Social media has become a key platform for associations to reach their members. But, of course, social platforms are used for different reasons, and some people prefer one to the other. MultiView recently surveyed 98 associations across a variety of industries to determine their social media use and perceived social media channel effectiveness. The goal was to figure out which channels worked best for associations, as well as where associations choose to put their effort and how they’re doing.

One of the biggest findings was the a large gap between utilization of the "Big 3" social media channels — Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn — and the use of Yelp, Google+ and Instagram.

Facebook is the leading platform that associations use to communicate with members across nearly all industries, followed by Twitter and then LinkedIn. Among the other three social media platforms included in the survey, associations are utilizing Google+ over both Instagram and Yelp to communicate with members. Its clear that while these channels offer value for select associations Travel, Hospitality & Event Management appropriately makes good use of Yelp and Instagram they are the less preferential when it comes to reaching engaged members.

Yet even among the Big 3 networks, Twitter's lead over LinkedIn is somewhat startling. LinkedIn surpassed Twitter in the average number of monthly unique users in late 2013. But many associations — especially in the education, travel/hospitality and medical/allied healthcare fields — are utilizing Twitter over LinkedIn.

Taking a deeper dive into those numbers, it appears that associations are publishing content and member information on Twitter, while their members are looking for that information on LinkedIn. That disconnect means that agencies are wasting time pushing a message on a channel where consumers aren’t looking to connect.

Fortunately, it’s easily fixed. Associations need to remember that members are looking for them on the platforms where they network professionally, which makes LinkedIn especially helpful when it comes to reaching these members. To continue to reach industry professionals, associations must spend more energy targeting users on LinkedIn. Associations become industry thought leaders by cultivating talented members and leadership. Knowing which social media channels are most effective by industry helps increase both total reach and engagement.

The full study on associations and social media is available on (PDF).