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.

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.

What’s New in ePhilanthropy

Most nonprofits are on Facebook now, but fewer are using Twitter well.  Read these 24 Twitter best practices, and 8 nonprofit Twitter superstars who especially do it well, led by Charity:Water, which I highlighted in a recent post.  Also, don’t make these seven Twitter mistakes.

If you’re trying to figure out how to use content curation to benefit your cause, Beth Kanter offers this great primer as well as Content and Curation for Nonprofits on Scoop.It!  New tools such as Storify and also offer interesting ways to consolidate great content.  (But make sure you take the time to digest content you are curating.)

Not hearing as much lately about Google Plus even though it’s now open to the public, yet I keep receiving connection notices from people I don’t recognize.  Strange.

There’s no magic bullet for how to succeed in the nonprofit sector, but thanks to Big Duck and the Taproot Foundation for offering these suggestions.

Were you able to attend the recent Blackbaud Conference for Nonprofits or the Convio Summit?  Here’s some ways on how to live tweet from an event from M&R (but make sure you participate in the live discussion – some of my best insights are from Q&A that takes place at events)  Also, Frogloop offers these takeaways on What Your Nonprofit Needs to Know.

If you missed last week’s chat with Andy Goodman on story telling, you can still get the recording from Nten.  Unfortunately, Andy reminded us that many nonprofits are ‘great at what we do, but not good in talking about it.’

Finally, if you’re spending a bit too much time on social media, here’s an important reminder from Jocelyn Harmon – put your most important relationships first.

What’s New in ePhilanthropy

Social media expert Beth Kanter summarizes recent studies on how to increase Facebook engagement – it’s also a great way to find out what issues your constituents are most interested in.  Beth also outlines how to set SMART social media objectives.

To better understand how multichannel marketing works, read the recent DonorCentrics report and these write-ups from Frogloop, NonprofitTimes, The Agitator and Katya Andresen.  One step in the right direction – make sure your marketing/communications and fundraising are planning campaigns together.

How much resources should your nonprofit devote to a Twitter strategy?  Here’s Pew Internet‘s latest update on who’s using Twitter.  And in addition to having a Facebook like button on your website, you can add a Twitter follow button also.  Here’s also advice on the best days/times to tweet.

If you’re using integrated software like Convio, what stops you from using the tool most effectively?  Recent options like @ConvioHelp and live chat can be helpful, but my experience shows that issues with product usability often get in the way also.  My suggestion – make sure you take the time to train your staff on an ongoing basis.

Idealware also offers its own guideline on how to allocate your time between website, email and online outreach.

Attending Fundraising Day in New York this week?  If so, please look for me there.

Report from Chase Charity Insights Event in NYC

A stellar panel from Facebook (Matt Jacobson, Head of Market Development), Mashable (Zachary Sniderman, Social Good Assistant Editor), Nten (Holly Ross, Executive Director), and Twitter (Jack Dorsey, CEO/Co-Founder) shared thoughts this week on nonprofits’ use of social media at the Chase Charity Insights event in midtown NYC.

Jack Dorsey, who recently announced he will return to the helm of Twitter, began by recalling the now familiar story of Charity:Water, and asked that nonprofits:

  1. focus on design and storytelling – tell stories about the people you’re helping, not only about your organization
  2. measure results and listen to constituents
  3. use ‘simple tools’ to engage followers through ‘constant outreach’ to stay in touch

(Jack’s most recent project is Square, an amazing credit card reader which plugs into mobile phones, allowing organizations to accept donations / payments anywhere.)

Jack noted also that many charities are addressing the same issues, asking that we find ways to work together towards common goals.

Matt Jacobson explained how a simple gesture of agreeing to pay for someone’s groceries led to the $93 dollar club which has raised over $120,000 to fight hunger.  He offered a few websites to help nonprofits get the most from Facebook, such as Non-Profits on Facebook and Facebook Pages.

My friend Holly Ross gave a quick review of the Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report, recently released at Nten’s Nonprofit Technology Conference (and which I recently blogged about).  The most interesting takeaway – how organization size doesn’t matter – any nonprofit can benefit from using social media.  But Holly pointed out that online represents only about 5% of total fundraising and that direct mail still brings in the most money.  She also asked that we look past statistics and focus on telling good stories and building relationships.  During the Q&A session, Holly reminded us not to talk at people, but to seek to engage in conversation.

Zachary Sniderman offered several examples of creative nonprofit social media initiatives such as Earth Hour, Living Philanthropic and would you believe, World Poopin’ Day.

Today’s event was sponsored by Chase Community Giving, which recently extended its philanthropic program by two years and $25 million and will soon begin another contest to select charities to support.   There was some controversy over this program last year but nevertheless, learning from our colleagues on how to creatively use social media at our organizations is very worthwhile.

Many Great Reports Out This Week

The Online Giving Study from Network for Good and True Sense Marketing offers a comprehensive look of ephilanthropy, covering a 7 year time span and a wide range of nonprofits.  Many others have already discussed its results – see Frogloop, The Agitator and Wild Apricot.  What I particularly liked:

  • online fundraising is about relationship building, just as has it was for traditional development.  This is a great reminder for nonprofits that focus only on the technology, or who treat online as a very ‘different’ channel than offline.
  • most online givers still go through the nonprofit’s own website to donate, less frequently to giving portals and social giving sites.  More importantly, those who give through the charity’s site tend to donate more over the long term than other givers.
  • recurring giving should always be offered as an option.  Perhaps eventually it will be used as often in the US as it is elsewhere in the world.
  • those who give in December have a higher long term value than donors in other months.  Do you need any more of a reason to make sure your year-end appeals go out this month?
  • ‘disaster’ givers have lower long term value and lower retention.  But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t use stewardship strategies to build a relationship with these contributors.

Idealware’s updated Open Source Content Management Systems Report takes another look at Drupal, Joomla, WordPress and Plone.  Drupal still offers the most flexibility and has the support of a large international community.  But all of these tools are potent;  Wordpress is especially noteworthy for its ease of use and has developed into much more than a blogging tool.

Pew Internet’s first survey to focus on Twitter concludes that 8% of Online Americans Use Twitter which may seem like a low number, but nevertheless offers some interesting insights into the groups that are most active.  For example, while it may be no surprise that young people (18-29) are heavy users, the report also concludes that African Americans and Latinos are more than twice as likely to use Twitter as white users.  And even if you know if your constituents are on Twitter, their usage may differ greatly;  the report contrasts those who check multiple times / day for updates (25%) with those who never check for new content (20%).  My take: while it may have started out as a social service, that’s not the case now and your nonprofit should be using Twitter to connect with your audience.

Finally, in response to Apple’s reluctance to facilitate nonprofit fundraising on the iPhone, Beth Kanter has pledged to switch to an Android phone.  (I’m getting one too, but decided to do so before the recent controversy featured in the NY Times erupted.)  I believe the Androids will eventually overtake the iPhones, even with Verizon getting the iPhone (finally) soon.

Can You Afford to Ignore Facebook?

In addition to having long maintained this blog as a way to share my ideas with the nonprofit community, I’ve also used LinkedIn to keep in touch with my professional network and my Twitter feed as a way to share thoughts and resources that I learn about in between by (usually) weekly blog posts.  But I haven’t paid as much attention to my Facebook page, figuring that this is more of a ‘personal’ site and doesn’t specifically relate to my ephilanthropy work.  (I’ve also been concerned about the occasional privacy issues that have come up with sites such as Facebook, addressed in a recent Nten webinar.)

But in ignoring Facebook, I’ve made the same mistake as many nonprofits that are beginning to use social networking tools – not going where the constituents are.  Facebook is approaching the 500 million user mark, and is expected to go much higher.  Clearly, it is fulfilling the need that our supporters have to be connected to each other.  I’ve also noticed more of an overlap between personal and professional posts, an issue that my friend Farra Trompeter of Big Duck has often spoken about.  While I’m not suggesting that you share details of your personal life for the world to see and comment upon, it is a good idea to show more than one dimension of your personality.

What does this mean for nonprofits?  The more you can get to know about your constituents, the better you can develop your relationship.  You can find out by analyzing which of your web pages are most popular with Google Analytics, by taking surveys or polls with tools such as SurveyMonkey, or by simply asking what their most important priorities are.  You can also learn from listening and by using simple tools such as Google Alerts.

Even if you don’t fully understand why it’s become such a phenomenon, you can’t afford to ignore Facebook.  But make sure you review your privacy settings so you understand how your information will be shared. For a detailed description of Facebook’s brief but remarkable history, read David Kirkpatrick’s The Facebook Effect.  For help on deciding what to put on Facebook vs. Twitter vs. other social networking sites, see my post earlier this year, What Content to Post in Each Channel.

Addendum 7/15/10 – I will be featured today on Nten’s Facebook page.

How to Improve Your Presentations

Not only is it had to hold others’ attention for very long on a web site or in an email newsletter, it’s increasingly difficult to connect to your attendees during presentations (and often to colleagues during meetings).  Many of us are constantly checking our mobile devices to participate in social networking sites, a phenomenon clearly described in Cliff Atkinson’s recent book, The Backchannel.  So how can we use this as an opportunity to connect with more people instead of viewing this as a problem?

Social networking sites like Twitter allow event attendees to report on a presentation while it is taking place.  This means that you can reach many others who are not able to attend in person.   Below are some tips which I’ve taken from the book and from my own experience as a presenter:

  1. Create a hash tag (#) that can be used to reference comments on Twitter
  2. Use a presentation home page to link to slides and to provide a communication channel with the audience after the live presentation has ended.  Don’t forget to reference  your web site, SlideShare, Twitter, relevant blog postings and videos on YouTube
  3. Have a colleague monitor the backchannel while you present – it’s a bit challenging to do both yourself and still concentrate on what you’re saying
  4. Take ‘Twitter breaks’ to acknowledge what is being said and to respond to comments / suggestions
  5. Include more graphics and less words in your slides.  If you’re reading information from your slides, you’re not going to hold people’s interest
  6. If necessary, modify presentation based on feedback you receive while you speak.  Don’t be afraid to change tactics if your audience is not engaged.
  7. Encourage live participation throughout your talk, not only at the end.  I’ve often attended talks where there is so much information presented, there’s little or no time left for questions.  Don’t let this happen to you.
  8. Less is more.  Have a handful of major points you want attendees to remember (and to tweet).  Don’t try to communicate too much.
  9. Find out who is attending your presentation before you speak so you can customize your materials.  It’s helpful to ask some questions of the audience on site, but it’s much easier if you take the time to research in advance.
  10. Learn from great speakers, such as Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki and Beth Kanter.   Watch how they engage with the audience and use feedback from attendees to communicate their message.

Few of us are naturally great speakers, but it gets easier with practice.  Join a group like Toastmasters if you want to improve your skills and seek out every opportunity to speak to groups.

What Content to Post in Each Channel?

With the emergence of social media options such as Twitter, Facebook, and now Google Buzz to join the web site and email marketing, nonprofit organizations now have a cornucopia of communications options to stay in touch with constituents.  But which channels are best to use, and what messaging should go in each?   To address this dilemma, Tech Soup recently featured Aspiration’s Allen Gunn in Integrating Social Media Into Your Website.   A few highlights:

  • Consider where your constituents are most likely to be, and start publishing on those channels first
  • Even if you’re not ready to use them, set up accounts with consistent names on multiple social media sites – don’t forget about media sharing portals YouTube and Flickr
  • Provide information about other channels on email newsletters, blog posts etc.
  • Add channel links to organization email signatures
  • When deciding which channel(s) to use, consider whether you’ll be primarily sending, e.g.event announcements,late-breaking news or alerts, donation asks, scheduled communications or infrequent updates

To help prepare an overall communications plan, Aspiration provides a useful publishing matrix.  Gunner also recommended utilizing a social media dashboard using tools such as iGoogle and NetVibes (see Aspiration’s public dashboard) so you can keep track of how others are talking about your organization online.

So what content to use for what service?  We’re still learning, but my recommendations are:

  1. Web content and email marketing still come first.  If using other channels, make sure the messaging and images are consistent.
  2. Update blog content at least weekly;  include links to information you’ve already published on Twitter or Facebook
  3. Post in Twitter or Facebook several times daily, including retweets of others’ posts that will be of value to your followers.  Facebook generally has a more ‘personal’ touch, but always remember to stay focused on your organization / brand.
  4. Google Buzz? Too early to tell.  This seems like more of an effort to keep users in Gmail and as a response to other services than as a new value added product.
  5. Make it easy for constituents to find your other channels by referencing them on your web site.  For example, see the ‘Connect / Join / Follow Us’  links at Environmental Defense Fund , Witness, and Aspiration.
  6. Listen before you speak. You may have heard this advice when speaking with colleagues or with your spouse;  the same applies online
  7. Make sure you have something of value to say. If you’ve followed #6 by reviewing colleagues’ blogs / public content, you’ll have plenty of ideas to choose from.  But don’t just repeat – add your own spin.

Preparing for Philanthropy’s Black Friday

Most nonprofits get the bulk of their donations during December.  So what can we do to get the word out this month?

Heavyweight Salvation Army has stepped up its digital marketing efforts, switching its radio budget to online communications.  There is now an online version of the red kettle, which have already appeared at many locations I pass daily.  They’ve also embraced newer tools, such as an Iphone application and have established a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter.   After long relying on direct mail for new donor acquisition, Salvation Army is now focusing on online community building and on attracting younger donors through online strategies.

Convio estimates that more than 111 million constituents will donate over $4 billion online this holiday season.   At last month’s Convio Summit and Blackbaud Conference (oddly held during the same week in different parts of the country), the theme was the same – web giving continues to increase, even while overall donations have dropped a bit during the recession.  In his overview of online fundraising, Steve MacLaughlin suggested that we segment our audiences by generation – and communicate with them differently.  He also suggested we build relationships with constituents by asking for small actions first before asking for financial help.

How do you keep up with the many communication channels now available, e.g. email, RSS, Facebook, Twitter etc.   In her recent presentation at the Blackbaud event, Nten’s Holly Ross suggested we use filters to find what’s most relevant and not try to “keep up with everything.”  The volume of information available through social media can be overwhelming, but we have to find a way to keep abreast of conversations that are already taking place about our organizations and our causes.   Looking for a tool to integrate email with social media?  Take a look at Threadsy.

What’s the fundraising outlook for 2010?  According to Mal Warwick Associates, we should try to get donors to give more frequently, even if they can’t make the large contributions they’ve given us in the past.   In addition, we should continue to use a multichannel approach because “the number of donors who choose to respond by writing a check will only continue to dwindle.”

Wishing everyone a prosperous end of year fundraising season.