Kellen recently released their Social Media Impact Study for Associations 2015 – the company’s third annual global report on the use of social media by associations.
They surveyed 439 organizations in the U.S. and Europe and found some interesting changes in the way associations, professional societies, and charitable organizations engage with social media.
Pointing to a growing understanding of the importance of cross-platform content development and sharing among U.S.-based organizations, Instagram saw a significant 29% increase in usage, while Pinterest and YouTube utilization also grew -- 21% to 24% and 64% to 73% respectively. With the exception of LinkedIn, all other major platforms saw growth and it’s clear that blogs have received an incredible amount of attention in the past four years, having not even been on the radar in 2011.
What goes hand-in-hand with this attention to additional platforms and gaining traction in the social media space is the need for additional resources – both human and financial. Investing the time and money for great content and smart amplification and engagement efforts is clearly part of our new reality and the Kellen study demonstrates that point with the vast majority of respondents saying their organization spends 1-10 hours per week and with the function being rarely outsourced. That’s a significant amount of time, particularly for smaller associations.
The alignment between the reasons for using social media and the perceived effectiveness of the channel was clear in the study. There were exceptions, however. One example is around respondent’s expectations for the channel’s ability to help in recruitment efforts. Outcomes haven’t matched hopes in this sphere. That raises the question of whether direct recruiting may not be as successful as organization’s hope, but perhaps the information and engagement the association demonstrates does in fact have impact on a person’s interest in pursuing a career with the organization?
Given the scope of the Kellen study and its respondent group, that question isn’t asked or answered. But the question points to one of the issues we all have: measuring the effectiveness of our efforts.
This continues to be problematic, as most of us remain focused on quantity over quality. To a large degree, that’s not surprising. The number of followers and shares of our content gives us some quick indicators and we’re all pressed for time. But we clearly need to pay more attention to the quality of our audience and to taking the time to really analyzing conversations that are relevant to us.
Another interesting aspect of the Kellen study is the differences between our European counterparts and us. Their overall satisfaction with social media is higher and there are a couple of approaches they have embraced more than us. One example of this is their recognition that an integrated approach to social media leads to more impact within the channel. Too often we silo our efforts, not realizing that the opportunity to tell a richer, more engaging story may come from initiatives that seemingly have little to do with social media. Like the measurement of our social media activities, more time taken to ensure we are maximizing our influence will lead to better outcomes.
For information on the methodology and additional findings from the full study, please go to: http://kellencompany.com/socialmediastudy/