Part I: Key Findings
In the US, Facebook is the most widely used social media platform among trade associations, professional societies, charities and other types of organizations. Coming in at second place is Twitter for professional societies and charities, and LinkedIn for trade associations.
Instagram use by US associations grew slightly from 29% to 35% over the past year, with use by charities and professional societies leading the way.
Fewer than half of the US organizations polled have a blog associated with their website. Eighty-one percent have an e-newsletter.
The amount of time each week that US associations spend on social media management has not changed significantly over the past three years. Three-quarters of US associations polled spend 10 hours per week or less on social media activities.
A majority of US organizations say that social media is effective at helping them to achieve a number of goals including: promoting events and educational offerings, member engagement, communicating with members of the media and enabling their organization to take part in the online debate on specific issues. Of the uses tested, associations are least likely to say that social media is effective at helping them to recruit new members.
Paid digital advertising is implemented by 38% of the US associations surveyed in 2016 and is primarily used to promote events and content. Facebook was selected as the most popular advertising platform by 59% of those that use paid digital tactics, followed by 49% for banner ads and 47% for Google search ads.
Eighty-seven percent of US associations that advertise online report they have increased spending on digital ads over the past two years.
Paid online advertising is viewed as effective by the greatest proportion of respondents for growing organizations’ social media following, promoting content or addressing issues.
Mobile apps for trade shows and conferences are used by three in five US organizations. Most of the associations that deploy mobile technology say they are seeing increased usage and plan to expand their spending on mobile.
Only 6% of US associations participating in the survey reported they had used a crowdfunding platform.
Twitter is the most widely used social media platform by associations in Europe (84%), followed by LinkedIn (77%).
Three-quarters (76%) of European associations have an e-newsletter.
Nine in ten associations professional societies in Europe (89%) use paid, internal staff to manage social media and within more than half of those groups the responsibility to do so is placed upon a communications or marketing manager.
Overall, the time European associations spend on social media has increased over the past three years, with 41% of those who know who has responsibility for social media, reporting that the designated person spends from six to twenty hours per week. However, 53% of these associations still spend only five hours or less per week on social media activities.
Event promotion is the number one reason associations in Europe use social media (83%), followed by increasing awareness for their organization (81%).
At least 60% of EU associations say that social media is effective at building awareness, promoting events and other association offerings, engaging with members, influencing opinion leaders or taking part in the online dialogue on specific issues.
Nearly one-third (31%) of EU associations polled say their organization has regional or local branches and the majority of those reported that some or all of these local groups have distinct social media profiles that are managed locally.
Fifty-seven percent of EU associations report they measure the impact of social media efforts, an increase of 4% over the previous year. Engagement from their target audiences, such as content sharing/reposting, likes and replying to content is the most prevalent form of measurement (85%), followed by the number of fans or followers (81%).
Only 4% of EU associations reported they used crowdfunding within the 12-months preceding the survey.
European associations are starting to make use of mobile apps, with 19% reporting they have apps that enable access to their organizations’ member directory, information, website or for event registration. Fifty-two percent of EU associations say they plan to expand their use of mobile technologies in the coming year.