The Association Bloggies: Ben Martin’s 2008 association blog awards

by Ben Martin, CAE on December 30, 2008 · 6 comments

Seems like every association has a Facebook presence, conferences are getting their own Twitter accounts, and conventions are hosting social media labs. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, 2008 was the year that social media went mainstream in the association industry. This year the association sector saw at least four surveys about the use of social media, the launch of a social media consultancy targeted at the association and nonprofit sectors, and more social media education than you can shake a stick at. You’re reading my third annual association blog awards post. Every year, I bestow “high honors” upon the best of the best association blogs, the bloggers who write them, social media stuff, and much, much more for your reading pleasure.

This year, we begin our awards presentation with the unseating of a two-time award winner in the best association blogger category! This category recognizes an individual blogger for a combination of great blogging voice, association-specific content, and regular posting. Jamie Notter has taken the award home each of the past two years, and although Jamie had a very strong 2008, I felt that another longtime association blogger made one heck of a comeback this year and overtook Jamie. Kevin Holland was back to posting frequently and challenging traditional association industry practices, giving practical advice, and daring to utter 19 unspoken truths for association leaders. Truth be told, there’s no association blogger who writes with as much personality as Kevin, but it was his unspoken truths meme that propelled him into the top spot for best association blogger of 2008.

Next we have our best blog about associations. This category is all about content, and I don’t take into account blogging voice, blog design or any of those intangibles for this award. It’s all about content. With the breadth and sheer amount of content that goes on Acronym, ASAE & The Center’s blog, it’s hard to imagine another association blog being able to challenge what Lisa Junker and Scott Briscoe have nurtured into the central hub of association conversation. The multi-author approach has its drawbacks in terms of differing voices and writing abilities, but as for covering a wide array of association industry topics on a regular basis, there’s no better way to do it. Lisa Junker’s dedication to leaving breadcrumbs on association blogs has certainly contributed to Acronym’s status as the center of the association blogosphere.

And now, on to our best new blogger of 2008. Like the best association blogger award, I take into account content, style, voice, etc. In other words, this award recognizes the full blogging package from association blogging newbies. Selecting this award winner is always very fun and usually very difficult. This year, it wasn’t difficult to choose a winner, but it was still fun getting to know all of the new association bloggers. I telegraphed my choice for 2008’s best new association blogger last month, so it shouldn’t be any surprise to regular readers that Frank Fortin takes home the honors. Frank consistently brings helpful information and sage advice that’s easy to process in a writing style that’s easy to read.

Now, on to the best new blog about associations. Again, this award is all about content, but from a blog started in 2008. Acronym may have the market cornered on the best blog about associations for the time being, but the category-bending A-List Bloggers Network may be just the thing to shove it aside. Yeah, sure, I may be a contributor (just like I was contributing to Acronym when I named it best blog about associations in 2006), but A-List boasts 15 top-notch association bloggers, including many who have earned “high honors” in my previous association blog awards. Kudos to Dave Sabol and Jeff De Cagna for dreaming up and implementing A-List. Now, it’s up to the contributors to challenge Acronym for the best blog about associations in 2009.

Let’s move on to the oh-so-concisely-titled most blogged/buzzworthy story/meme of the year. Looking back on the blog posts of 2008, there really weren’t that many cohesive conversations. Overall, association bloggers went their own ways, infrequently citing each others’ posts, which made for a fragmented conversation. Further dissipating the discussion was the wide variety of locations in which it took place. From Twitter to Facebook to comments on blogs to custom socnets, it was very difficult to hone in on a single topic that got the most attention. Still, there were two stories or memes that stick out in my mind.

First was the “Secret Session” held at ASAE & The Center’s Annual Conference. Arranged just a few short weeks before the conference, it was promoted exclusively using social media and online word of mouth. And the hype was huge. In spite of the fact that it had to be moved (twice) within the San Diego Convention Center, about 200 people showed up for the session. Unfortunately, according to most association bloggers, (Rick Johnston, Cindy Butts, Kevin Holland, and me) the event failed to deliver content commensurate with its hype. The organizers were apologetic.

Perhaps the other major meme of the year echoed agita about the Secret Session. This meme was a disjointed conversation about social media education and the kind of education associations should provide to their members. As a guest contributor on Acronym, Scott Oser wondered if the association community had gone overboard on providing social media education. Although most of the discussion on this topic took place in the comments to that original post on Acronym, a few others had related posts about the best approaches to giving members the relevant education they want and need.

Interestingly, the coolest new social media thing of the year is what alerted me to the conversation Scott Oser fired up about social media education. I sorta hesitate to do this because it’s my project, but association comments-o-matic wins in this category. It’s the perfect place for keeping your ear to the ground to understand what kinds of topics are resonating with association blog readers.

And finally, the best blog post of 2008. Seeing as much of the association conversation this year has been dominated by the dire global economic straits, I think this post about how associations can grow in today’s economy from 2008’s best association blogger, Kevin Holland, takes the cake. I’ve referred back to this post often and have cited it a few times here on my own blog as well.

Thanks for reading, and congratulations to all of those bestowed these “high honors”!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Maddie Grant December 30, 2008 at 3:31 pm

Nice one. Thanks Ben, as always, for the round-up and congrats to the winners!


Lisa Junker December 30, 2008 at 4:54 pm

Ben, thank you so much for your kind words about Acronym!

I completely agree with your other great award picks–I drop everything to read a post of Kevin’s as soon as it goes up, and (as I’ve said before) Frank is a fabulous addition to the association blogging community.

And if you had been too modest to mention comments-o-matic yourself, I had planned to do it for you! I think it adds so much–it makes it so much easier to follow and participate in conversations. I bet if we went back and counted, the number of comments on association blogs would prove to have gone up steadily since comments-o-matic was launched.

I personally think that Acronym is going to get even better in the coming year, with Scott’s new position focusing more specifically on social media; he’s got some great ideas for it already, and I know he’ll have more. But I also think that the A-List Network will get better and better in the coming year. I’m just happy that so many association folks can benefit from the great writing and thoughts shared by association bloggers! It’s a great time to be in associations. =)


Cindy December 30, 2008 at 8:41 pm

Totally agree with you Ben. Kevin Holland’s posts (social media’s “Mr. Holland’s Opus”) are consistently superb and entirely relevant to the practice of association management.


Kevin December 31, 2008 at 9:06 am

Thank you very much for the kind words, Ben and all! I really appreciate it. May 2009 be a great year for everyone!


Maggie December 31, 2008 at 11:32 am

I LOVE comments-o-matic and can’t even tell you how much I appreciate the way it directs me to great posts and conversations (like this one) that I would have otherwise missed. No more having to click “notify me of followup comments by email” because they’ll be right in my inbox anyway 😉


Jamie Notter December 31, 2008 at 11:39 am

My dreams of “three-peat” dashed! Well, now you’ve given me my blogging motivation in 2009! Congratulations to everyone, and kudos to you Ben for doing this. It’s a nice part of our blogging community.


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