Key Findings Include: Global Increase of Paid Digital Channels; U.S. Focus on Facebook, EU on Twitter; U.S. Associations Embrace Mobile Apps
NEW YORK, NY (November 14, 2016) — The 2016 Kellen Global Social Media Impact Study in cooperation with ComRes, an international research consultancy, found that while both U.S. and European associations are increasing their use of digital media, they are doing so in different ways. . European associations continue to engage more with journalists and key opinion formers via social media than do U.S. associations. However, American organizations are deploying mobile technology more than their EU counterparts. While organizations around the globe are expanding their use of social media as a means to promote events and content, heighten profiles and drive website traffic, there’s increased use of paid digital advertising to achieve those objectives.
The Social Media Impact Study for Associations 2016 marks the fourth consecutive year Kellen and ComRes have surveyed U.S. and EU trade associations, professional societies and other nonprofit organizations about social media use. The 2016 report includes the results of an online survey of 421 organizations in the U.S. and Europe; qualitative findings gleaned through focus groups in Brussels and Washington, DC; an update on trends in China’s social media use; Digital Intelligence Q&A; case studies from around the world, and insights into the impact and future of social media.
Key Findings in Europe and the U.S.
The 2016 survey results indicate that the use of paid digital advertising, such as Google ads, Facebook ads and promoted posts on Twitter, by those organizations surveyed is expanding in Europe and the U.S., with more than 40% of U.S. associations investing in digital advertising and over one-quarter of EU associations doing so. Eighty-seven percent (87%) of U.S. associations surveyed said they have increased their spending on digital media during the past two years, along with a majority of those in Europe. The most common objectives that organizations in both the U.S. and EU have for using paid digital ads are to promote content and events as well as to attract website visitors.
With the steady increase in digital advertising, it is not surprising that both U.S. and EU associations noted a decreased spending on traditional print and broadcast media over the past year (40% of U.S. associations reported decreased spending and roughly half of EU organizations). However, for both U.S. and EU groups, e-newsletters remain a strong tactic to reach members; 81% of U.S. organizations and 75% of EU associations report saying they use these.
“The data we collected confirms that the associations are monitoring, measuring outcomes and honing in on the digital strategies and tactics that best help them reach their objectives. While we found that organizations are making larger investments in paid digital tactics, the vast majority of associations on both sides of the pond are not investing significantly more time on social media, with the vast majority spending 10 hours or less each week on social media management,” said Peter Rush, Chairman and CEO of Kellen.
Additional key findings from Kellen’s 2016 Social Media Impact Study for Associations:
- S. organizations use Facebook as their primary social media platform with 94% usage, followed by Twitter (90%) and LinkedIn (87%). However, EU organizations turn to Twitter first with 84% usage, followed by LinkedIn at 77%. For EU organizations, Facebook ranked lowest; only 56% of EU organizations use it.
- Event promotion is the most frequently cited use for social media among associations in both the EU and U.S. And nearly half (46%) of U.S. associations say that social media is effective for member recruitment. Seventy-two percent of U.S. organizations have adapted mobile apps in some way, while only 40% of the EU organizations report doing so. The most prevalent use for a mobile app is on-the-go conference or event information or registration for attendees. 60% of U.S. associations use mobile apps for conferences or trades shows, compared to only 17% of EU organizations.
- European associations, many of which are based in Brussels, are more likely than their American counterparts to use social media to communicate with key opinion formers and with members of the media. The percentage of EU associations, using social media to influence opinion formers has grown from 49% in 2014 to 61% in 2016. In the U.S., use of social media to communicate with opinion formers has increased only five percent (5%) during the same period.
- Approximately half of U.S. and EU organizations measure the effectiveness of their social media efforts. However, the manner in which that analysis is taking place has evolved from not only counting fans and followers, but taking a keen look at engagement numbers.
“Through digital analysis, association leaders can learn a tremendous amount about online behavior, which can help organizations to significantly improve the effectiveness of their online efforts and overall objectives. It is of utmost importance to be tracking your digital efforts against the established goals,” said Olya Ryabinina, Director of Digital Strategy for Kellen.
China: The WeChat Revolution
With many popular social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, not available in China, the social media landscape in the region has been distinctly different than the rest of the world by the proliferation of the app WeChat. In China, WeChat has taken on the functions of multiple social media platforms and mobile apps enjoyed in other parts of the world, such as PayPal and Uber, and penetrated the daily lives of mobile device users across China. Associations seeking to reach stakeholders via online channels in China can create an official WeChat page for the organization to promote events, resources, news or connect with current or prospective members. Familiarizing the association’s social media team with the diverse functionalities and audience interaction tools of Chinese social media platforms and with the local language will aid greatly in online engagement, according to Steven Basart, Manager China for Kellen.
Social Media Impact Study for Associations 2016 Available Online
The 35-page Kellen Social Media Impact Study for Associations 2016 is available as a free, downloadable PDF here. ComRes polled a total of 421 trade associations, professional societies and charitable organizations in the U.S. and Europe between April 12, 2016 and May 3, 2016. 254 were in the U.S. and 167 in Europe. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Data tables for the survey can be found at www.comres.co.uk.
Kellen is a global association management and communications company serving more than 125 trade associations, professional societies and charitable organizations representing over 10,000 companies and 100,000 professionals worldwide. We specialize in management, communications, digital strategy, regulatory affairs, meetings and events, and consulting across a diverse range of industries. Founded in 1964 and charter-accredited through the AMC Institute, Kellen has offices in Atlanta, Beijing, Brussels, Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, New York City and Washington, D.C. For more information visit: www.kellencompany.com.
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Alexandra Smith Ozerkis
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