Make Social Media Matter More: Part 1

Flickr: Kevin Dooley Pressure. You feel it. I feel it. The pressure to generate social media miracles.

It’s still there, even this many years in. And whether the source (that you’re keeping up, have a billion Facebook likes or Twitter followers, or your Instagram strategy is driving action) is your boss, board chair and/or your colleague in programs, it’s a problem.

Here’s Your Solution

Start by reviewing the Pew Foundation’s recent Social Media report (great summary here). Objective research is the most powerful tool you have to make your case (take that, “pressurizer”). Follow with these four steps to get the social media monkey off of your back:

  1. Get to know your people. Pew tells us that more older adults are on social media than ever before, especially Facebook, while younger adults 18-29 are visual platforms like Instagram. It’s time to learn where your supporters are social media wise. Follow John Haydon’s step-by-step directions to find which of your donors, subscribers, and volunteers use Facebook. For insights on other social media platforms, use an online survey or ask folks during calls you make for other reasons. Log and share your findings (and responses) with colleagues.
  2. Use supporter insights to project where prospects are social media-wise. Review your marketing plan to focus in on your primary prospects  (start with the people who are most likely to take the actions that will drive your marketing goals forward). Then use what you know about current supporters  to project where similar prospect groups are on social media.
  3. Assess if and where to invest in social media (even if your organization has been there for years). Probe whether the most-used social media channels are useful to help you achieve your broader goals. Use Pew’s finding that 52% of online adults use multiple social networks as a frame for your assessment, and ask yourself 1) Does the kind of interaction in that channel mesh with your calls to action and goals; and 2) Is your investment in each of the most-used channels likely to be profitable?
  4. Focus your energy and time on the SINGLE most-used channel, but only if the return on investment (ROI) is there. Use doesn’t mean value to your organization. It’s near impossible to drive actions on Facebook without paying for advertising at this point, but even Facebook ads aren’t driving the kind of return you want.

Note: It’s going to be far more effective to use one platform well, rather than use multiple platforms in a half-baked way. That’s been proven time and time again. Be ruthless!

More to come very soon!

Nancy Schwartz on January 27, 2015 in Social Media | 6 comments

  • Chris Syme

    Good stuff–you nailed the real problem in the first paragraph: people mistakenly believe that social media will generate miracles. Those are the same people that don’t understand it’s just another marketing tool and needs to be treated as such. I would disagree with you on one point–I’m not a fan of the “one channel only” philosophy right now because Facebook is the only one that has the demographic reach you need to be effective with that philosophy. It’s also the channel with the worst engagement rates at present. I think you have to be innovative to stay ahead of the curve. Most social media managers I know are capable of putting good content on more than one channel but they are doing that strategically. The biggest mistake I see people making on social media is expecting a return (ROI) where they haven’t made an investment. And that includes strategic planning with measurable objectives based on a good understanding of content marketing.

  • Chris, thanks for your thoughtful additions here. I know exactly what you’re saying with “one is not enough” for a social media tool. But so many orgs totally flop social media wise because they don’t have/invest the bandwidth to do more than one (if that).

    Any ideas for generating the right kind of support ($ and human resource) for “enough” investment social media wise?

  • Chris Syme

    Boy–is that a great question–maybe the million dollar question. I have a couple quick thoughts. Set your $$ budget for social promotions and allocate on a priority basis that will help you reach objectives/measurements of a particular campaign. If you don’t have a concrete objective the ad is designed to reach, don’t use ads. Many people fail because they are shooting in the dark or trying to copy someone else’s success. If nonprofits use a straight ROI measurement as businesses do based on costs to $$ returns, ROI will always fail. If that’s the measurement EDs want to see, I’d say don’t allocate money for social media promotions. And you don’t have to be successful. I’d allocate those $$ for investments like social media management systems (Hootsuite, Sprout Social, etc) or extra help. When it comes to intangible investments, that is a huge discussion that I think is based on culture and priorities of the organization. Because I rarely make decisions w/o data, I always think the primary investment has to be in a strategic marketing plan that has measurable outcomes and audience research–neither of which needs $$ but does need people. That is where a lot of the human resources go–planning and implementing. Along with that, I think measurement and analytics need to be understood and implemented correctly. A lot of people measure likes, shares, and comments as the prime indicator of engagement, but that’s only a valid measurement if reach is your goal. The best book I’ve read in the near past on the subject was Beth Kanter & K.D. Paine’s Measuring The Networked Nonprofit. My favorite takeaway from the book is “Having a social media measurement plan and approach can no longer be an after-thought. It is a requirement of success.” In a nutshell…invest in the right goals & objectives first, and you’ll know if you’re getting the right return.

  • Thanks so much, Chris, for sharing your process, wisdom and fav resources! With you on the strategic marketing plan.

  • Great article and discussion. The days of Facebook generating a miracle are over and getting leadership to understand that is an issue. Metrics can back it up. Onward and upward and investing in a social media strategy is very important.

  • Thanks, Deborah. Any tips or best practices to add here? We’re so much smarter together!

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