Note from Beth: Many nonprofits do not have dedicated teams for social media and social media strategy and implementation is typically only a part of a someone’s job. With limited time, how should that resource be invested to for best results? Often, it can be choice of what channels to go deeper on and what channels to ignore. We know that the road to great results is paved with controlled experimentation, one hypothesis and test at a time. Using the scientific method for experiments can yield insights about how much time and effort – whether our effort has to reach perfection or not. Along with measuring against impact results, it is important to look at how much time has been invested. This informative post is based on a recent webinar presented by the Ad Council provides an overview of how to understand the return on your time investment.
How much effort are your social media channels really worth? By Sacha Evans
Nonprofits nowadays invest serious resources to keep pace with the latest social media trends. But in the race to remain current, we can sometimes forget to take a step back and ask ourselves a few basic questions:
How do we know if all our social media efforts are actually worth the investment?
- Are we actually making a difference?
- What are the right tools to help measure success?
- How can we most efficiently allocate our resources to maximize our social media’s effect?
Earlier this month, the Ad Council hosted a webinar on the topic of social media ROI with three great social media minds to help us navigate these and other thorny online issues.
- David Almacy, Senior Vice President at Edelman
- Larry Swiader, Senior Director of Digital Media at The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy
- Tammi Marcoullier, Lead Strategist at the GSA’s Center for Excellence in Digital Government Engagement & Outreach
And we took away some ideas that we thought many nonprofits and government agencies should consider. Here are our crib notes. Or, if you’d like to watch the entire presentation or download the presentation slides.
- Measure program success, not just analytics. Analytics are just one indicator of success. They must contribute to your final goal. If your goal is to get countries to pledge to wipe out poverty, then your social media clickthroughs are just a means to an end.
- According to David Almacy, the best five tools to measure social media ROI right now are:
- Some of these tools are free, some are paid, and some offer both free and paid versions. Always remember: you get what you pay for.
- With limited time and staff, it’s most important to focus your social media messaging on people who are persuadable or on your side. Don’t waste too much time on people who will never agree with you. Mobilize the people who already do.
- If money is an issue (isn’t it always?), take advantage of free software trials. Not only do they allow you to really size up competitors; they also tell you how you’d really use a tool on a daily basis.
- Avoid long contracts with social media-related software providers. The landscape is changing so quickly that there’s no guarantee a social measurement tool will remain relevant.
- If you need a specific metric for your reports, ask outside software providers to build a tool that can give it to you. Often developers look to their customers for software ideas. And if you asked for something smart, it could help attract other customers.
- The goal of all your social media impressions should be to create people who are in constant contact with you. As a result, Bedsider’s social media funnel path looks like this: Impressions > Engagement > Acquisitions.
- If you want to reach a broader social media audience, post about topics outside of your specific issue area. Look to attract crossover audiences who don’t only follow other organizations like you. Bedsider’s audience, for example, also follows Jimmy Fallon and Katy Perry, not only other groups that promote birth control.
- Your audience isn’t only using social media during the 9am – 5pm work day. And you shouldn’t be either. Twitter engagement rates for brands are actually higher on the weekend.
- Look for traffic from unexpected sources. According to this Mashable study, Pinterest actually drives more traffic to publishers than Twitter, LinkedIn and Reddit combined. Try out different networks, and then decide which one will do the most for you.
- If you purchase a paid Twitter account to publish promoted tweets, it will also provide enhanced analytics for regular posts. Kill both birds with one stone.
- Social media provides more than numbers; at its heart, it provides great stories. A social media post can affirm that other parts of your organization are working – that people are seeing your advertisements or internalizing your mission. Don’t only look at social media analytics. Read your social media stories. Then share them with your organization’s leadership.
- Sometimes there’s no getting around a staff increase: since 2010, the U.S. Federal Government has made digital communications a priority. Currently, there are more than 500 social media and IT professionals in the U.S. Government.
- Because social media requires an immediate response, a common script will pay great dividends.
- In a crisis, the most efficient thing you can train your community managers to do is to be active and be human. People want to know that you are listening.
- Don’t consider crowdsourcing a mere novelty. Use it to solve specific problems. (The U.S. Government is using this tactic through its website Challenge.gov).
- Share what you’ve learned. The U.S. Government does this through the following research-sharing websites: HowTo.gov/social-media Blog.HowTo.gov HowTo.gov/training
Sacha Evans is currently serves as a Media Relations Manager at the Ad Council. Previously she worked in communications at Orchestra of St. Luke’s, StoryCorps, NPR, and Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy.