A few days ago, my colleague Suzanne Walsh, shared a tweet with me that pointed to a blog post titled, “Social Media Is Not About Engagement?” from Bundlepost (a social media productivity tool). I recently heard this same idea from colleague Carie Lewis during our Measurement Workshop at SXSW. But KD Paine has been saying this for years, and illustrating the ladder of engagement in terms of relationships using the slide above. Put another way, “The world’s greatest love letter is useless if it doesn’t achieve the desired effect. In other words, if it doesn’t get you a date, or dinner, or sex or marriage – whatever your goal is, it really doesn’t matter how well written it is.”
It doesn’t mean that engagement on social media is useless and not worth the time. It means that you need to engage with a purpose or articulated goal. But that’s only half of it as KD Paine and I write in our book, “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit.” You have to measure conversions from social media – from engagement to whatever action or goal you want people to take.
As part of my work at the Packard Foundation, I’m facilitating a peer learning program for their grantees where everyone is doing an action learning project using framework in the book developed by KD Paine, the 7 Steps of Measurement. For yesterday’s call, I invited Bob Filbin who is the data scientist from DoSomething.Org to share some simple recipes about how to measure conversion after reading his excellent post “Know the Difference Between Metrics and Data” where he discusses a DoSomething video that got 1.5 million views on YouTube, but failed to convert anyone to donate used sports equipment.
What is a conversion? It occurs when a user takes a valuable action, such as signing up for a campaign, downloading a report, or donating. Essentially any action related to your goals. To measure conversion using your analytics programs, it generally requires submitting an online form. He used the example of DoSomething’s featured campaign, “Don’t Be A Sucker,” a campaign to encourage teens to save electricity by turning off their devices. The landing page is here and the conversion happens when someone comes to the DoSomething’s home page and clicks on the sign up button and opts in to give the organization their contact email or cell phone.
Bob points out that conversion is about changing behavior. “You won’t know it’s changed unless you can measure it.” He uses a simple framework from Stanford professor BJ Fogg called “Trigger, Ability, Motivation” to design how they measure it. He used the analogy of a cell phone. You have to hear it ring. Second you need the ability to pick it up – if you are in the shower, you can’t answer it. And finally, if you see that call is from your Aunt Mary and don’t want to talk to her, you won’t pick it up.
He shared that at DoSomething the reason why they measure conversion, especially from social media platforms, is to determine resource allocation. They measure conversions in Google Analytics using three techniques: traffic sources, advanced segments, and custom link tracking. He gave us examples of how to do this on Google Analytics using DoSomething’s most recent campaign.
- How much web traffic do we get from Social Media?
- What is the quality of that traffic?
- What are our best ads on Facebook?
- Should we invest in many social media platforms, or concentrate on Facebook?
- Next week, for my org…How much time should I spend on Facebook?
- How should I spend that time?
He pointed out the difference between quantity of traffic and quality of traffic. That is you can look at total unique visitors by source, but if you cross-tab it by bounce rate (percentage of people who looked at one page and didn’t go to others on your site), you can determine which sources are giving you a better quality of traffic. Here’s the basic how-to for generating traffic reports and some beginner advice from Google Analytics Evangelist.
This feature lets you isolate and analyze specific traffic from specific sources, for example people who engaged with you on Facebook. The questions are below:
- Which Social Media source leads to the most conversions?
- Which Social Media source sends the highest quality visitors?
The how to is here.
Custom Link Tracking
This is a special tracking code on a link on your web site. It can help you answer the following questions:
- Which Facebook post led to the most conversions? Which ad?
- Should we say, “learn more” or “take action”?
Google has a tool that lets you create custom tracking links, although some paid tools integrate with google analytics so you don’t have to manually create a tracking code link to insert a tweet. Bob emphasized that it is important to think through your naming scheme for the links to make analysis easier. Here’s an excellent step-by-step tutorial on how to use these features from Social Media Examiner.
A curated list of how to measure conversion links from this post is here.
Are you using engagement on social media channels with a purpose? Are you measuring conversion? How and what have you learned?