As nonprofits become more sophisticated in their use of social media, they are increasingly asking how they can measure their results. It’s easy to assess the return on a direct-mail appeal or an e-mail campaign. It’s much more difficult to calculate whether a Facebook posting or a tweet made a difference.
Danielle Brigida, manager of social media at the National Wildlife Federation, offers the following advice.
Like a lot of nonprofits, we have several departments and programs. And they’re all using social media in very different ways—with very different goals.
One campaign, for instance, is focused on restoring the bison population in the Great Plains. Another group is attempting to work with children by connecting them with Ranger Rick.
So how do we measure whether what they’re doing is effective?
We’ve developed internal tools that provide key members of our staff with regular reports. And we try to make these tools fun.
The reports not only improve internal communications but also bring together knowledge gathered from the front lines of social media to help our development of products and programs. Our reports are far from perfect, but they offer a good foundation for how organizations can measure the value of their social-media efforts.
Here are three ways we’re approaching social-media reporting:
Quarterly Social Media Report
Who sees it: All staff members
Purpose: To showcase data and case studies about what we’ve learned from our social-media efforts throughout the organization.
What we measure: The first part of the report covers the growth in our reach through social media. Here we list the percentage growth in the number of fans and followers in each network and each campaign.
The next section covers how people shared our content and drove the most traffic to our Web site. Staff members also share special successes: volunteers recruited, customer-service wins, donations, or any other traceable learning experience.
We also look at how other nonprofits are using social media, offer social-media tips, and spotlight additional social-media praise or mentions our organization has received during the quarter. We use this report to give people who may not be working with these tools a broad overview of how the organization is experimenting.
Tracking tools we use: Small Act’s Thrive, Sprout Social, Topsy, Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, RSS feeds
Monthly Blog Report
Who sees it: Bloggers and National Wildlife Federation staff members
Purpose: To motivate and reward our bloggers by highlighting which blog posts were most successful in calling attention to our organization.
What we measure: Posts that have received the most page views and visits offer insight into how social media promote the content. We found that by slowly building the report and adding “actions” taken as a result of our findings, we could also move beyond simple traffic measures. Now we include information about how our supporters are spreading our message, advocating on our behalf, or donating to the organization. Tracking Tools: Omniture, WordPress Analytics
Daily or Weekly Stat Observations
Who sees it: Staff social-media administrators and users
Purpose: To encourage those who use social media in our organization to think about whether they are being successful in sharing content and providing updates to our supporters.
What we measure: We track information that is available through major social-media networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Tracking tools: Bitly, Facebook Insights