Survey Says: Most Associations Are Using Social Media

HIL ANDERSON, SENIOR EDITOR
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San Francisco, CA – The vast majority of associations have taken the plunge into social media as a means of promoting their live meetings and, for now, are keeping it simple by sticking to the basic features of the major networking sites.

A survey on the adoption of social media and digital tools by associations just released by Champion Exposition Services found that 83% of the organizations that responded were already using one or more digital tools. In addition, 91% planned to use them within the next 12 months.

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are by far the most popular means of keeping association members connected to their various events before, during and after they take place. A full 100% of the respondents use Facebook for pre-show attendee marketing and around half also use Twitter and LinkedIn.

Independent show organizers were not included in the survey because Champion considered associations to already have unique communities and events in place, which affects the way social media strategies are implemented.

Key Survey Findings

  • Facebook is the most popular social media for attendee marketing while LinkedIn is the most popular for reaching exhibitors. Twitter is used by 57% of associations to engage attendees at the event.
  • About 74% of Facebook users post information about their events, but only 48% use its discussion forum feature and 33% use its video applications.
  • 82% of Twitter users tweet to create pre-show buzz, but far fewer use session-specific channels to engage attendees or facilitate questions and answers.
  • The use of social media reduced the use of direct mail by 33% of associations, and 18% saw cost-savings through the reduction of other forms of marketing.
  • A dedicated social media manager has been hired by 18% of associations to handle the digital strategies for their events.

Virtual Events Gaining Acceptance

Along with social media, associations are embracing the idea of virtual events, primarily in addition to their live events. The survey reported 70% of associations either already produce virtual events or are considering the idea. Of those, 74% intended to produce them in addition to their live events, while 57% planned to produce them in conjunction with a live event.

Reach Leslie Brand, vice president of marketing, at (415) 655-2208 or leslie.brand@championexpo.com