What Does the Data Say? Guest Post by George Weiner, DoSomething.Org
Note from Beth: Last week, I wrote about SoSomeThing.Org as an example of a nonprofit with a “data-driven culture.” What initially caught my eye was the above presentation from George Weiner. I invited him to share a guest post based on his speaking notes from this wonderful presentation he presented in NYC at the Social Media for Nonprofits event the beginning of August. (Hat Tip Farra at Big Duck for the terrific roundup from the conference.)
I have been obsessed with the topic of data driven decisions in not-for-profits and recently got a chance to present at the ‘Social Media for Non-Profits’ conference in NYC. Here is a rough narrative to accompany my ‘What does the data say?’ prezi I presented in August.
Keep it simple when it comes to making data driven decisions: gather, analyze, act (repeat).
Social media is not free, there is a true cost of operation because of the time spent managing it. If we (NPOs) are investing in social media, then we should be measuring it to make sure it drives action – this presentation shows a way for just looking at Twitter using Google Analytics.
The first stop is a quick overview of why most NPOs fail to use data and how they can all be overcome:
o Google Analytics is free, as are many other basic analysis tools.
o Just gather, analyze, and act based on key performance indicators
o Make read only accounts for data access.
Understanding the data
o Google Analytics has great overview videos, and there are tons of resources once you start looking for.
The list goes on, but the biggest hurdle is the elephant or HiPPO in the room that no one wants to talk about. The Highest Paid Person in the Organization needs to buy into data driven decisions otherwise adoption for a NPO is nearly impossible (Avinash Kaushik).
Twitter is a very simple social network, messaging is all about story and flow.
Story = what you’re saying and who you’re saying it to
Flow = how quickly you tell it.
There are many ways to create and cultivate great content with limited resources/time. For example, there is a simple way to use Flickr and a custom email address to aggregate photos from your constituents to then create a photo of the day similar to @CharityWater.
Message amplification on Twitter relies on hashtags and ReTweets and @DanZarella gets this like no one else.
Just by using Google Analytics to gather information there is a lot you can measure about your audience. I love
Google Analytics because it shows you what people actually do – not what they say they do (or what the HiPPO says people do via anecdotal evidence).
Sins of data analysis include not setting measureable goals, looking for data that just supports your opinion, and not measuring why you succeed the same way you measure the way you fail.
Google Analytics – for free – can show you referring traffic from different followers on Twitter, it can show who sends quantity AND quality traffic. I make sure to note that time on site and pages per visit don’t tell the whole story, which is why you need to setup goals
This is the most important step, because without it you are just spinning your wheels. A simple way to leverage Google Analytics is to us it to setup weekly feedback loops by setting up auto emails of relevant reports for your team. (Why feedback loops work via Wired. )
The prezi ends with a reminder to always ask ‘what does the day say’ but notes that data alone is not enough to make change in your organization. In the book “Switch” by Dan and Chip Heath they explain you also need an emotional argument to support the logical one – combine it with a real plan and you can make change.
Final word of caution not to charge a HiPPO with data, or else. Instead bring an empty chair to the table and stick data in it.
George Weiner is the CTO of DoSomething.Org. He also rants on the Huffington Post.
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