With the inaugaration of President Barack Obama and the convening of the U.S. Congress, the business of governing truly begins in earnest. With the business of governing, comes the creation and passage of legislation and policies that affect important constituency groups. Some of the most powerful constituency groups are those that represent specific industries that employ hundreds of thousands of Americans. The “trades” that these associations represent vary from sectors such as high technology to small business to health care and energy.
With the widespread adoption of social media by elected officials, the media and the public; social media has become a critical part of the advocacy toolkit for trade associations. The recent legislative battle over the SOPA bill between the Motion Picture Association of America and the technology industry highlighted the evolution of tactics in advocating for or against legislation. The Motion Picture Association of America pursued traditional lobbying tactics, while the technology industry mobilized their grassroots supporters via social media and the internet. The technology industry’s victory over the Motion Picture Association of America last year sent shock waves through the K street community that they must evolve and change.
How have they done? Arc 3 looks at the top ten most social media savvy trade associations at the start of 2013. The list was compiled analyzing the Klout scores and number of Twitter and Facebook followers for the largest and most powerful trade associations in the country.
1. National Federation of Independent Business (Klout score 81) - Led by Dan Danner, this organization promotes fewer regulations and lower taxes. Despite seeing its challenge to the Democratic healthcare law fall short, the NFIB is one of the most social media savvy trade associations in the country with over 34K followers on Twitter and 171K likes on Facebook.
2. American Bankers Association (Klout score 81) – Led by Frank Keating, the former governor of Oklahoma, the ABA has evolved its communication strategies and embraced social media during a time of upheaval for their industry. The ABA has over 13K followers on Twitter and 1K likes on Facebook. The ABA’s high Klout score is attributed to it constant updates, as its Twitter account has over 10K Tweets.
3. Business Roundtable (Klout score 79) – Led by John Engler, a former Michigan governor, the corporate leaders of the Roundtable support a lower corporate tax rate and more trade deals. The Business Roundtable has over 12K Twitter followers and 13K likes on Facebook and a steady stream of tweets and posts to inform the media and its members.
4. U.S. Chamber of Commerce (Klout score 69) – Tom Donohue leads a powerful business advocacy group which donates millions of dollars to business-friendly candidates every election cycle. The Chamber is also a digital powerhouse with over 312K likes on Facebook and over 97K followers on Twitter.
5. National Retail Federation (Klout score 67) - NRF’s communications efforts are led by Bill Thorne, a former senior director for advocacy and outreach at the Walmart Corporation. Thorne has built a strong digital effort for the association as it pursues the passage of a national online sales tax. The association’s over 16K followers on Twitter and over 4K likes on Facebook are competitive with its online sales tax opponents in the technology industry.
6. National Restaurant Association (Klout Score 66)- Led by Dawn Sweeney, the restaurant trade group has expanded its policy and digital efforts. With over 11K followers on Twitter and 13K likes on Facebook it is clear that the association has picked up some social media tips from its member restaurants who have long been in the business of creating brand evangelists.
7. National Association of Realtors (Klout Score 66) - Led by longtime NAR veteran Dale Stinton, this association has battled a brutal housing market and a Congress considering housing finance reform. The association has solid digital resources to back its legislative efforts with 62K followers on Twitter and 109K likes on Facebook.
8. American Medical Association (Klout Score 65) – Led by Dr. James Madara, the AMA has gained bi-partisan support and is working to replace a Medicare payment formula that threatens doctors with drastic cuts. To build support for its efforts the association has a strong social media presence with over 269K followers on Twitter and 26K likes on Facebook.
9. American Wind Energy Association (Klout Score 63) - Led by Rob Gramlich, this association recently saw Congress extend an industry tax incentive that has led to explosive growth in wind power. AWEA has the wind at its back with a social media presence that has over 43K likes on Facebook and over 22K followers on Twitter.
10. National Association of Home Builders (Klout Score 63) - Led by Jerry Howard, this association’s primary goal is to defend the mortgage interest deduction amidst members of Congress who may see its elimination as a potential way to alleviate budget deficits. NAHB has a solid social media presence with over 16K followers on Twitter and over 28K likes on Facebook.
At the start of 2013, these are the top ten most social media savvy U.S. trade associations. The list is dominated by traditional industry associations that have strengthened their social media presence for what will be a very tough year in the Congress as the budget deficit looms over all discussions. Difficult times will require associations to be innovative in their mobilization and education of members about important and timely legislation and policies that could alter the course of the industries that they represent.