May 6, 2013
In the past year none of my board meetings went by without debating if we should be active on social media and for those associations already present on social media channels, the discussion focused on social media guidelines, how to measure the effectiveness, what is the ROI, etc. I am sure many association executives have similar experiences.
In addition more and more associations consulted us on how to deal with social media from a governance and competition law perspective; hence we realized that it is important to take a closer look at these questions and to provide some background and guidance.
This led us to produce the Social Media for Associations- Status Report 2013. In order to better understand how associations in Europe are currently using social media and what the main challenges are, we conducted some detailed research, which followed a two-fold approach: a quantitative analysis which was followed by a qualitative analysis.
The research firm ComRes, on behalf of Kellen Europe, has conducted the online survey amongst association executives in Europe and some key highlights include the following:
- The vast majority of respondents (88%) say that the dedicated person in their organization spends 10 hours or fewer on social media activity each week
- The majority of respondents say that their association has an account with either Twitter (76%), Facebook (59%) or LinkedIn (59%). Only one third (33%) say that their association has a blog
- Associations are most likely to actively use Twitter on a daily basis
- Facebook is most likely to be perceived as the platform with the greatest potential for negative impact, whereas Twitter is considered to have the greatest potential for positive influence
- Just 18% say that they consider their association’s social media activity to be effective
Kellen Europe held two focus groups with 10 Communication Directors from European associations. During these the main findings of the survey were discussed, as well best practices and recommendations exchanged. The key findings of the focus groups combined with our expertise in communications can be summarized as follows:
- It is essential to have clear and tangible objectives that are documented in a social media strategy and implementation plan
- It is advised that association should agree on social media guidelines, which include reference to anti-trust rules
- In terms of which social media channel should be used it is recommended that each association needs to choose which channel works best for its purpose. It is crucial to send clear messages and to be consistent across all channels used. Furthermore constant monitoring and a fast response rate are recommended.
- For the measurement of social media efforts it is suggested to use both the quantitative but also the qualitative approach.
- In order to keep on top of the new trends and technologies it is suggested to use social media (i.e. expert blogs, podcasts, follow social media leaders on twitter), test social media with personal accounts to get acquainted and to hire staff with social media expertise.
The report concludes with 10 steps to successful social media for associations. If you wish to receive a copy of the complete report, click here.
From now on we will conduct this research on a yearly basis to show how associations are adopting social media and to provide trends and insights in this fast moving area.
ComRes interviewed 123 respondents online between 8th and 27th February 2013. All respondents were individuals that said that they know a good deal about or they were aware of their organisation’s social media activities. The sample for this survey was provided by Kellen Europe. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables are available at www.comres.eu.com.