July 31st notice about our first-ever dues increase

Dear SocialMedia.org Member,

Kurt and I wanted to give you a heads-up on 2014 dues at SocialMedia.org. Here’s the story:

This whole thing started back in 2007 when a few executives from giant companies were sure that this “blogging thing” was going to catch on. They wanted a trusted group of friends who could share experiences and off-the-record insights so everyone could grow together.

So we drew up a plan on the back of a napkin, and three of us got to work to make this project the best it could be. Nobody had any idea how amazing it would become.

Five-and-a-half years later, the community has blossomed — more than 250 major brands. People just like you, with jobs just like yours, at companies just like yours. Helping each other every day.

It’s so much more valuable than anyone expected.

Who ever heard of a six-year old discussion group?

Most of them fade away or turn into clutter after a few months.

But a community like ours — with the support, generosity, and friendship that our members show each other every day — is something that just doesn’t happen very often. There’s a spirit and a bond that we share that’s unique. It’s amazing how often the word “family” comes up.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that you can count on your fellow members to answer that question, warn you about that pitfall, and have your back. It’s all those hard-to-measure things that you can’t get from an agency or a vendor that provide immense value in helping you succeed as a social business leader.

You may be surprised by how hard it is to deliver this quality.

Did you know that we have 25 full-time staff dedicated to providing you with an amazing member experience — including one community manager for every 40 members? (That’s an unrivaled level of service.) Those community managers are backed up by event producers, content creators, an unbelievable support team, and a lot of tech.

You may not have known that, because we try to keep it invisible.

One of our guiding principles is that “members never do the work.” You get to enjoy the benefits of membership — with none of the hassles of other organizations (committees, fundraisers, politics, etc.).

Of course (I’m sure you know what’s coming), this level of service costs quite a lot more to deliver than it did when it was just three people on staff.

We’re raising our dues for the first time since 2007 (ever, actually), to $15,000.

We bet our entire business on a simple commitment to amazing service.

If we do a good job at giving you great insights and experiences, you’ll renew. (Nearly everyone does, and the early members are coming back for their sixth year.)

Other groups are constantly trying to upsell you — reports, consulting, trade show booths, and all the rest. They don’t care as much about the membership experience, because that’s not where they make their money.

We don’t have a safety net of revenue from other products. We have to thrill you to stay in business, and it’s the only thing we do.

We have 25 people who wake up and go to bed every day thinking about how to help you win.

So, here are the details.

Annual dues will be $15,000 starting March 1, 2014.

  • If payment is received any time prior to February 1, 2014, you can pay the current rate of $10,000.
  • You can pre-pay for up to 3 years’ dues at the current rate (a common request, and a savings of up to $15,000).

Something you should know: Since March 1, 2013, every new member has paid the higher rate. (We grandfathered loyal members like you for an extra year as a show of thanks, but didn’t want to make a big deal about it.)

It’s worth it.

The new dues are a bit of a hit, we know, but still an extraordinary value compared to what you pay for canned research, generic conferences, or a day of consulting.

It’s a bargain when you realize that you’re getting a handcrafted personal experience from dedicated professionals who work every day to help you be more successful.

SocialMedia.org is the only place looking out for you — the head of social at a big brand — exclusively.

Without this community, you don’t have a vendor-free resource that is 100% in your corner. We exist solely to help you succeed, personally and professionally. And we all succeed together.

This is money well spent — and the value it brings you is just going to keep getting better.

Thank you.

We’re grateful for your support and proud to have you in the family. It is an honor for all of us to be part of such a meaningful organization, with such wonderful members. It’s a pleasure to support you and the worthy work you do.

I know that money issues are tough, and we’re happy to help any way we can. Please feel free to talk with me (andy@socialmedia.org, 512-651-4800) or Kurt (kurt@socialmedia.org, 312-932-9000) anytime.

Thank you,

Andy Sernovitz

P.S. OK, Andy — tell me how I’m going to get budget approval for this.

Sure! Paste this into a memo (or we can send it over in PowerPoint if you’d like):

Dear Boss:

SocialMedia.org is one of the best investments we make on our social media program. It gives us an incredible value in training, research/industry intelligence, best practices, and risk reduction. At less than $2,150 per seat ($15,000 total) it’s quite a value compared to attending conferences or hiring a consultant. Here are the deliverables that we receive:

1. Training value:

  • 40 training calls/year
  • Real-time discussions and forums (very focused and valuable)
  • Access to 2 seats at each of 6 brands-only best-practices meetings

2. Research and intelligence:

  • Peer benchmarking with direct insight into comparable programs
  • Non-public information that is unavailable in other research, reports, or panels, because we get it directly from other brands in confidential meetings
  • Substantial time savings from shared strategies, policies, and plans
  • Objective double-check on advice we get from vendors

3. Best practices from brands like us:

  • Vertical industry-specific data, use cases, and comparables
  • Horizontal cross-industry practices that we don’t get from our industry-specific trade groups
  • Real time (often same-day) answers to breaking situations and new tech that our other resources often take weeks or months to compile

4. Risk reduction (this alone could save us $100,000+):

  • Vendor risk reduction: We can vet vendors with brands who have already used them, avoiding substantial risk (and increasing the likelihood of a successful launch)
  • Project risk reduction: We can compare our high-cost, high-profile, high-risk projects with companies like ours who have already done it, immediately identifying obstacles, hidden traps, and other avoidable risk factors
  • Policy/ethics risk reduction: In-depth briefings on these risks, often directly from regulators — this is an area most of our agencies aren’t trained to monitor

Most important, membership is completely exclusive to brands (and only to their senior social media teams). Not every company can get a seat, and I don’t want to lose ours. If we lost our seat in this group, it would cost substantially more to try to replace it elsewhere (if it’s even possible).

Frankly, they provide a better level of service than we get from other groups, and it’s one of our most valuable resources.

I’d like the authorization to renew, and possibly pre-pay for 2 or 3 years to secure our position (we’ll save $10,000-15,000 if we do that).


[Your Name]
Super-smart Social Executive