Social media has become an integral part of many European associations’ communication toolkits. In 2015, we showed you for the first time how industry groups working on European public policy issues were using these channels. We’ve looked at these industry groups again to find out what has changed in the last year.

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The results of our latest #DigitalAssociations report show that indeed, a large number of trade associations are using social media, but not all of them. The percentage of associations active on at least one channel has gone from 58% to 65%. Yet, 35% still don’t use any social media. We believe that associations most likely to use social media already do so. Those who don’t may lack the necessary resources or understanding and in some cases, they deal with very niche topics not likely to gain much traction online.

Twitter: It continues to be the most frequently used social media channel, with an increase of 11%. The platform is easy to use, helps associations stay in the loop and reaches their relevant decision-makers. In terms of popularity, the Justin Biebers and Lady Gagas of the EU association world are likely to gather just over 5,000 followers. The large majority (85%) have fewer than 2,000.

LinkedIn: It is used widely but its full potential has yet to be exploited, both for internal and external communications. The newly simplified company page functionalities may help boost the use and content sharing on this professional platform.

Facebook: It is still a popular choice to promote campaigns; the highest number of likes originates from these rather than associations’ pages. Facebook’s limited growth could change thanks to new functionalities such as Facebook Live.

YouTube: We’ve observed a dramatic increase in the number of videos and views on YouTube, despite a limited growth in the number of new channels. The association with the largest number of views (over a million) has only 74 videos. Quality matters!

In the past couple of years, associations were mainly concerned with being present and joiningin the conversation. The next big challenge for these organisations will be generating high quality content to keep their audiences engaged. We all like big numbers but, how are they really helping associations achieve their policy goals? We foresee more sophisticated ways of measuring social media activities in the future which could paint a more accurate picture of what’s working and what’s not. Let’s keep watching!

Photo by Hector Martinez