorter period. In that timeframe we have also gone from writing letters to instant communication via the web and social media.
Being 50+ I am or have been on the margins of social media. Know it's there, used it a bit but not really embraced it although do use it sporadically. I mainly use it to gather information and to keep upto date and compared with even 10 years ago you can have every possible news story or social chatter to hand within minutes of it happening. For this I have found Twitter very good and many organisations and companies really do use it effectively, the RICS being a case in point. Many other companies are also very good at feeding information, news and stories and another good example is CEMEX who I think are leading the way in their sector. I also believe that we need to be cognisant of the youger generations who use social media as their primary communication conduit, for them email is a bit old hat.
That brings me to ARPAS who I joined recently. Like others they have a web site but also a closed Facebook Group. That in itself has been a revelation and to me an excellent example of when social media can be extremely effective to engage an audience. As with any group or organisation it only works when sufficient numbers participate in it regularly and in this case there are a lot of regular contributors. The Group has proved to be an excellent source of technical advice and general help on anything related to flying drones (or Unmaned Aerial Vehicles - UAV's). Almost daily there will be a question raised on a technical query, for example what are the optimum settings for a particular camera, or as another example a regulatory issue. There is also the occassional cry for help - I am on the way to x and I need a widget, can anyone help?
It is interesting how social media can be so effective and I have to conclude that much of it's success has to be down to the information being current and relevant. With an active group of members no one individual is having to create content to maintain interest, it fuels itself. I guess that in larger corporates you will have someone managing content but that itself would create an internal bottle neck unless they of course trust staff to post directly. Maybe corporate rules and reputational concerns will stiffle the use of social media?