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Tips for Nonprofits on Measuring Social Media Metrics that Matter

Posted By Josh Hirsch, Wednesday, April 12, 2017

When it comes to establishing a digital strategy, nonprofits know by now that we need to grow our online audiences. A big part of that is connecting to our communities through social networks like Facebook and Twitter. But now that there is endless data we can monitor from all these social channels, is your organization aware of what metrics are important to track?

At NTEN’s 2017 Nonprofit Technology Conference, Debra Askanase, founder and digital engagement strategist at Community Organizer 2.0, held an informative session on advanced social media practices. The session took social media management to the next level, focusing on what metrics nonprofits should be focusing in on to help make decisions around online engagement.

Three important questions that can help guide your organization in what data should be valuable to track:

  • Does it inform our decisions?
  • Does it check our progress?
  • Does it show if we matter?

Reach, for example, is a common metric on social media, specifically on Facebook, but one that’s less important to track and could be almost considered a vanity metric. Can you trust that 800 individuals saw your post? Did each of those users actually view your content, or were they concentrating on something else, perhaps using Facebook Messenger or scrolling down their newsfeed without digesting half of the posts they passed? Usually, if your reach is increasing, it’s mainly because engagement with that post is growing. Therefore engagement is a more significant metric that can help you better understand why you expanded your reach.

There are a plethora of ways to track social media metrics, from Twitter and Facebook Insights, to third-party platforms like Hootsuite and Buffer that can gather all your social data together, to web analytics that can help you parse from which social channels your online users are coming. One useful approach to keeping all the traffic metrics you want to track in one place is to create a Google Analytics dashboard for social media.

The social management tools your organization chooses should let you do each of the following:

  • Post content to multiple social media channels and networks
  • See your scheduled social media at a glance
  • Create links that you can track
  • Find successful content (based on engagement or clicks)
  • See interactions and respond
  • Search for keywords, hashtags and conversations
  • Find your community
  • Coordinate responses from your team
  • Measure impact

Social Campaigns

When planning to launch a social media campaign, an organization should keep a few things in mind. Are you incorporating storytelling elements in your online campaign? Are you connecting emotionally to your audience? Is the campaign connected to a larger cause? All of these questions are very important in establishing a successful campaign.

A cohesive design is also extremely important, ensuring that the online campaign is simple for users to participate in, to share with their networks, and easy to follow is essential. If your audience isn’t aware of the specific ask, your campaign will not succeed.

Here are some reasons online campaigns can and will often fail. Look over this list carefully to ensure your organization is not starting out on the wrong foot:

  • Unrealistic goals
  • Not enough time to develop campaign
  • Not where your people are
  • Not having the right measurement system in place, or not able to measure success
  • Undeveloped social spaces at the start
  • Did not involve engaged social media fans ahead of the campaign

Why and When to Use Advertising

On platforms like Facebook and Twitter, spending a little advertising money here and there on sponsored posts can go a long way. Just spending ten or twenty dollars on a few Facebook ads can be valuable in gaining data and insights on how to further engage with your online community.

Here are a few tools offered in Facebook Advertising worth playing around with:

  • Lookalike Audiences: Creating a lookalike audience is a great way to reach new people who are likely to be interested in your mission and the content you’re offering. Once you select a source audience in Facebook based on a group you have targeted in the past, Facebook will then identify a new group of users that share common interests and behaviors of the source audience provided. You can select the size of your lookalike audience, and it’s suggested you start out small so the target group will reflect your source audience more accurately.
  • Retargeting: No one will engage with your content better than someone who already knows and is connected with your nonprofit. By using Facebook pixels on your website, you can retarget Facebook users that have already interacted with your site to try to hit them up for additional actions, from joining mailing lists to asking for donations. Once you start retargeting through ads, you can even go one step further by including a conversion pixel on certain pages that will allow you to track when a goal is reached based on someone taking action from your ad.

During 17NTC’s Advances Social Media Practices session, Debra shared seven golden rules in social advertising:

  • Know what you want to learn.
  • Identify your audience.
  • Create multiple versions of the same ad.
  • Don’t make the ask too much.
  • Create a custom landing page for ads.
  • Keep the time period brief (test, learn, rerun the ad).
  • Offer value.

So before you decide to jump on the next up-and-coming social network or start a brand new social campaign, make sure you know what your organization should measure and what your SMART goals are. A recent survey in the UK revealed that 35 percent of nonprofits use digital technologies, but don’t have any strategic approach. Are you aware of your strategic approach when it comes to social media?

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Torrey Smith - How Will Rising Leaders Impact Your Organization?

Posted By Josh Hirsch, Wednesday, April 12, 2017
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Pam Heck - Why Are You Participating in Rising Leaders?

Posted By Josh Hirsch, Wednesday, March 29, 2017
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10 Reasons Why the 15% Charity Overhead Myth Prevents Social Change

Posted By Josh Hirsch, Friday, March 24, 2017
Updated: Saturday, March 18, 2017

This past year, Charity Intelligence (CI) defined the Top 10 Impact Charities of 2016. That three of the ten “impact charities” are food banks makes the whole notion of impact charity a national joke, albeit a very bleak one all the same. If there was ever a synonym for Band-Aid in the charitable world, a world constructed of mostly Band-Aids, the food bank would be that synonym. Why attempt meaningful social change when you can hand out dusty cans of pasta sauce for which some solid citizen paid retail price?

But perhaps it was their balance sheets that looked attractive to CI. After all, in 2016, that’s where charities essentially lived—on their balance sheets. Ask anyone on the street the one thing they know about what makes a deserving charity and they are likely to say it’s the one spending less on overhead. “Like, uh, 10 or 15 percent or something like that.”

Left unchallenged, the myth of the 15 percent means Canadian charities will lead the charge on absolutely nothing—not climate change, a cure for cancer or world hunger. And here are the ten reasons why:

  1. It makes board members stupid. The cost of overhead is often the only number many members of Boards of Directors care about when they look at financial reports, ignoring numbers that could give them a sense of how effective the charity is at fulfilling its mission.
  2. It makes charities stupid. Designing financial tools around measuring overhead and administration as priorities means you don’t get the reports you need to actually see how you’re doing in relation to your mission.
  3. It guarantees mismanagement among charities. A 15 percent cap on administration means essential resources for effective management—program evaluation, professional development and evaluation, strategic planning, long-term goal setting—go by the wayside as “administration.”
  4. It impedes progress on issues. When the criterion of a “good” charity is keeping a 15 percent limit on your administration, what happens to your success in making the world a better place?
  5. It keeps the people who work in the program area of the sector among the poorest paid people in the country. Fundraisers aside, the majority of people working in the nonprofit sector, like personal support workers, toil away at hourly rates of between $14 and $18. Not exactly McDonald’s wages, but having someone’s life in your hands is not exactly a Big Mac either.
  6. It makes charities liars. Charities and auditors everywhere bend over backwards to make sure their admin expenses don’t exceed the 15 percent, “hiding” perfectly justifiable expenses (in a sane world) in other line items so a charity doesn’t see what it’s actually spending money on.
  7. It institutionalizes inequity among organizations: $1 million is not always $1 million in the charitable sector. If 80 percent of your organization’s $1 million is from government and 10 percent comes from the United Way, the amount of money you have to raise is $100,000 and the resources you need to do that won’t break the bank. But if you get no government funding and are not a member of a United Way, your $1 million organization is dependent on a large number of small donations and the resources you need to generate that revenue are considerable, thus increasing “overhead.”
  8. It institutionalizes inequity. Period. When an organization has a smaller number of large donors as opposed to a large number of small donors, the process of administrating that organization takes substantially less resources. So if you are friends with big government, big institutions, and big money, your position of “good” charity is all but guaranteed. If not, then your designation as a “bad,” administratively heavy charity is also all but guaranteed.
  9. There is no threshold for risk. Risk-taking and experimentation with the world’s most intransigent problems should involve trying new things. Overhead caps prevent “wasting” money on things that may not work.
  10. It sets up the wrong criteria for project success. Evaluative measures on charity projects are often transactional as opposed to taking a mission-oriented view, i.e., $10,000 = # of workshops delivered, as opposed to $10,000 = movement toward ending hunger.
    What can be done?

    Stop talking about money all the time. You are on the earth to change the world. Talk about that.

    While you are at it, stop pandering to self-styled overseers like Charity Intelligence, who had their charitable status revoked in 2013 for failing to file proper CRA returns. The status later was reinstated when they made the same filings everyone else in the sector has to make.

    But if it were up to me, someone who has a job to do and who sees this asinine scenario play out every day? If it were up to me, you’d print out this column and distribute it at your next board meeting.

    Call it a report from the front line.

Original post can be found here.

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