Chambers Turning to Digital Communications

Two digital communication tools saw an increase in utilization compared to last year while every printed form of communication saw a decline, according to the latest W.A.C.E. Opinion Poll. The use of emailed newsletters grew to 97%, an increase of 5 percentage points, while video-taped message use grew 4 percentage points to 44%.

Printed maps saw the steepest decline in use by 10 percentage points to 63%, while printed newspapers/newsletters dropped to 44%, down 8 percentage points from last year.

“As video cameras get more affordable and cell phone cameras get better, more chambers will certainly get more engaged in video production,” said W.A.C.E. Vice President Russell Lahodny. “I also understand the appeal of using more digital forms of communication, but think chambers need to be a bit careful when it comes to ditching their printed publications. It’s easy to get lost in a digital world and I would argue that printed publications are better tools for attracting new members.”

Three quarters of chambers also view their emailed newsletters as their primary communication tool with their members. The next closest platform is social media, with 14% claiming it as their primary tool.

Money Makers

According to the opinion poll, 63% of chambers use their communication tools as revenue generators. Another 22% of chambers generate enough revenue from advertising to break even with production costs. Chambers lean heavily on emailed newsletters for revenue as 62% offer ads in these publications. Sixty-one percent of chambers also sell ads in a printed membership directory. Another 19% of chambers are generating revenue from social media.

The Social Scene

Not surprisingly, each participating chamber in the opinion poll is currently active on Facebook while Twitter remains the second most common platform. Instagram use saw the biggest increase since the last time W.A.C.E. posed the question—up 20 percentage points to 75%. The use of Pinterest has declined to only 20% of chambers using the platform. WhatsApp debuted on the list at 3% of chambers utilizing the platform.

“When it comes to live streaming video content, just over a third of chambers are adding it to their content,” Lahodny said. “This is an interesting tool, as it almost gives your social media followers VIP status as they go behind the scenes or participate in events remotely. Many chambers are using it to live stream events like candidate forums or engage with and promote members.”

Missing Documents

Only 37% of participating chambers reported having an advertising contract with a written content policy included. Additionally, 49% of chambers are operating without strategic communications or marketing plans.

“If you are a chamber that sells advertising but don’t have an advertising contract that allows the chamber the right to review and approve content, I’d head to the W.A.C.E. resource library and find a sample,” Lahodny said. “You should want to make sure an advertiser’s content is appropriate for your audience. Especially as more chambers are dealing with the legalization of marijuana in their states, this has become a bigger issue.”