Social Media Measurement is this month’s theme on my blog Facebook page. Last week, Dan Michel offered an intriguing answer to this question: “What form of social media measurement does your organization engage in; Community participation, advocacy (earned mentions, discussions), or donations ($ or time)? ”
I thought it would useful to have a more in-depth conversation with Dan so we could delve into KPIs for social media. The conversation was fast and intense on Facebook, so that’s why I’m taking the time to summarize out here.
Dan is the Digital Marketing Manager for Feeding America where he oversees the execution of their external digital strategy which includes social media. Feeding America is the nation’s leading hunger organization with a network of over 200 food banks serving 37 million Americans struggling with hunger.
Feeding America’s strategic plan has a broad goal to mobilize the public in three outcomes areas: donations, public policy advocates and brand awareness and foster engagement. One KPI (Key Performance Indicators) they use for their social media strategy is share of conversation. As Dan Michel notes, “Our social media strategy focuses on brand awareness and engagement and is part of an integrated communications strategy. We spend time identifying and building relationships with super-advocates online and engage them — similar to the way you engage major donors or champion advocacy constituents. “
For example, during Hunger Action Month in September, Feeding America created a tab on their Facebook page where people could share a different action every day. The theme was “30 Ways for 30 Days“. Dan says, “We measured that through each action and each was track-able. At the end of the month, we could gauge our share of conversation in the hunger through listening tools. “
Using Radian 6, a listening tool, they do a pre/post share of Conversation about hunger. Says Michel, “We did increase our share of conversation during that month about 150%!” They also track how many fans and followers as a way to gauge how effective their tactics were. Michel reports that those increased during the month of September at a faster rate.
Social media results are also reported to senior management as part of their organizational reporting for their strategic plan. Says Michel, “In this specific case, we share our social media measurement results as part of the overall campaign report. For digital and social, we have a cross-departmental team creating digital goals together with each department acting as a subject matter expert. The team is creating an overall digital dashboard that can be shared with the organization as a whole.”
Feeding America also tracks conversions for donors using Google Analytics so they can follow the path of the donor – from a like or comment on Facebook to online donation form. “It is still a little clunky and requires work but that information is very valuable. We are low on the donation conversions but we are seeing social media become very important in helping with public policy efforts – like the recent Child Nutrition Bill. We saw a lot of interest and click thrus from Twitter particularly.” They used Google Analytics to see where traffic is coming from specifically to their advocacy pages surrounding the bill and looked at Twitter retweets.
Dan also emphasizes that social media acted an accelerator and that it was a multi-channel campaign both online and offline and used both grassroots and grasstops tactics. As Michel notes, The bill passed and our advocacy folks are taking a well-deserved break.
Feeding America uses KPIs for social media to not only support bigger organizational goals but also measure Dan’s job performance. To come up with goals, notes Michel, “We took a snapshot of the previous and determined a “reach goal” for the next fiscal year.” Michel says you need the rights goals and the right KPIs. Another internal challenge is to get the different departments on the same page about what to measure. This done on the front-end through cross-departmental teams where each department acts a subject matter expert and a shared dashboard that can be shared with the organization as a whole. Michel also observes, “It is important to realize that all these different measurements (donations, constituents, policy actions, conversation) are dependent and can affect of each other, it isn’t an either/or.”
Dan says, “I have been doing web for a long time and increasing unique website visitors was always a KPI. With social media now is that as important anymore? Maybe?” (See this research report from Altimeter on the new social media analytics and the accompanying links from this blog post by Jeremiah Owyang.)
Dan offers this advice to other nonprofits about social media measurement:
Examine existing strategic plans/board outcomes and ask “How can social media support those?” Realize that there may not be an apples-to-apples comparison but examine how your social media efforts are helping you achieve your bigger organization goals. Also, social media is a great way to work cross-departmentally and begin conversations that should have been happening earlier between departments.
Have questions about social media measurement? Join the conversation.
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