Should you measure the results of your blog and social media? Why?
In the for-profit sector, the answer seems obvious. “Executives and business owners sleep, eat, and breathe ROI,” or Return on Investment, according to Nichole Kelly.
But nonprofit organizations exist for different purposes and calculate value differently. If your small nonprofit is using social media, what is worth measuring, and what is not?
Your Goals Should Set Your Measures
What’s not worth measuring are the “vanity metrics” of followers, likes, and views. Sure, you can keep track of them because it’s so easy to do so. But they tell you nothing. As Julia Campbell points out, nonprofits don’t count their success by how many times they are mentioned.
Donations, email sign ups and event attendance are signs of success because they help you obtain the support you need to do your job. Reputation helps you get things done more easily, at less cost. And advocacy helps you make social change, which may be the reason you exist in the first place.
Julia suggest you take the following steps to measure the real value of your social media:
- Pick a specific project. “The more specific you can be, the easier it will be to measure your efforts.”
- Choose objectives. What do you want to see happen as a result of your blog, post, or tweet?
- Only then, choose your metrics. Make sure you’re measuring what matters to you. Don’t bother measuring anything else.
Your Measures Should Live Within Your Means
Here’s a question I haven’t heard anybody ask: what is the ROI of measurement?
Certainly, you must make some well-planned attempt to figure out what you’re getting from your social media. But let’s be real. For many small nonprofits, it’s a stretch to DO the social media. Carrying out a methodologically sophisticated measurement of results may be a waste of precious time and money.
Consider harvesting some of these low-hanging fruit:
- Listen for signs that people are paying attention to what you post. Are they commenting or sharing them online? Are they mentioning them to you? Is the conversation changing because of your efforts?
- Ask people what they think. When they come to your office or to your events, take a minute to ask. If you can, send a survey or hold a focus group.
- Read studies about what works. Adapt best practices to your own situation.
Your Measures Should Be Humble
Aristotle said it thousands of years ago: “Our measures cannot be more precise than the phenomena we are trying to measure.” Be cautious about reading too much meaning into a small statistical change. You’ll need to follow your social media results for months to be sure that what you’re seeing is real and meaningful.
Einstein said it best: “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” How do you measure the value of building relationships with the next generation? By and large, Millennials use social media all the time, and if you don’t, you will have a hard time reaching them. Even if you can’t measure it, investing in social media now is like planting a tree. It will bear its fruit in the future.