How Do You Measure Social Media?

I am often asked by nonprofit organizations how to determine if their investment in social media is worth it. People want to know what the ROI is for putting resources into blogging, Twittering, and maintaining a Facebook presence. It’s a valid question that is best answered by first recognizing that social media requires a very different approach to measurement. It starts with an understanding that the deliverables are not the same ones that apply to traditional media or even to the web of just a few years ago. Old measures – circulation figures, impressions, page views, and unique visitors – don’t work.

Because social media is “social” you need to think how your use of the social media tools drives social engagement between your organization and the people you want to bring closer to you. Here are a few ways to think about a social media ROI for your organization.

Note: Your organizational priorities should be the frame for measurement. In other words, know what you want to achieve and then rank your analytics against those goals. If advocacy is a top priority, you will want to measure your ability to leverage social media toward that goal. If you want to increase membership, engagement using social media is an important measure. And remember, the greatest measures are the ones that have the greatest impact – that create specific, niche conversations and relationships that can and will blossom over time.

  1. How is social media contributing to your call to action? If you blog, host a podcast, viral a video about a call to action, what response are you getting or do you want to get? Are people reacting or not? Who is reacting? What are they doing?
  2. Is your social media strategy creating conversations with the people you want to engage? Are your blog posts getting responses and creating chains of conversation? From whom? How many? What topics are working? What ones are not?
  3. Are your tweets, blogs, and other conversation-starters powerful igniters of discussion that go beyond a back and forth between you and the responder? Are new people parts of the conversations? Are they offering new ideas? Are you creating long strings of conversation on topics important to your organization and the people you want to reach?
  4. Are your efforts creating small, distinct communities that engage beyond your initial efforts? Can you call your organization a “community-connector”?
  5. Do those who respond to your social media outreach exhibit a friendly tone? Are they by and large favorable to your organization? Make note of their tone and then ask yourself if people like your “brand” or are they not so inclined to support it.
  6. Do you know who is watching? Reading? Responding? For how long?

There are tools you can use to effectively measure your social media efforts based on the attributes listed above. More on that in a later post.

Gail Hyman is a marketing and communications professional, with deep experience in both the public and private sectors. She currently focuses her practice, Gail Hyman Consulting, on assisting Jewish nonprofit organizations increase their ranks of supporters and better leverage their communications in the Web 2.0 environment. Gail is a regular contributor to eJewish Philanthropy.