The opportunity to develop a following online has been a part of our business and communications landscape for a decade now, yet many organizations remain shy about using social media as part of a broad strategy of outreach, conversation, and client/donor-development. The time to pay employees and consultants to develop a presence on social networks seems rather too daunting – especially in the current economic climate, as we all hunker down to known knowns. Social networking can seem too much like a known unknown (Oh, Rummy, what you have done to our language and nation…).
So how can be sure we connect with those who are out there waiting to get engaged with our work?
Though no theorem (Pythagorean or otherwise) exists to predict (even demonstrate) the engagement a nonprofit can have through its social networking investments, the social-media platforms all include ways to follow important metrics available to trace the return on investment. Facebook can tell you how many times your organization’s page was ‘Liked’, for example. Twitter tells you how many tweets were retweeted or mentioned or clicked through. YouTube counts how often a video has been watched or shared.
All these counts can give your organization a good sense of what is working (the tweeted invitation to a fundraising party that got retweeted a couple of dozen times) or what is not. Moreover, collating these numbers only takes a couple of minutes in each social-network platform/account. The rich information of ROI comes from drawing out the quality of interaction that each platform/account encourages – admittedly, a tougher exercise.
Avinash Kaushik presents a that can help your organization manage and develop online interaction with its clients, donors, and constituents. We want to introduce them here.
- First, the ‘Conversation Rate’: the number of responses or comments that come from a post or tweet. Pretty straightforward, and a good indication that what you are discussing is catching on with your community. Or, if not, that you tinker with the presentation without losing sight of your mission.
- Next is the ‘Amplification Rate’: How often is a tweet retweeted? Or a post on Facebook or Google+ shared? We would argue this metric can have the most profound long-term ROI, because you spend a few minutes preparing a post for (let’s say) 100 followers. If most of them amplify your message via sharing with their followers, for the same few minutes you have reached thousands!
- Also gratifying is the ‘Applause Rate’: How many ‘Like’ your FB post? How many +1s on Google+? How many people marked your tweet as a ‘Favorite’? All these numbers can be found in your (organization’s) account settings.
- Last, and most important – indeed, the whole point of the exercise – ‘Economic Value’: Avinash defines it as “The Sum of Short and Long Term Revenue and Cost Savings,” and he readily admits that each part is not quantifiable as being generated through social media.
Avinash presents his own test case with his account as tallied by Google Analytics.
His results show how advantageous StumbleUpon is for him, yet how Facebook referrals do not present a meaningful ROI. And from here he can consider his messaging and use on Facebook and/or find ways to match up his use of StumbleUpon with that of Facebook.
Either way, for just a few minutes of setting up his accounts and a few minutes periodically analyzing what the SM platforms are collating anyway, he can refine his strategy in meaningful, concrete, ways. And what is even more striking is that some value is found on every platform for him, so even where numbers are low, his organization benefits.
Over the next few months we will be looking over some specific case studies of nonprofits and a few small businesses and how they developed ever higher returns on investment in their social-media programs. The key word for today, though, is ‘investment.’ As we have argued before, ‘entrance to social media may be free, but influence is not.’
And if your organization has an example it would like to share with your peers, please contact us via this blog! You’ll enjoy some SM goodness via amplifying your story among our readers as well as your own.