What’s Wrong With This Picture?: Analyzing a Benchmarking Report About Associations and Social Media

A new report detailing how associations use social media was released last week by Marketing General Inc. and the information was beautifully transformed into an infographic by MemberClicks.

The report gives all kinds of great numbers and is a useful source for associations that are wondering how their online communications game matches up with other member organizations.

There are a few conclusions from the report that strike us as, well, interesting. We took a long, hard look at the report’s findings and went a step further, making some discoveries of our own. Here they are, along with some helpful tips and advice for association marketers looking to fine-tune their social media strategy.

Blogs Are Being Under-Utilized

The reports gives a run-down of the social media platforms that are most frequently-used by associations and it’s no surprise that Facebook and Twitter rank as the two most popular sites. Facebook is used by 91% of respondents while Twitter is used by 87%.

However, it was a surprise to find that only 24% of associations maintain a blog. Yes, the Golden Age of blogs ended a while back, but blogging can still be a massively effective way to accomplish the goals associations usually set for themselves on social media. For example, the report also concluded that social media is most often used for event promotion, organizational awareness and association news. Blogs are an amazing way to do all three!

We could write a dozen blog posts about the value of blogging for associations, but we’ll try to condense our blogging love into one last paragraph. Blogging can come in so many different forms, from infographics, to transcribed interviews with members and just a straightforward editorial-type explainer. They can be used to recognize members, highlight certain aspects of your association or its initiatives/events and keep members knowledgeable about the latest developments in their industry. However, the biggest benefit of blogs for associations might just be their ability to drive traffic to the association’s website by sharing the posts on other social media platforms.

Likes, Followers, Fans, Etc Are Over-Glamorized

One of the most interesting pieces of data from the benchmarking report was that a whopping 79% of associations measure social media impact by number of followers, likes, fans, etc. that their accounts accrue.

This is, quite frankly, an unbelievable number and a troubling trend that will only serve to limit the effectiveness of social media for associations. Yes, followers, page likes, etc. are important, but they only skim the surface. Measuring the impact of social media efforts on this metric alone would be like a doctor looking at a patient’s outward appearance for five seconds before declaring them absolutely healthy, only to realize later that the patient has some terrible disease only visible upon further examination. Associations need to look for at least a dozen other metrics before they can get a sense of how well their social media channels are doing and what can be done to improve them.

Again, we can write thousands of words on which of the dozens of metrics are better than analyzing likes, followers, etc. but we’ll list only a few. Demographics are key. You might have 3,000 followers, but if only 100 of them are part of your target audience, then the large following is just a mirage and your message has much less impact. Reach/impressions are also crucial. Again, you may have 3,000 likes, but if no one is looking at your messages, you aren’t really that popular after all. Finally, engagement is a key stat. You don’t just want your members to give an obligatory ‘like’, you want them to share the status update, comment on the post you created and click on the link to your website.

Too Few Associations Are Effectively Posting On Facebook

Most associations are not really using Facebook effectively. Out of the associations that use Facebook, 35% post once a day and 33% post once a week. It is evident that associations have a Goldilocks Problem; one posting frequency is too often and the other is not often enough with too few organizations (31% or less) implementing a just-right option.

Admittedly, this is the most subjective conclusion we drew from the report. Although specific circumstances play a role in how often organizations should post to Facebook (their staffing levels, size of audience, etc.), we feel that there is a general rule-of-thumb that leads to a better return on resources for associations using the platform. For example, posting once a day requires a lot of time and effort to develop content and create a post while Facebook’s algorithms make it less-than-likely that the content will show up on people’s news feeds. Posting once a week or less just means your audience may tempted to relegate you to irrelevancy, meaning your efforts are for naught.

The ideal scenario would be to post to Facebook two to four times a week. This is generally an effective, efficient schedule that keeps your efforts consistent and produces the best quality of content. Because of these factors, this is also the content that has the greatest capacity to draw views and engagement, making the return on resources higher.

One thought on “What’s Wrong With This Picture?: Analyzing a Benchmarking Report About Associations and Social Media

  1. Pingback: Year in Review: Our Top Social Media Posts for Association Professionals in 2015 | Incline Marketing

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