Note from Beth: This past year has been a deep exploration into how nonprofits can use measurement and reflection to improve their practices as a networked nonprofit and using social media. As part of my work at the Packard Foundation, I designed and facilitated several peer learning groups and exchanges. It was a fantastic laboratory to explore the power of peer learning and the right mix. One of the topics that constantly comes up is, “How do we stay on top of all this learning about technology when we don’t have time?” I’ve been experimenting on how to do this with my peers so I can better understand how to design for this experience. One of the participants, Meg Biallas, does this through her blog – using it to synthesize and share lessons learned. She has also found that moderating panel discussions with peers useful for learning as well. She agreed to write this post about what she learned from a panel presentation she and other nonprofit social media professionals gave at the Social Media Week in DC – several of whom have presented or participated at one of the Packard Foundation OE Program Peer Learning Exchanges I facilitated.
Reporting Social To Stakeholders: Guest Post by Meg Biallis
This week I moderated a panel of nonprofit professionals as part of Social Media Week DC. But it wasn’t just another “Facebook 101” or a chance to pontificate about Pinterest. These professionals came to talk about standardizing the reporting process – about integrating social media results into the traditional reporting procedure.
Here are the key takeaways from a discussion with Danielle Brigida (National Wildlife Federation), Carie Lewis (The Humane Society of the United States), Alison Carlman (Global Giving) and Alison McQuade (EMILY’s List).
Influence the decision makers.
Help leadership understand the impact of social media by turning them into users. This allows them to see, first-hand, the impact of social media communication.
Carie Lewis explained that the Humane Society worked often and early to build buy-in: “We wanted the upper management to speak the social language, we wanted to get them online. Sometimes our president tweets more than the organization!”
How does the leadership views social media? Does it have a history of trying new things? Carlman explained that Global Giving’s leadership was already web-savvy, so implementing social media was a no-brainer However, Carlman needed to do more convincing with organizations in previous roles.
Find someone who will go to bat for you. Lewis explained that one of the Humane Society’s board members used to work at AOL. “His digital background is great, and he’s really become like a mentor to me.”
Metrics should match the mission and goals.
Your metrics depend on your ultimate goal. For example, the Humane Society uses social media primarily for customer service, while Global Giving uses it to drive fundraising. Quantify what you’re looking for. Do you want 2,000 signatures? Do you need to raise $50,000 for a pledge drive? If that’s your goal, then demonstrate in your reporting how Facebook helped you achieve it.
Both Lewis and McQuade pointed out that they don’t measure direct number of likes, though sometimes stakeholders like to hear about impressive milestones (“We just reached 10,000 fans!”). McQuade encouraged other nonprofits to take some time to understand EdgeRank to find out who’s actually seeing your content. That can help inform the content you post going forward. (This process is also called “After Action Reviews”).
Report regularly and you will be rewarded.
Brigida said there are two benefits of reporting metrics. First, by showing growth, you can advocate for more resources.
The Humane Society actually used Facebook to raise money for an additional staffperson – and they got one!
But secondly, reporting helps you learn how to do your job better. “There’s a lot to learn from your online community,” said Carlman. “We capture important conversations, and figure out how we can better communicate with our donors.”
Learning was key for Brigida at NWF. “We started examining where our mobile traffic was coming from, and found that a good amount was going to the kids section of our site. That gave us the idea to create youth-specific iPad apps.”
Final thoughts from the panelists: Social CRM, gatekeepers, and learning in public.
Brigida: “Social CRM is the future. I would be happy if we could connect publicly available data with our internal membership databases.”
Lewis: “Social media is everyone’s job, but you need one person to be the gatekeeper. We do quarterly privacy trainings for our more than 100 administrators who manage our affiliated social media accounts.”
McQuade: “It’s possible there may be no way to standardize these processes. Sometimes it feels like there is no standardization in nonprofits at all. But the important thing is to be responsive, to be available. That’s just part of having good donor relations.”
Carlman: “Report on learning. Be okay with telling stories of failure. When testing out new social platforms, take some time to experiment and do it well before giving up on it.“
What’s your first step to standardizing social media? What’s one thing you can do help your management and stakeholders begin to embrace social?
Meg Biallas is a Communications Associate with Fight Crime: Invest in Kids in Washington, D.C. She blogs about social media on herpersonal blog, Meg Goes To Washington. ). This post was originally published here.