If you search for information about how to measure returns on investment in social media, you will be quickly reminded about just how new social media is in the business and nonprofit economies. Mathematicians are stilland quality-control gurus want to talk about the that will bring customers and donors a bit later down the road. One of the underlying themes, though, is that no one doubts the value of social media writ large, even as we try to quantify that value and/or make it predictive of our outreach.
Perhaps success can be measured in hard, but not precise, numbers. Moreover, we should also consider social media as a ‘value added’ component to the core vocation of our nonprofit or charity, rather than as a fundamental element. How might we do both?
In the ongoing effort to quantify ROI in social media, Sudha Jamthe of eBay (a company well versed in SM outreach) proposes three standards on his latest posting at Gigaom. They are: Social-Media Revenue Conversion, Facebook Engagement, and Social Customer Support Metrics. Let’s briefly study each.
The first measures how many people follow your organization’s social media to become customers. You follow Google Analytics or other aggregating software to see how many people respond to a specific appeal or posting or tweet (or, indeed, all three). With the appeal going directly to a call to contribute, purchase, or volunteer. How many click through? How many then donate? There is your charity’s ROI.
Facebook engagement seems pretty self-explanatory, and Jamthe admits it’s a tough one to quantify. But how many people interact positively with your brand via your FB site? He encourages especially small businesses and nonprofits not to establish too many Fan Pages, though, as each will require upkeep and each will require monitoring of analytics − things corporations might have the resources to take advantage of.
Finally, Social Customer Support Metrics encourage direct interaction with your community/customers via social media, usually in response to specific issues or concerns. His example is BestBuy’s initiative to offer basic tech support via Direct Messages on Twitter. Admittedly, nonprofits might not immediately see an opening here, but the very act of encouraging such an exchange will surely produce all kinds of good will. Jamthe offers successful examples for each of his three ideas, all of which are worth considering.
Which leads us to a particularly interesting (the author calls it ‘radical’) idea that ROI is probably the wrong way to think about the return nonprofits and small businesses get from social media. “The idea is to go so above and beyond what the customer expects that you earn massive amounts of exposure on the level of Return on Experience (ROE) you receive from shocking your customers with your level of customer service. In fact, I don’t want you to think about it as “customer service” at all, instead think of it as: Customer Enchantment.”
Whatat is that social media is the perfect and cheap way to add something magical and unexpected to your clientele’s experience with your organization. The goal here is thoroughly to surprise a few customers with your outreach as a means to inspire them to pass on great word-of-mouth advertising. “They will happily do this because you made a difference in their lives and did something they would NEVER have expected. You now have a customer and a word-of-mouth generating machine for life.”
The opportunities are there, and social media offers many inexpensive ways to make those magical connections happen. Whether a hard number can be generated to predict what each unit of effort can produce remains to be seen. Given the wonderful intricacies of human communication, perhaps not − but we’ll get no return whatsoever if we don’t reach out.