Associations love looking at case studies from for-profit companies that have been successful in growing their business using social media. The technology that many associations have been really looking at lately is twitter and when doing so they point to companies like Dell and California Tortilla as companies that are doing it right. To me what these companies, and many others, are doing is using a new medium to implement traditional direct response marketing.
I follow both of these companies on twitter and the majority of what I receive from them is reminders about special limited time offers and/or reminders about ways I can use their "membership" program to my advantage. I do not see how this is any different than using a direct mail package, an email or even a phone call or fax to get people to purchase something yet I get the feeling that many marketers feel like these companies are truly breaking new ground.
What I don't see them doing is using social media to truly drive response. I have only heard of a few organizations that have used limited time discounts or special benefits in tweets and Facebook postings. I think it would be great if like California Tortilla an association had double rewards Tuesday where members would get 2 books for the price of 1. Or if, like Dell, they would tweet out special discounts on products and services that the membership would value. These types of things need to be done strategically but they are easy to implement with the technology we have today. Why are associations not doing more of this? I can't figure it out. Can you?