Associations’ Social Media Confidence Grows

A new report on social media use among associations shows they have grown increasingly more comfortable in using social media over the last couple of years. Here’s a look at that finding and more.

Associations around the globe are more self-assured than ever when it comes to social media, according to the third “Social Media Impact Study” from association management and communications company Kellen.

“In 2015, organizations are using a greater variety of social media platforms, combining paid, earned, and owned tactics, and utilizing measurement and accountability to identify new opportunities and increase member engagement,” the report noted. “Overall, organizations are becoming not only smarter in their use of social media but braver. They’re sharing more video content, leveraging Twitter to engage with key opinion leaders, experimenting with crowdsourcing, and more.”

The survey of more than 400 associations in the United States and Europe that was conducted in partnership with market research firm ComRes found that, overall, the number of social media platforms associations are using increased in the last year. For example, in the United States:

  • Nearly 30 percent of associations are using Instagram, which is up from 19 percent last year.
  • Almost three-quarters of associations are using YouTube, up from 64 percent in 2014.
  • About a quarter of associations are using Pinterest, up from 21 percent last year.

Facebook and Twitter, meanwhile, are still the most widely used platforms at 93 percent and 91 percent, respectively.

Social media responsibilities are also increasingly falling under the duties of a communications manager, as opposed to a social media manager, which suggests associations are incorporating social into larger communications efforts.

In addition to the survey, the results of two focus groups found that associations are better at and seeing more value in tailoring their approaches to social media by adopting different strategies and content for various channels. “The fact that more associations are utilizing specific channels and media to address different target audiences shows that the use of social media by associations is maturing,” the study noted.

What else?

  • The large majority (94 percent) of associations are using social media to communicate and engage with members, followed by building their organizational profile (89 percent), recruiting new members (59 percent), and information gathering (49 percent). Case in point: Last fall, the Organic Trade Association undertook a 10-day social media festival to help promote its industry and set the record straight about organic products.
  • It’s all about the visuals in Europe, as image- and video-based platforms such as Instagram and YouTube are growing the fastest in terms of their adoption rates. The upcoming Fourth of July holiday offers an opportunity for U.S. associations to capitalize on Instagram.
  • Be careful what you tweet. Twitter was reported as the platform with the largest potential for negative impact, while LinkedIn was seen as having the greatest potential for positive impact. As so many examples have proven, what you say on Twitter, even under a personal account, can reflect poorly on your organization.

How has your social media strategy changed in the last couple of years? Please share in the comments.


Katie Bascuas

By Katie Bascuas

Katie Bascuas is associate editor of Associations Now. MORE

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