April 27, 2009

Mapping your organization’s social media strategy

  • Buffer
  • Buffer

Amy Sample WardI’m here at NTEN’s 09NTC and am going to live blog Beth Kanter’s session on mapping your social media strategy to metrics.  Below is the live blog or the archive of the live blog.  Can’t wait!

The internet connection here is such that I don’t think a live blog portal will sustain itself.  So, I’m going to trouble shoot and just take some live notes here and post them as soon as possible.

Here goes…


  • How to use listening
  • The right metrics
  • Analytics tools


  • Wendy Harmon: social media manager, philosophy is to use social media to execute mission
  • Danielle Brigida: using social media to increase, reach, engagement and revenue
  • Qui Diaz:Livingston, recently did research for the Philanthropy 2.0 report
  • Sarah Granger: advise nonprofits on using social media for advocating and communicating

Themes that people want to learn:

  • new metrics structures can bubble up
  • funders of a 20th century mindset – what metrics speak to them
  • what things need to be measured
  • obama reach vs local reach
  • industry benchmarks
  • how to integrate tools without reinventing the wheel
  • success stories

List, Learn, Adapt – concept from David Armano: “Insight must come before investment when implementing a social media project.”

Visualizing: number of months along the bottom, insight, return and dollars up the left

  • Listening: hearing what people are talking about your issue or sector
  • Learning: evaluating what is being said and what information is needed
  • Adapting: using the listening and learning to inform how you change


  • use monitoring tools
  • know your keywords
  • use your RSS reader
  • engage and monitor responses
  • engage internally


How/why does listening provide value?

  • at ARC, listening has been the core value of our last three year’s of social media (mentioned online over 400 times a day), learn what people want and expect from us
  • at NWF, listening has been the foundation of our social media movement, we are nothing unless someone thinks we are something
  • everything before lays the foundation, everything during and after helps you improve and change your strategy
  • listening has been to the community and to the quantitative results

How do you use a RSS feed like a rockstar?

  • pull in hashtags from Twitter into the RSS reader (pull in the RSS of a search.twitter.com result)
  • skim a lot, mark all as read liberally, don’t feel like i have to ingest everything

Listening based on location?

  • ARC does for blood drives, etc.

How do you share your data?

  • ARC – gather data every morning and share with organization via email; issues that seem sensitive or are newsworthy will contact subject matter experts to follow up
  • ARC – social media team evaluate/watch everything and then send summary and highlights to team
  • NWF – tag mentions in delicious with which programs or projects are mentioned, can share link to that tag on delicious with staff to see their section
  • Sarah – use google alerts and a page that we update with mentions
  • Qui – for clients that are larger, we set up media citation reports (like a word doc with titles and links and relevant info about the mentions and how they should respond)

How much time is spent listening?

  • ARC – 33,000 employees, budget is over a billion $, 2-3 hours of concentrated listening every morning and then ambient listening all day
  • NWF – 363 employees, budget is around 90 million, one hour every morning and then throughout the day (google alerts and rss every morning, then if there is something that happens throughout the day)
  • Livingston – encourage small nonprofits to have at least a half time person doing listening and response (10 hours a week)
  • Sarah – budget is 100,000s, 50% of the time we are listening, 15-20 hours a week personally listening

Listening tools:

  • Netvibes
  • Feed digest


  • Think like a rocket scientist, document or journal your learnings
  • Observe and sift through qualitative data like a primatologist or anthropologist

Beth’s learning process:

  • document on the fly
  • test and teweak
  • pick the right metrics
  • harvest insights
  • look at what other nonprofits are doing in the space
  • pause for reflection time before next reiteration: how to improve results?

Engagement metrics:

  • create
  • comment
  • click
  • collect
  • critic

Think about which things you really need to track and measure those, not everything you could possibly track.


What is your learning process from social media? How do you involve the org?

  • NWF – ad hoc, if you look at programs individually it is based on qualitative over quantitative, we adapt when we hear people saying i wish it was like this or i could do this
  • Livingston – listening is everyone’s job, might start with social media person or dept but eventually want to make sure everyone is out there and closing the feedback loop
  • Sarah – share by email because we are an online organization, can have a spreadsheet with stats and how they are growing, organization wide as well as campaigns, etc.


  • Yammer for internal sharing, it’s a Twitter for groups
  • Delicious

What are some specific stories for using the right metrics:

  • ARC – the right metrics are those that help you identify if you have reached your goals, so if you have a goal to offer real time information to the public in times of disaster for example, the measurement is if peole get the info they need (not fundraising or anything else), so we do that by asking them and collecting metrics like how many people retweet information on Twitter, etc. over time have gotten other metrics and impact from working on this goal
  • NWF – focus on engagement, program called Wildlife Watch and is a space for people to share wildlife they see so asked people to use #nwf on twitter when they see wildlife, will track how many times the hashtag is used each day (hashtags.org) we use bit.ly and pop.url for tracking retweets (Check out Laura Lee Dooley’s URL shortener report!)
  • Livingston – corporate example, Network Solutions, negative perseption issues related to their brand (google your organization’s name and “sucks” and see what comes up!), assessed the conversation and they had a 58% negative blog/conversation ratio (used manual researching, icerocket, forumtracker, search.twitter, etc.), new that was the metric/goal to track and 6 months later there was only 18% negative ratio
  • Sarah – presidential commition on women in legisltation, legislator read our email wanted to do it and wrote a bill, so to raise awareness and support we asked people in membership what they wanted to see, asked them to come to us, gave qualitative feedback, had a tweetcast with feedback on Twitter, used facebook and tracking membership and

WeAreMedia Project (http://wearemedia.org/) has a listening toolbox!

Distinction between what you think they want to hear and what they want to know – can you address those separately?

  • Livingston – HHS, wanted evaluation of pandemic flu conversation online, point was to understand what they were saying about the government and so on to really know what to address as an organization to that community

Culture change:

  • NWF – social media is good for engagement but not always the engagement you expect, users on myspace and did a survey with all the members but only 400 responded and the boss wanted to discontinue social media work; don’t always need to hear what every person needs if you have that one person who will really tell  you useful things; there’s still community on myspace so we still update that blog and use the platform
  • Sarah – a lot of resistance to social media in political groups, the key is biting off small pieces and educating people one at a time, finding someone to train and working with them so that they can educate another person
  • organizational change is slow, you have to have patience, opinion starts to change once you find influencers within

Nonprofit staff are so overwhelmed, how many groups have someone to measure social media?

  • survey in room: most prevalent is 20 hours/week with other job duties

Co-creation Networks, look at the ladder of engagement and the number of use and the level of engagement – need all of them in your ecosystem

Clicking = good – a change in knowledge doesn’t equal a change in behavior; can you measure that?

  • NWF – greenhour.org so we share it with people in a newsletter and then see activity in a blog – we can’t see that they really did it in their home, it is hard to measure, but we are still seeing what seems to be real actions – don’t be afraid to ask!

Are there ways of catching offline datapoints?

  • NWF – every program we have has an offline component, i try to integrate a social media strategy that leverages and encourages the offline part; like #nwf wildlife watch, raises your awareness offline if you can see something and tweet it, etc.
  • ARC – it’s easier for us to suck in what people are already doing because we have found that it’s nearly 100% chance for people to give blood and then talk about it online if they have a space online
  • Livingston – if you don’t have their email, call them, keep asking questions but it is labor intensive


Fail formally – protesting Wendy’s with a photo sharing with a protest sign but only got a few people doing it, heard so much about how hard it was for people to participate, etc. but didn’t stop doing photo contests; instead they adapted.  next, with LOLseals campaign, they made it as easy as possible for people to participate, used the Flickr API to allow people to upload from their website instead of going to Flickr, etc. this time they got 3,000 photos and 2,500 email address.  But don’t do it again just because it worked, keep evolving. Facebook app for spay day, upload a photo of your pet and then do fundraising for the Human Society with people voting on your pet’s animal. 13,000 installs of the facebook app, and $600,000 raised.


How have you reiterated?

  • Livingston – Network Solutions, free online video event, know who will send the most traffic second time around
  • NWF – we are still very new at this, there haven’t been a lot of programs, the photo contest is slowly moving online; we tweak all the time though, you can’t be satisfied because you can always make it better, like with #nwf as it got more participation we moved the stream onto our website
  • ARC – we have very few campaigns like Carrie’s at HSUS, but we tweak constantly, today everything is 100% different than a year ago but it was all very small tiny changes
  • HSUS – integrated it with everything else, email campaigns/newsletters, offline, etc.

Any resources to move from national to local?

  • ARC – we are set up similarly, Robin Parker does Oregon Trail chapter for example

How do you change around from failure?

  • NWF – there is no failure. everything can be taken to scale. you have to learn from everything, if it doesn’t work one time it could still work another time. have to decide if it is worth investing in.

Have you seen examples of your org changing?

  • NWF – initially i was the outcast, driving traffic but being sneaky; you need buy in to really do it. for some people it’s intuitive but others it isn’t. we had a COO who noticed social media was important and moved me to the education dept, if you are in marketing and someone says not to do it, keep doing it! i have changed my role a bit so that i serve as a consultant internally to get people started. i don’t want to force people, if they don’t want to do it, then they don’t have to.  if it isn’t natural then it won’t work.
  • Sarah – worked with a tech oriented nonprofit, had an old tech faction and the new tech faction; eventually we just got new people on and they wanted new, too so you just move on.
  • Beth – learning a lot from resisters now and strategies for it. have to have bottom up way of organizing social media but also evolve into a star fruit so that it goes all directions.

What is your ONE takeaway?

  • be more intentional
  • failure is adapting
  • tools in context
  • when you miss in battleship you take another shot
  • want to embrace failure
  • all about relationships
  • delicate balance between involvement and take over
  • take chances
  • they can’t control people when they are taking part
  • metrics spring from your goals
  • listen more
  • even one voice can give you great insight
  • if you are really interested in this stuff and you see the opportunity at your organization, just try it and see what happens
  • metrics bubble up
  • even if people say the same thing loudly doesn’t mean the minority isn’t speaking too
  • reminder to talk to each other


This post originally appeared at Amy Sample Ward’s Version of NPTech.Amy Sample Ward connects nonprofits with new media technologies. See her business profile, contact Amy or leave a comment.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email