Last week we talked about seven misconceptions organizations might have about social media and the issue of ROI made an appearance.
Measuring return-on-investment is important for any association or non-profit. Organizations don’t just have tight budgets; they have members and donors who expect financial accountability and wise spending. Therefore, it is crucial your organization is able to calculate its social media ROI.
Measuring social media ROI is not always straight-forward. There is no exact formula for figuring out how social media is affecting your bottom line. For example, one new fan on Facebook doesn’t mean one new member for your association and X number of retweets doesn’t necessarily mean Y number of dollars contributed to your cause.
Although you may not be able to crunch the numbers to generate an exact ROI, there is a way to look into the data that is available to measure the impact of your social media account.
Let’s start with the most obvious number; the number of followers (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest), likes (Facebook) or subscribers (blogs, YouTube). It is not unusual to look at this number first because of its in-your-face position at the top of every social media platform.
The number of users that connect with your account is a good way to learn how many people are receiving your messages. This is important because common sense says if no one is listening, no one is contributing, financially or otherwise.
Having a healthy amount of followers, likes, etc., is important, but putting too much stock in this number is dangerous. This stat does not tell the whole story.
The next level of interaction to look at is the share element; when someone passes on your message and its content to others. This comes in the form of a retweet, a re-pin, a re-post and the like.
Having your content shared means that not only did the sharer think your content was useful, but they passed it on to even more people. This increases the chance that the sharer will keep coming back to your account. It also encourages others to connect with your organization for the first time. This is an important step for establishing a trusted image on social media and a relationship with members of the community.
The most important interaction in the search for ROI is when a connection comments on a social media post. Whether it is a mention on Twitter, asking a question on Facebook or posting a comment on a blog, this type of engagement is hugely significant to measuring the impact of your account.
Having conversations is what social media is all about. Social media is not about reaching a large audience with one-way communication, but about making connections, relaying information and building relationships. That is how it is unique from traditional marketing avenues like TV ads.
You are providing a service by having conversations with people through your organization’s social media accounts. You are helping someone with a question they have or relating to a story. In short, you are creating an experience and a personal bond between that person and your organization.
That bond is going to make them think of your organization first. That interaction is going to reveal the true value of your organization to them. That conversation already has that potential member, donor or volunteer emotionally or intellectually invested in the response you are going to give them. At the end of the day, it could lead them to invest time or money into your organization as well.
The more of these genuine, organization-to-person interactions your social media account has, the higher your ROI is likely to be.
Keeping a monthly or even weekly report of the type and total number of interactions your account has is important in determining the reach and effectiveness of the organization’s social media activity. By comparing stats from month to month, it is easier to see where the account is attracting engagement and where it has room to grow and increase ROI.
Klout is another easy and effective way to measure the impact of your social media account. Klout takes information from several platforms (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and grades your organization’s presence on social media from 1-100.
The nice thing about Klout is that it grades based on quality and not quantity. The more interactions and engagement your account has with others, the higher the grade. This means your Klout score will suffer if no one is commenting, conversing or sharing your content, even if you have a million followers, fans, etc.
There is no magic formula for calculating the ROI for social media to your organization. You have to rely on counting the number of connections you make with followers and members of the online community. These connections turn into relationships that make people want to invest in your non-profit or association. In the end, it is these relationships that will make people want to keep investing and that will help your organization thrive in the long-term.