Shop Talk: Social Media Metrics, Know What Works

The pressure to keep up with the demands of social media is intense and at times nerve wracking.  And then there are those darker moments when you wonder, is anyone even paying attention? Your staff may be furiously Tweeting every hour or scrambling to get that e-newsletter out every week, but unless you have some measurement of whether these things are really connecting to people, they are, to put it bluntly, a waste of staff time. This article is certainly not exhaustive, but perhaps it will get you thinking.   

Set Goals

For each social media channel you use, identify a six-month or annual goal. For example, you would like to see a 15% increase in the number people who read your blog or 25% increase in e-newsletter subscribers. Another goal might be to identify an audience that you haven’t reached in a particular geographic area or an age level that you want to connect with.

Three Tools

There are three basic tools that can help you track your social media metrics: Google Analytics, the reports from whatever social media channel you use (for example, Facebook, Mail Chimp, Tweeter), and a spreadsheet.

For the first two, you’ll need to learn how they work and what they can offer you. Setting your goals will help you set up what features you want to use. For example, you have a goal of raising a certain amount of donations for a special project, you could create a series of campaign emails and then look at the click throughs (that is, where people went when they clicked on something, like the donate button). I’m pretty sure you know how to set up a spreadsheet but see the example below.

1. Google Analytics: Every website needs to have Google analytics installed. Learning how to use it can be daunting at first, but once it is set up you can see who is looking at what on your website, what content they like, where they live, how they are getting to the site (through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), how many people donated (most nonprofit can also get this information from a third-party donation program), and oodles of other information. By far the best guide is The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics by Kristi Hines.

2. Reports: Most social media services, like Facebook, Twitter, Mail Chimp, etc., have a tracking feature that analyzes the traffic and responses: how many visitors, clicks, opens, subscriber’s social activity, donations/ecommerce, and more. So whatever social media you use, look into their reporting capabilities and learn how to get the reports.

3. A Spreadsheet: Heather Mansfield of Nonprofit Tech for Good offers a spreadsheet template to get you going. Attached is a PDF, but go to Heather’s site to get the Excel sheet template. The spreadsheet is an invaluable tool that should reflect your goals and show you over time what is working and what is not.

Look at It! Think About It! Act on It!

Allocate time each month to gather the data and reports and put information into the spreadsheet. Once you have at least three months of data or more, sit down with staff and look at the trends. Did the January e-newsletter bring a high number of people to the website? What pages did they land on? What were they looking at? What was the content? What did you ask them to do? Once you have about six months-worth of data you can begin to make some strategic decisions about things you might want to do more of or things you might want to change. This is time well spent.