September 15, 2014
The words “social media” are ever present in today’s world. Every second, two new members join LinkedIn. YouTube currently reaches more US adults (age 18-34) than any cable network. People have become so connected by their mobile devices that it takes the average person only 68 minutes to report a lost phone compared to 26 hours for a lost wallet. What do these astounding statistics and the words “social media” mean for associations?
To answer these questions and others, Kellen, in conjunction with the market research firm, ComRes, surveyed associations in the U.S. and Europe about their social media use. The survey was followed by focus groups in Brussels and New York City. Our findings were published this summer in the Social Media for Associations Status Report 2014.
Kellen’s research showed, not surprisingly, that social media use is on the rise among trade associations, professional societies and other nonprofit organizations in both the U.S. and Europe. Yet while most associations polled struggle with measuring the outcomes and benefits of social media, they still believe their investments in social media are worthwhile.
There were also differences in how associations in the U.S. and Europe approach digital media. For example:
- Several U.S. associations reported jumping into social media without a strategy simply because they felt it necessary to have a presence whereas European associations took a more strategic approach.
- Associations in the U.S. claim to be more mobile-friendly than their European counterparts, with more American organizations reporting responsive design websites, conference apps and publications apps.
- The use of paid digital advertising is growing on both sides of the pond but twice as many of the U.S. associations polled using paid digital media tactics than do those in Europe.
- Interestingly, the focus group discussions revealed that associations in Europe consider social media to be higher risk than their American counterparts, which tend to think that social media has the potential to address a number of challenges associations face from event promotion to member recruitment.
What are the key take-aways for your association? Integrate social media into your overall strategic plan by determining if and how social media can help reach your goals. Next, don’t take a “ready, fire, aim” approach. Develop a strategy and define how your association will measure the progress or success of the initiative. For more insight into social media for associations, you can download the complete, free, 34-page Kellen Social Media for Associations Status Report 2014 at: http://www.kellencompany.com/social_media_report.
Bridget Jackson is the summer intern at the Kellen New York City office. She is a student at SUNY Oswego studying public relations. She is a 2014 recipient of the New York Women in Communications Foundation scholarship.