ROI for social engagement and fundraising

publication date: Jul 12, 2011
author/source: Cheryl Black
The ability to work within social media platforms can help strengthen your identity and your message. And it allows your supporters to extend your reach to their friends and family - people you might never reach on your own.Author photo

Measuring the return on investment for online campaigns is no new concept. But in a rapidly changing online and digital landscape, how do organizations properly measure the impact of social media efforts and analyze this data for meaningful takeaways?

The good news is that many tracking options and technology integrations exist, allowing for greater insight into the true impact of social efforts. Allowing people to register for your cause through the use of established online identity with Gigya or creating social media widgets using open platforms like Convio are two great examples of being able to track the effects of a social media strategy.

Things to remember

Keeping in mind that new social media tools and tactical uses are being discovered daily, there are five main tips to follow when measuring social media activity for ROI:

  1. Define success metrics before starting campaigns. How will you know what campaigns are successful if you don't know what success looks like? Just as you'd outline performance indicators for website metrics, fundraising goals or advocacy efforts, you should define and stick to the outcomes you expect from social media.
  2. Keep a dashboard of metrics and update it regularly to highlight positive trends and insights over time. To start, define what metrics should be measured for each social media tactic employed, and ensure all meaningful elements are measured. For instance, if you are using Twitter as a key tool in your strategy, the number of Twitter followers, references to your organization and new followers each week demonstrate awareness growth. Retweets, referrals to your website and donations sourced from Twitter illustrate engagement.
  3. Be realistic in what you want to track. Don't get lost in the data. The metrics are potentially endless and multiply each passing day as new tools are introduced. Rather than trying to measure everything, start small. Begin with measuring the top 10-15 metrics and grow this number as you need to for the number of tools and the complexity of your campaigns. This makes measuring less overwhelming and analysis much more realistic.
  4. Measure actionable items. All the metrics in the world won't do any good if you can't change your actions as a result. Some basic metrics, such as number of Twitter followers or Facebook likes, are not truly actionable, but analyzing trends for noteworthy incidents helps future performance. If you see a spike in followers, reflect on the activity that helped create the boost. If you experience a surge in donations or web traffic, find what messaging was effective and replicate it in the future. If you discover top influencers and advocates, reach out to them for help in future campaigns.
  5. Leverage online tools to track metrics easily. With so many metrics, finding each one can be a time-consuming task. However, with a little insight into readily available online tools such as HootSuite, Social Mention, and Twitalyzer, you can help manage your social campaign calendar (HootSuite), send daily reports of activity (Social Mention), track click-throughs of URLs ( and highlight potential influencers to help spread your cause (Twitalyzer). Don't track each metric individually; use existing tools to help streamline this part of your work.
Regardless of your specific social media strategy, ensuring the right ROI metrics are properly tracked and utilized is a crucial key to success.

Cheryl Black is the Social Media Marketing Specialist for Convio, a leading provider of constituent engagement software for nonprofits. In her role she leads Convio's corporate social media presence, including the Connection Café blog, Convio Facebook page and the Convio Twitter account. When she's not navigating the social media landscape, you can find her spending time with her family, volunteering or eating chips and salsa.

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