For as many social media platforms as there are out there, there are equally as many social media metrics your nonprofit could track to measure engagement.
How do you break it all down so that you’re only keeping track of the most important stuff (or, ahem … measuring what matters)?
I’ve found that the most important metrics for GlobalGiving’s social media content falls into four buckets:
Do people like the content of your post? Count it as applause when users click on a URL in your post to read an article, or they like your photo on Facebook, for example.
Do your followers share your content with their personal networks? Measure amplification in terms of Twitter re-tweets, or the number of Facebook shares, for example.
Does your content spark engagement through back-and-forth conversation? Examples of conversation are when Twitter users reply to a tweet or Instagram users comment on your post.
Does your content move people to act, ultimately helping you meet your objective? When readers click on your link and purchase or sign up as a result of seeing your content, we count that as a conversion.
These four buckets help me make ensure I’m looking at the whole picture when measuring the success of my social outreach. Sometimes I just want to focus on one element, amplification, for example, if I’m just trying to get my message seen by as many people as possible. Other days the other metrics don’t matter if I’m not driving donations (conversions).
Each of these buckets allows for quantitative measures, but it’s also important to make qualitative judgements about your success. For example, we all know that a thoughtful, engaging reply is worth a lot more to your brand than someone’s cut-and-paste self-promotion on your Facebook wall, even though they each count as one conversation. Using a tool like Storify can help you keep track of qualitative engagement and can provide color to your numbers when you take an overall look.
And one last note here. There’s actually a fifth bucket that I also use that’s almost purely qualitative. You could call it brand, or maybe alignment. It’s about how well your content reflects your overall mission, and helps you meet your triple bottom line. Did you create a hilarious .gif that went viral, but made some of your staff feel kind of icky inside? Or are your metrics driving you to create generic inspirational quotes that distract from your purpose? These questions are important to consider, too, when determining whether your content is working. So don’t forget to ask for feedback from your stakeholders to make sure that doing what drives the numbers is still doing what’s best for the people you serve and helping move them and your organization forward.
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