ISMA Calls it Quits

30 04 2010
This morning, members of the International Social Media Association received a surprising email from ISMA co-founder Mari Smith.  In it, she announces that ISMA will be dissolved.  And by dissolved we don't mean gently eroded over time – we mean effective tomorrow!

Though Smith refers to "many reasons" for the decision she remains vague on any one of them in particular.  I'm certain the next few days will such much speculation and that folks will be scrambling for "inside info."

The formation and existence of ISMA has not been without controversy.  Many respected industry professionals have publicly aired their skepticism of the association's certification program and questioned the credibly of the organization's leaders and instructors.  Smith's email. unsurprisingly. mentions none of this.

The fact that Smith takes the time to specifically include a few of her own marketing messages within the email comes off as a little smarmy, giving the impression that Smith is more focused on an uninterrupted revenue stream than on what effect the dissolution of ISMA will have on its members.  Seriously, Mari, was it necessary to remind us that Fast Company once called you "the pied piper of the online world" in this particular email? And the plugs for your own programs, classes and webinars? Perhaps you could have, for the sake of sensitivity, skipped the self-promotion just this once.

In Smith's defense, though, she does address many key issues head-on in the email, detailing how membership refunds will be calculated and distributed, and how webinar content will be archived and saved for future access. 

Still, it all seems very sudden and awkward.

Full text of the email follows.


Dear [ISMA Member]

I have very important information to share with you – this is a wee bit of a challenging message to write, so please bear with me:

After much deliberation, Mark and I have decided to dissolve the International Social Media Association. There are many reasons behind this decision and it certainly wasn't an easy one to make.

Mark and I have thoroughly enjoyed this journey together with you. And, certainly, between the two of us – along with Mark's entire family – much effort has gone into building ISMA to this point.

However, like I say, there are a number of reasons we have chosen to wind up our partnership in ISMA.

In order to communicate this transition in person and answer any questions you may have, I will be LIVE on Ustream today,
Friday, April 30th at 1:00pm PST / 4:00pm EST

Do pop in any time if you can at

I will likely broadcast live for approximately 90 minutes.

The show will be recorded and the replay will be available at the same link if you're unable to join me live.

I also invite you to read this blog post:

Here's what's important to both Mark and I that you know: we absolutely value and treasure your trust in us and in ISMA during
your membership. We are grateful for your support and encouragement, and all your generous feedback on the incredible guest experts we've been able to bring you each week on the member calls.

You're bound to have some questions, [member]. So, let's go over a few important logistical points so you know how we are
taking care of you during this transition:

Pro-rated refunds:

Any member of ISMA who paid in full will receive a pro-rated refund of your membership dues paid. If you paid a year in advance, please be on
the lookout for another message from us with a note of your refunded fees.

Monthly members will receive a pro-rated refund if any dues were paid in advance for May. Otherwise, for all monthly paying members – your
recurring billing has been canceled and no further fees will be processed.

Membership content:

You are more than welcome to go back and listen to and/or download any of the MP3 recordings at this link:

Webinars may be viewed at this link:

We will be taking down the membership site on May 15, 2010. After that date, will direct to

Ongoing support for all ISMA members:

I continue to lead my membership program, Social Marketing Method, where members receive a live monthly webinar with the latest social
media information, tools, tips and updates in the social media industry, plus Q&A.

All sessions are recorded and members may access all replay archives. This program is now in its third year so we have plenty archives. Plus, I will shortly be adding much of the content from the ISMA member calls.

If you're not already a member of SMM and would like to be – stay tuned, I have something special for ISMA members.

LIVE Social Media Event

Also, if you'd like to meet me in San Diego, I will be leading my next live two-day bootcamp, Social Marketing Mastery IMMERSION and would love to see you there if you're able to join me. The dates are June 11-12 and again September 3-4. Also, I will be opening up my Mentor With Mari v2.0 program in the summer.

For all our Certified ISMA grads, be sure to see the separate email I sentyou with a super invitation to join me at a reunion in June!

…in closing:

Let me just say, [member], from my heart to yours – I am deeply grateful for this profound opportunity to go for my dreams and birth
an amazing social media association. I couldn't have done it without the relentless support of Mark Eldridge and his family. And, we couldn't have come this far without you.

Closing a door is never easy. Yet, as you well know, another door always opens. This isn't an ending – it's a beginning.

I look forward to chatting with you later today if you're free to pop in at – 1pm PST / 4pm EST – where I'll be providing additional
information and answering questions about the ISMA transition.

Much love,


P.S. I do hope you'll also join me at my virtual book launch party on Monday,
May 3 to celebrate Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day!

 Mari Smith
Social Media Speaker, Trainer & Consultant
dubbed the "Pied Piper of the Online World" by

Posted via email from NetWeave Threads




3 responses

1 05 2010
Mari Smith


You’re right. To the members and public at large, it was indeed a sudden and shocking announcement.

However, behind the scenes, the decision had been brewing for awhile. It was very important to me that the announcement be made en masse to the members and the public at the exact same time. I didn’t want a bunch of hearsay and speculation and misinterpretation brewing… I wanted one clean announcement and then to face any and all response head on.

I went into detail about many of the reasons for the dissolution in my video broadcast today. Top of the list was sheer resources (time, effort, energy, focus, more team members, more management). Neither Mark nor I were ultimately able to dedicate the vast amount of energy to significantly grow ISMA, given how stretched thin we both are already in our respective other ventures.

Over time, this will all calm down. In the end, I have no regrets. Mark and I delivered tremendous value for the small membership fee we charged.

Best wishes to you.

1 05 2010
Kevin McNulty

I understand and respect your handling of the situation from the standpoint of transparency and directness. The only thing as an ISMA member that left a bad taste in my mouth was the fact that you used even this sad news as a platform to promote yourself and other projects. Your self-promotion can, at times, seem a little relentless. I just think that this announcement was not the right forum. You certainly are popular and successful enough to be able to make at least this announcement without mentioning your other projects or your “pied piper” status.

5 05 2010
Social Media Certifications = No such thing! « Egypt Social Media Cafe

[…] have decided to shut down.  Here’s a blog post which has the text of the email sent to all ISMA members. I watched part of the Ustream chat where […]

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