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The Association TRENDS Association Social Media Report 2013 is the second report after last year's groundbreaking effort to explore the social media adoption and activity levels of associations. TRENDS identified a representative sample of more than 345 associations across five platforms: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and – new this year – LinkedIn and Pinterest. Findings are broken down by association staff size, sector and member type, offering benchmarks for readers to compare their social media use with competing and peer organizations.
Overall adoption levels: Twitter fastest growing
Out of 347 associations, 95 percent use some form of social media as part of their communication efforts.
Facebook (85 percent) and LinkedIn (86 percent) are the most popular social media sites for associations. Twitter falls to third, with 83 percent of associations using the social media platform. Twitter adoption levels increased by about 6 percent over the past year, making it the fastest growing social media site for associations. Facebook is the slowest growing, with only a 2 percent increase in adoption levels. If Twitter and Facebook adoption levels continue to increase at these rates, Twitter's popularity will surpass Facebook over the course of the next year.
Top performers: American Diabetes Association tops again
As with last year, National Basketball Association and National Hockey League overwhelmingly are active, and thus aren't included in any of the rankings or averages. Therefore, the following are identified as the top-10 associations overall. Only three remained in the top 10 from last year (2012 ranking in parentheses):
1. American Diabetes Association (1)
2. NYSE Euronext
3. U.S. Chamber (4)
4. American Medical Association
5. American Institute of Architects
6. Society for Human Resource Management
7. American Quarter Horse Association (10)
8. CFA Institute
9. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)
10. National Association of Home Builders.
The top performers in each of the social media outlets are:
• Facebook – Professional Association of Diving Instructors
• Twitter – Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
• YouTube – Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
• LinkedIn – Society for Human Resource Management
• Pinterest – American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
This report is primarily a benchmarking survey, but has identified a number of best practices. Two are included here, but more are found in the report:
Meet your membership where they already are in the social media space, but don't assume you know where your members are. Use a survey to ask your members how comfortable they are with the leading social media channels so you know where to focus your efforts.
Know the strengths of each channel and how they can be used to reach your members. Facebook is good for developing a general engagement with your members. Twitter can help you spread news and updates about your association and industry quickly and concisely. Pinterest and YouTube are best for sharing visual content. LinkedIn works well for generating discussions surrounding your members' careers or industry. Consider your objectives when deciding which channels to use.
A representative sample of more than 345 associations was selected from the 17,000+ associations included on AssociationExecs.com. [Editor's note: AssociationExecs.com and Association TRENDS are divisions of Columbia Books Inc.] Only one account per platform was considered for each association.
The survey measures association social media activity levels by compiling publicly available information from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and LinkedIn. This includes the following metrics:
Facebook: Likes, Talking About, Were Here
Twitter: Tweets, Following, Followers, Listed
YouTube: Channel Views, Upload Views, Subscribers
Pinterest: Pins, Likes, Followers, Repins
LinkedIn: Company Followers, Group Members, Discussions, Comments.
Associations are ranked using the Association TRENDS Social Media Rank, a logarithm that weighs the above metrics according to the platform's popularity and the type of interaction the metric represents. Complete details on methodology are found in the report.