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March 22, 2006

Virtualization Wrap

Last week concluded the Research in Action Super Trends Discussion of Virtualization. Here's a little excerpt of a summary I wrote on the topic...

1. Self-forming communities (i.e. virtual communities forming without an association's involvement) are everywhere and, if aligned with a particular profession or trade, will have a range of sentiments towards the association in that space. Associations need to devise a strategy for engaging or dealing with these communities.
2. Associations need to view their virtualization strategies through the lens of demassification. Some members will adopt virtual communities. The majority, on average, won't (at least for now). Associations need to find the appropriate mix of virtual and traditional community opportunities. As technology becomes more pervasive in our lives, the target will continually move towards more emphasis on virtual community offerings.
3. Associations can't "create" virtual communities because communities are not formed from the top-down, they grow up from the grass roots. Associations can, however, provide the appropriate conditions for community to flourish. I call this activity community cultivation. When cultivating, it's important to know when to get out of the way so that the community can begin to grow and change on its own. Cultivation will mean different things in different communities.
4. We need to have appropriate expectations for our virtual communities. Even the most well researched and well implemented communities can fail if members aren't ready for them.
5. The jury is still out on whether or not virtual communities enhance associations' recruitment and retention efforts.

We started a discussion about the Cyber-Mobbing super trend on Monday. Send an e-mail to to sign up, or learn more about the Research in Action community.

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