If you operate a non-profit organization you understand immediately the importance of earning a return on every investment you make. If you can find a tool that is free to use, you use it, and you rely on volunteer labor whenever possible. These two things combined make social media a great tool to help you leverage results.
Free To Succeed
Social media tools are mostly free to use. That means if you can make a dollar from Facebook, that’s a 100 percent return on your investment. You might make a great deal more than this, or you might make a great deal less. It all depends on how committed you are to succeed. But considering the low up-front investment cost, social media is a very attractive alternative to traditional marketing methods. Non-profit groups understand this and that is why they have been flocking to social media networks in droves.
Having a new fan on Facebook is not necessarily the same as having a new donor or volunteer. True engagement with your nonprofit is about activating your social media network to take the next steps: engage, volunteer, give. For example, there are literally hundreds of Facebook pages, many with thousands of Likes – focused on the troubled Darfur region of Sudan. But how many of these people can articulate the problems in Darfur? Connecting on social media is often just a first step. The key to success is moving those fans to action.
Unfortunately, tracing social media connections to determine your organization’s ROI is a bit tricky. You can draw correlations, but it is hard to connect the dots between an increased social media presence and improved donations. Consider this analysis of last year’s Old Spice campaign by Jacquie McCarnan. She concludes that increases in followers and visitors to Old Spice’s Twitter, YouTube and Facebook pages explain increased sales – but she neglects to consider the impact that television and print ads had on this revenue stream. (I bought Old Spice body wash too after seeing these commercials, but never once went to any of the company’s social media pages. I just thought the commercials were funny.)
According to Mark Ritson in Marketing Week, analyses like the one by McCarnan distract from proven effective methods of marketing. He argues that “too many marketers have forgotten that if you cannot demonstrate ROI you should not be committing your organisation’s money to it.” For many organizations, this appears to be the case. In a recent survey by Econsultancy, 47 percent of the companies surveyed in the report indicated that “they are unable to measure results from their social media activity.” If for-profit companies with ample financial resources cannot measure social media ROI, it is likely that many nonprofits face a similar quandary.
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