Measuring the Return from of Social Media.
|A few years ago, when web tools were just beginning to allow the interactive environments we're seeing everywhere today, I wrote a piece called Bread and Butter 2.0. In it I juxtaposed the excitement technologists were trying to communicate about web 2.0 features with the more prosaic "bread and butter" technology issues that non-profits were struggling with. But times have changed - and more organizations are learning that social media can help deliver those bread and butter goals of building and maintaining a base of donors, volunteers, and supporters. And importantly, the return on investment in these technologies can be measured in terms of donations, page views, and names who receive your updates.|
For example, the ASAE (American Society of Association Executives) just ran an article called Expand your Audience through Social Media. Largely an interview with Jonathon Colman of The Nature Conservancy, the article focuses on how building trust and presence in online communities can build actual, countable page views on your website: Jonathon describes a campaign where his social networking promotion of a website article earned it 16 thousand views in a single day. Seems pretty bread and butter to me.
Fundraisers are starting to pay attention to social media as well. An article in Fundraising Success describes the efforts of numerous organizations in integrating special media into their marketing and development plan. Life Rolls On Foundation is an L.A. based charity that serves people with spinal chord injuries. Their efforts focused around starting a MySpace page and delivering news, updates, donation requests, and invitations to events to their MySpace community. By now, that community totals over 11,000 friends! This is a list few development directors would turn up their noses at.
Involvement in these new media should not be seen as a hazy excursion into a new-age realm of vaguely possible intangible benefits. Social media involvement can be a core part of your marketing and development efforts. And you should expect to use simple metrics to assess their success - donations, subscribers, page views. You may discover these new tools are pretty bread and butter after all.