Heidi Cohen’s Practical Marketing Advice blog is quickly becoming one of my favorite blogs and her recent post about the Facebook IPO got me thinking – is Facebook’s IPO a good thing or a bad thing for nonprofits and associations?

As I work with associations interested in joining the social market many have asked questions like:

  • Why would this be a good idea for us?
  • Why should we invest?
  • What is our return on investment (ROI)?

Of course there are many answers and most of them start with – “ it depends”. I do know, however, that associations are looking to social spaces as ways to:

  • Become more relevant to their members,
  • Take advantage of new engagement opportunities, and
  • Move towards being more customer-centric.

All of which are important in staying relevant and solvent in a new era of online social participation which, in many ways, has been driven by the success of Facebook and its 850 million users. Still, why is Facebook valuation estimated at $100 billion? I would say it has a great deal to do with the expected $3 billion+ in ad revenue, or its marketing value. How are many associations are looking to pay for all of the resources and investment in social? By driving marketing offers through their gated communities. There is a truth that we cannot escape and that is every investment has to result in concrete value that pays for the investment. Ads pay for social and ads can drive event registration, membership, and certification enrollment marketing. All of which are revenue generators and all are quantitifiable.

There has been a great deal of speculation on how Facebook will justify the $100 billion valuation and Ms. Cohen noted five opportunities the Palo Alto based company can exploit to justify the IPO number. As a result, in Ms Cohen says – “Facebook’s IPO translates into higher marketing expenses.”

So why is all of this a possible blessing in disguise for associations pursuing Social CRM? I’ll answer with a quote from John Souza, Founder of Social Media Marketing University

One of the greatest strengths of Facebook is the ability to target a specific audience and grow your own community of like-minded people around your brand.

If Facebook’s IPO translates into increased marketing costs for vendors and corporations and the association world is primed to be a center of targeted, specific audiences set in a micro-niche of communities that support specific brands, well, what do you think can happen?

As I said before, when social data becomes a new form of currency, associations who implemented Social CRM will already be rich with it and marketing will drive the value of this new currency.