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One Year After Obama, Most Big DC Orgs Aren't Embracing Social Media Tools

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, October 15 2009

Marc Ross, Christine Stineman, and Chris Lisi of 2ndSix, Tribe Effect and Chris Lisi Communications have just published a very interesting report looking at how 102 big Washington-based trade associations and advocacy groups are--or aren't--making use of an array of 14 core social media tools and platforms. The results shouldn't surprise anyone; it's still pretty obvious that a year after Barack Obama's electoral victory, most inside-the-Beltway still have a very cautious and traditional attitude towards social media.

But the individual breakdown by organization and the thoroughness of the research (which covers a ten week span ending October 2, 2009) ought to serve as a wake-up call for many groups. Because the results are pathetic: "75 of the organizations reviewed [are using] four or fewer online new media tools. The average score of the organizations reviewed was 24%, meaning 76% of the most commonly used social media tools are not being utilized to communicate with members, voters and other constituencies."

Groups were scored on whether they were using the following as part of their web presence: an advocacy center (meaning some kind of grassroots action platform on the website), Facebook, MySpace, blogging, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Digg, StumbleUpon, widgets, email signup form, blog badges, SlideShare and Flickr. Groups weren't rated on how well they were using these tools, just their "presence and employment."

The top ten organizations, by the # of tools used and their overall score were:

Sierra Club: 10/71%
Service Employees International Union: 9/64%
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers: 8/57%
American Wind Energy Institute: 8/57%
Human Rights Campaign: 8/57%
National Electrical Contractors Association: 8/57%
Business Roundtable: 7/50%
League of Conservation Voters: 7/50%
National Beer Wholesalers Association: 7/50%
U.S. Telecom Association: 7/50%

These were the only groups to score 50% or higher, by the way.

The most popular tools were, not surprisingly, email and advocacy centers. The least popular: blog badges and StumbleUpon. (It looks like the Sierra Club edged past the SEIU because it's the only group using StumbleUpon; something tells me the SEIU's web team, led by Tim Tagaris, will rectify that quickly.) And can someone explain what's up with the National Electrical Contractors Association, and why it's more web savvy than the National Rifle Association, the Consumer Electronics Association, the National Association of Manufacturers, and the Communications Workers (to pick randomly from the rest of the list)?

You can read the whole report here:

About the report's authors: Marc Ross is the Principal of 2ndSix, "a firm dedicated to advanced grassroots, communications and marketing which shapes public opinion and engages voters." Christine Stineman is the Founder of Tribe Effect™, "a firm which utilizes applied social media and social action networks to build advocacy and cultural movements that are designed to take action and deliver results." Chris Lisi is the Principal of Chris Lisi Communications, "a firm which creates high-impact, award-winning communications campaigns for corporate and nonprofit clients." Nice work, all. It will be interesting to come back to this data set in a year's time.