My Big Fat Problem With Social Media Measurement

My Big Fat Problem With Social Media Measurement

Julia Claire Campbell Social Media, Strategy 31 Comments

My Big Fat Problem With Social Media Measurement

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Don’t get me wrong.

I think it’s fantastic when nonprofits want to measure their social media efforts.

In fact, it’s vital – consistent measurement is something I strongly recommend (a.k.a. require) of all my clients.

Without measurement and analysis:

How will you know what to improve upon?

If you don’t know where you want to go, how will you know when you get there?

How will you know that you have taken the right road?

How will you know how to get there again, and again?

This brings me to my big, fat problem with the majority of social media measurement tools, spreadsheets and efforts.

They only measure the numbers of followers, likes, views – also called vanity metrics. Vanity metrics may make you feel good –“Look, 10 new Twitter followers this week!” – but the numbers alone are not telling the story.

For example, I have a client who is laser focused on Twitter followers, Facebook Likes and YouTube views. Sure, those items do need to be steadily increasing over time.

But, they are not the most important statistics. Ask yourself – Is your website traffic increasing? Are you receiving more inquiries for donations? Are your events well-attended?

For this client, it turns out that the numbers for the significant benchmarks of nonprofit success – online donations, email sign ups and event attendance – were all increasing month to month. Isn’t that what is really important?

So, what is the goal of your social media efforts? If you said “raise awareness”, I ask you to dig deeper.

WHY do you want to raise awareness? Why is that important to your organization? What will increased awareness of your organization and your cause do for you?

Raised awareness does not translate into action – necessarily. So how to measure the real value?

1)     Pick a specific project – i.e. a Twitter campaign for an upcoming event. The more specific you can be, the easier it will be to measure your efforts.

2)     Choose objectives for the Twitter campaign. This is what you want to see happen as a result of increasing your activity and time on Twitter.

Examples include:

  • Increased repute and awareness in the community of the event.
  • Confident and empowered staff and volunteers who are excited to use Twitter.
  • Improved ability to communicate and cultivate relationships with media outlets.
  • Deepened relationships and increased engagement with online communities, donors and volunteers.
  • Increased engagement (favorites, retweets, mentions) on Twitter.
  • Increased revenue from the event.
  • Exposure to a new, younger cadre of donors and volunteers to cultivate and bring into the fold.

3)     Then choose your metrics. How will you know that you achieved your objectives? The measures of success for the Twitter campaign could include:

  • Staff (and volunteers)with increased skills and confidence in marketing and social media tools (specifically Twitter) as demonstrated by surveys and informal polls.
  • Increased interest in the event as demonstrated by retweets, favorites and mentions on Twitter and increased sign-ups right up to the event date.

4)     Always remember the value of achieving success. The value does not lie simply in increasing the number of Twitter followers. Dig deeper.

The value of achieving success with the Twitter campaign could (and should) translate to:

  • Increased donations and revenue.
  • New donor prospects.
  • Word-of-mouth goodwill for the organization.
  • Ability to hire and train more staff.
  • Ability to serve more clients.
  • Prestige as a reputable and successful nonprofit organization.
  • Greatly enhanced media and community relationships.
  • Increased positive coverage in local media.
  • Increased community partnerships.

Vanity metrics that don’t mean anything will not get your nonprofit anywhere. Facebook Likes are nice, but email subscribers and online donors are even better!

Keep your eye on the big picture and always dig deeper – that will help you find focus on those days when it seems you are spinning your wheels.

Need help with your social media and online marketing efforts? Email me

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Comments 31

  1. Dennis Fischman

    I completely agree–and I’ll go one step further. You may never know for sure how much the social media contributed to your success. For small nonprofits, making the effort to measure it accurately may be a poor use of resources. In that case, you need to use the numbers you have, plus the feedback you get, plus your best judgment.

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