Social Media Return on Investment

Another in the NTEN/TechSoup Storytelling & Social Media series, today on measuring your investment in social media by Beth Kanter

Metrics measure your investment over time by analyzing data. Usually we think of this as measuring overall payouts from the entire business. While this is worthwhile, it’s interesting to think of measuring just one component of a business and certainly makes the process of analyzing social media return on investment more difficult. But, it’s not impossible to be able to state the benefits and costs and savings, comparing methods and eventually getting to the bottom financial line.

We’ve talked before about listening–or in web terms, ‘searching’–here. Most social networking sites, and some other entrepreneurial sites, offer ways to count, track, and find your organization and keywords. A great example of organizations using this process is Red Cross post-Katrina. People were talking, and Red Cross started listening. Because the staff saw what people were saying about them, they then realized they could use online tools to build relationships.

If you pay for donor acquisitions, you’ll understand, and are probably already comparing the potential for lower costs of collecting contacts from social media interactions rather than purchasing lists.

Measuring Your Web Appearances

Author: Track your word counts–<350 words per post?; set a publication frequency that works for you, but be consistent. Tracking page visits is outmoded–there’s so much more meaningful data to collect!
Unique Readers: FeedBurner explains how to set this measurement up; for example, there are more than 2000 feed readers and FeedBurner pulls data from all these. The more tools you’re working with online, the more portals through which people can find you and thus the more info you’ll have when you start measuring this traffic. Try searching delicious for your organization and counting individuals who have tagged your information.
Engagement: PostRank assigns a number to the aggregate interaction around a ‘story’ or web post. This seems like a pretty advanced tool that would provide a positive ROI for organizations that are out there using multiple tools already. I’m not even quite sure what it does–this one I’ll put on the back burner for now.
Authority: Technorati is a search engine for blogs; if your blog is registered there, it assigns a comparitive number based on readers, comments, etc. Yahoo has a similar search engine for your blog posts.

By participating in the web and these measurement tools, you can get ideas for new programs, research your market base and increase connections to potential volunteers or donors. Compare the costs of conducting this research in the ‘old way’ to collecting this info via social media–this process can be translating into actual dollars. Numbers and stories–good ol’ quantitative and qualitative eval–make your point when selling the concepts of social media. Even WordPress tracks more specific visitor data right here on this blog. I have some posts that have received 100 views, others only a few. Those are the counts; examining why is the real ROI analysis.

Have a goal, and count measurements that support this goal. You can use baseline measures–e.g. we have 12 Facebook friends–and measure change over time. Number of emails added to your database, greater number of people mentioning your organization online, number of subscribers to a blog–pick what to measure so you’re not spending more time measuring than participating in social media!

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1 Comment

Filed under Making the Case, Plan

One response to “Social Media Return on Investment

  1. Thanks! That is great info to know! :)

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