How to Track Your Nonprofit’s #SocialMedia Results

(Guest post by Todd Turner)

Social media has emerged as a key nonprofit resource for getting the word out about a cause, soliciting volunteers and raising funds through online donations. With Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a host of other social media platforms, nonprofits can build communities and mobilize people to achieve organizational objectives like never before.

But social media activity isn’t worth much if you don’t measure how well you’re doing. Are you gaining followers on Twitter? Are people reading your Facebook posts? How often do fans and followers share the content you offer with their own networks and inspire others to get involved?

Below is a brief overview of different analytics tools and how they can help track your social media campaigns:

Google Analytics

The Google Analytics dashboard provides a vast amount of useful information — from the types of social media sites driving traffic to your website to specific pages most frequently viewed by users when they get there. It’s also possible to monitor conversions, as, for example, if you tweet with an offer to download a white paper, you can determine how successful this campaign turns out to be with followers.

Facebook Page Insights

Facebook Page Insights breaks up analytics by::

Likes, including organic “Likes” and paid “Likes”
Reach, including the number of viewers who see an individual post, whether or not they click on it
Visits, including how often a page’s different tabs are viewed (“About me,” “Timeline,” photos, etc.)
Posts, including the days and times a page’s fans come to Facebook
People, including a breakdown of demographics, including language, gender, country and city

Twitter Analytics

Twitter’s free analytics platform offers users a way to track tweets. Engagement reports detail the number of link clicks, retweets, tweet impressions, favorites and replies generated by individual tweets. On the Tweet Activity dashboard, you can compare and contrast an individual tweet’s performance in real time or how well tweets perform month over month. Twitter Analytics also features a section focusing on the type of followers you attract, separated by location, interests and demographics.


Hootsuite’s chief benefit lies in its “all-in-one” dashboard for monitoring your nonprofit’s social media results. You can track a wide array of social networks and create custom-tailored reports for your constituents and backers. The dashboard also incorporates Facebook Insights and Google Analytics in its offerings.

Social Media Monitoring Tips

• Include conversion assists, traffic from social media, engagement, mentions, shares and comments in your tracking efforts.

• Pay attention to the numbers but don’t lose sight of the “bigger picture” (e.g. how your social media efforts attract new supporters and donors and relate to raising awareness of your cause).

• Maintain perspective over the relative importance of social media metrics.

“Social media should fold into your overall metrics program, not the other way around,” notes J.D. Lasica, founder of Socialbrite. “What you’re really trying to do is advance your organization’s mission. Metrics are just a tool to help you do that.”

Todd Turner is the President of LogoMagnet, a custom design magnet company that produces and distributes magnets for schools, non-profits, sports teams and more.

Before You Build (or Rebuild) Your Next Website

Yesterday I led an all-day kickoff meeting for a new website at my organization which we plan to launch in early 2015.  As the Project Manager, my role was to set expectations for our internal team, most who have not been through a website development process (which can be a bit ‘challenging’ at times).

On the same day as our meeting, I also learned of a newly released workbook by Idealware, Do You Need a New Website, which I would recommend as required reading before you decide to embark on this journey.  Also, consider these tips, which we discussed during our kickoff meeting:

  1. Make sure all stakeholders are represented.  Although they didn’t attend our meeting, I reached out to our Executive Director and Communications staff to ask for their input during the process.
  2. Ask about the availability of your team in preparing and reviewing content.  Many of my colleagues have an extensive travel schedule, which will affect the time they will spend on our project.
  3. Plan for mobile, which will require prioritizing which content can be presented on a small screen.  (Our site will be responsive, which will look well on any device.)
  4. Decide how often you will be in touch with the website developers, and what tool you’ll use to communicate (we chose Basecamp as an alternative to searching through emails)
  5. Develop metrics for how you will measure the success of your new (or redesigned) website.  Go beyond the generic goals of ‘site traffic’ or ‘increased awareness’ and decide on specific items such as numbers of members who request information or participate in community discussions.
  6. Drill down to the specific audiences you want to reach, and what information they are likely to seek on your site (for example, what keywords are most frequently used to search for your topic?)
  7. Have in person contact wherever possible;  scheduling a phone conversation is better than relying only on email correspondence.
  8. Plan how you will use social media channels to supplement your website (tip – find out where the audience is before you select which networks to focus on)

For a preview of what will be featured (and expanded to include program profiles) on our new website, check out the tribal justice section of the Center for Court Innovation website.






Great New Project Management & Online Fundraising Resources

If you’re planning a website redesign project, download this updated free resource from Smart Cause Digital, the Nonprofit Website Project Handbook.  As a sample, below are my tweets while I attended this week’s informative webinar by firm founder Yesenia Sotelo:

  • Building a new website? Be specific about audience you’re trying to reach (e.g. not just men or women)
  • Picking a website design vendor? Do you want fast, cheap or good (pick 2)
  • Sending Out a RFP for your website project? Include a budget!
  • During website redesign process, document major decisions (in place where everyone can access)
  • In addition to building website for mobile, also make it accessible and search engine friendly
  • Show your website designer example of other sites that compelled you to take action
  • Most delays in website development are due to delays in getting content
  • All website content doesn’t all have to be written by your org. Ask stakeholders to help
  • Make sure to include enough time to user testing of new website – and to fix what issues they find
  • Also to help with website testing – try Feedback Army or User Testing, or even better if you have limited $/time – ask active volunteers to do specific task on staging site
  • Training on new website / CMS is not a one-time event – make it ongoing for new & current staff
  • Ready to launch new website? Be careful about scheduling too close to major event (allow time for possible delays)
  • Boring stuff but a must – make sure you have documentation and regular backups of your new website

Learn why communication is the most important skill of a successful project manager in this new Project Management Institute Pulse of the Profession report.

Want to learn from the most experienced and successful online fundraisers?  Download 30 Brilliant Bits of Online Fundraising Wisdom by Care2.  Its three major recommendations:

  1. Optimize for small screens – make it easy for constituents to give and take action from a mobile device
  2. Improve data communications and data sharing within your organization
  3. Learn how to tell powerful stories about the impact of your work\

Finally, if you make a mistake in your Facebook post, you can finally correct it – on Web & Android now, coming to IOS soon.  (Makes you wonder why this was so long in coming.)

Report from Not-for-Profit Webmaster Round Table

At this week’s meeting of the Not-for-Profit Webmaster Round Table, we watched demos of Giving Impact, a new online fundraising platform from Minds on Design Lab;  a Digg-like site which allows visitors to vote up / down their favorite nonprofit tech posts; and Pushcards, a novel way to create a postcard campaign using  (using Click2Mail to send postcards).  But how well could the effectiveness of a postcard campaign be measured?

Not-for-Profit Webmaster Round TableWe then turned to mobile.  We agreed that besides the obvious technical issues of creating a mobile optimized site and/or application, content is often the biggest challenge. Designing for mobile forces an organization to prioritize its content for a small screen, much like many departments have often competed for space on a website home page.  As an alternative to a complete website redesign (often the only way to make an existing site work well on mobile), David Milner reported success using Mobify as an interim step.  I also recommended the WordPress plug-in WPTouch.  To learn more about responsive design, take a class with Noble Desktop (in NYC).

Who’s ready for year-end fundraising?  Apparently not many organizations that were represented at our meeting.  It’s time to get started.  We also discussed how to create ‘benefits’ to encourage constituents to join (membership) organizations;  one attendee suggested setting up conference calls between members and top management.  I also recommended offering a monthly giving option, like WBGO is doing in its current fundraising drive.

How about using video to stimulate fundraising / engagement?  Rainforest Alliance has nearly 1.4 million views to date with Follow the Frog. Also, Charity Water continues to create amazing videos, such as its current September Campaign.

Of course no get-together of iT folk is complete without a venture into social media.  One attendee’s client recently asked what other social platforms they should try, even though they haven’t yet analyzed their current activity on Facebook and Twitter to determine their effectiveness.  Twitter has a new analytics module which is worth a look, as is Twitonomy.  (Also see my recent blog post highlighting Idealware’s great new social media guide.)

If you haven’t tried Google+ Hangouts / Hangouts On Air for group meetings, it’s time to take a look – some of our attendees prefer it to Skype.

Finally, we sadly agreed that the ideal of a nonprofit using a decentralized system to update web content is often still a dream.  It’s not easy to get staff to update content, especially if it’s not officially part of their job.  Providing content templates can sometimes help, but it’s still a tricky process to get staff to understand that a fresh website is still important, even in the age of social media.  If your staff does write content, make sure you enable your content management systems’s workflow capabilities so updates can be reviewed before publication.

Contact us if you’d like to be notified about our next meeting, planned for December.

Highlights from Idealware’s Latest Social Media Resource

idealware social media decision guideIs your organization still trying to figure out how (or whether) to use social media?  Even if you already think you’re savvy, you definitely need to see Idealware‘s newly updated Nonprofit Social Media Decision Guide.  Below are some nuggets to whet your appetite to download the full (free) report (my comments are in parentheses):

  • Facebook shouldn’t be the end goal of a social media strategy any more than a telephone should be the objective of a communications plan.
  • Social media is NOT another way to distribute one-way messages, rather an ongoing two-way conversation with your supporters.
  • Posting on a blog isn’t really social media unless you encourage others to comment, link to it, or to respond on their own blogs or social channels.
  • If your audience is using a particular communications method, it may benefit you to use it as well.  (Don’t know what channels your supporters are using most?  ASK, e.g. survey community)
  • Concentrate FIRST on stable computers, a solid website, a usable way to track constituents and a good broadcast email strategy BEFORE you tackle social media (I particularly like this tip).
  • Social media complements proven strategies such as direct mail and broadcast email;  it doesn’t replace them.
  • Many prospective supporters may look for your organization on Facebook before they ever find your website.  (With over a billion users, you need a Facebook page.)
  • A blog that is not regularly updated is worse than having no blog at all.  Consider inviting multiple staff members or guest authors to contribute content.
  • It’s better to use social media to support/promote your bigger fundraising campaign, than to try to fundraise through social media alone.
  • Set aside at least two hours / week for every social media channel you are using.  It’s much better to use one or two channels well than many channels poorly.
  • Devoting more time to social media doesn’t guarantee success, but not putting in enough time almost guarantees failure.
  • Some channels that encourage frequent updating (like Twitter) won’t work if you only use them when you’re in the middle of a campaign, then abandon them until next time (like the professional who only wants to ‘network’ with you when they are in a job search).
  • Use each channel to attract visitors to others, e.g. website link on your Facebook page and vice versa.
  • Communications on different channels should have a consistent message but NOT be identical (be careful with services that post simultaneously on multiple networks).
  • What do you want to accomplish with your social media presence?  (Getting more followers isn’t enough of a goal.)  Best to figure this out before you get started so you can select the best channels and develop a strategy.
  • Don’t forget to draft a social media policy to guide your staff on what’s appropriate to post online (and what topics to avoid).

For more great ideas, listen to a recording of Idealware’s recent webinar, Trends Worth Following: Tools for Advanced Social Media Users,

Getting Stats on Your Twitter Activity

I’ve been helping my organization analyze the success of our Twitter activity, but have spent considerable time analyzing our tweets to determine what topics have resonated most with our audience.  Recently, I’ve discovered some new tools which make the process easier.

Twitter Analytics MenuFirst, Twitter finally has its own analytics, available here (sign in to Twitter Ads, then go to Analytics on top menu.  You don’t have to be a paid advertiser to access analytics.).  These statistics are clearly at an early stage, not as useful as Facebook Insights and not at all comparable to what Google Analytics offers for web sites.  But the information provided is useful, and I’m sure it will continue to improve. Read this useful analysis of Twitter’s early offering.

Second, I recently discovered Twitonomy, which like many social media tools has a free and paid mode.  The paid service (it’s only $20 for one month) gives you more flexibility in reporting periods. Detailed data is available on overall Twitter activity, mentions/retweets and followers.

Finally, Twitter Counter also offers information on followers, mentions, retweets etc. in a slightly different format.  Like Twitonomy, it has a free and paid mode, but Twitonomy seems to offer more historical information once you become a paid user.

My take.  While these statistics are interesting, you still need to think about what you want your nonprofit’s Twitter activity to accomplish. Increasing your follower count and gaining more attention to your cause is nice, but developing targets for email list growth, donations and other specific calls to action will make it easier to measure the value of why your staff should spend time on Twitter and other social media platforms.

More 2012 Blog Highlights

Continuing from last week’s post, these are topics I wrote about on Nonprofit Bridge in 2012:

Wishing you a healthy and joyful 2013!  Hope to see many of you at next year’s Nonprofit Technology Conference in Minneapolis in April, where I’ll be leading a panel on Why Organization Structure Matters for Online Success.

Nonprofit Bridge 2012 Highlights

As we prepare for 2013, here are some 2012 blog highlights:

More 2012 highlights next week and a look forward at 2013.  Happy new year!

Facebook Changes (Again) & New Tech Products

With Facebook’s latest algorithm update, it’s less likely that those who have liked your Facebook page will actually see your posts.  Beth Kanter offers many great tips on how to respond.  Maybe it’s wise to spend a bit more time on Twitter, which doesn’t restrict what tweets will appear to your followers.

This week has seen a dizzying array of new products: Windows 8, Wndows RT, Microsoft’s Surface tablet, the Ipad mini and a new full sized Ipad.  As David Pogue points out, Microsoft tries to bridge the desktop/laptop and phone/tablet worlds, but the result is unsatisfying. If you’re happy with Windows 7, there’s no urgent reason to upgrade – there’s also a big learning curve with the new software.  Here’s a comparison between Windows 8 and Windows RT.  As far as tablets, I’m happy with my Google Nexus, which cost only $199 vs. $329 (and up) for the new Ipad mini.

I’ve been using for scheduling my social media updates, but that product is going away in mid November.  I’ve already switched to HootSuite, which I was already using for listening and responding to mentions / retweets;  Buffer is also worth a look.

Twitter doesn’t have built in analytics like Facebook, so I’ve been experimenting with tools such as SocialBro, Sparkwise and TwentyFeet,  I’ve also heard great things about Small Act’s Thrive.  What’s your favorite?

I’m working my way through Measuring the Networked Nonprofit – do you have your copy yet?  Listen to a 6 minute interview with Beth Kanter, attend an Nten webinar next week  and read my previous post to learn more about why it’s so important to track your organization’s social media efforts.

How Are You Tracking Your Social Media Initiatives?

Measuring the Networked NonprofitLike most nonprofits, my organization is testing the waters of social media to see what works.  Here are some quick tips on what I’ve learned so far on how you can get your nonprofit into the game and track your efforts:

  1. Make sure to use trackable links with tools such such as  This is especially helpful in Twitter, which doesn’t have detailed analytics like Facebook Insights.
  2. When reporting to management, keep the data simple.  For example, show how many followers you have now compared to last week / month (or last time you reported)?
  3. Get Beth Kanter’s just released Measuring the Networked Nonprofit, which specifically addresses how to track social media results.
  4. Find those in your organization who are social media savvy and ask them to join a cross-departmental group that meets regularly to discuss how participating in social networks helps you achieve your mission.
  5. Make sure your social media posts are coordinated with other organization communications – it can’t work well if it’s in a vacuum.
  6. Include great photos in your posts, on Facebook and elsewhere.  Visuals always get the most response.
  7. Don’t forget about creating an organization page on LinkedIn so that those interested in your work can follow you there too (and then post updates at least weekly)
  8. Thank those who are retweeting and sharing your content – and find ways to increase engagement
  9. For inspiration (and to encourage reluctant colleagues), observe how other nonprofits with similar objectives have built large audiences on social media channels.  What type of posts / strategies are working for them?
  10. Be consistent.  Plan to post regularly, but make sure you customize content for each channel.  (And don’t try to be in more places than you can realistically handle.)