Winning the Internet

New media: Think IMPACT, not size

I love to play the slots on social networks. All it takes is coming up with something timely, juicy or clever (not always easy…), posting it to Twitter, Facebook, Stumbleupon or other platforms and then watching how many likes, shares, re-tweets, clicks or other responses I get. (Ta da. They really like me!)

But in the bigger scheme of things the numbers really don’t mean that much. (Damn.) When it comes to new media, it’s not just size that matters. Think: impact.

So the first step is figuring out where you’re going. Can you answer these questions: Why? What for? What’s the result you want to achieve?

What’s most important for any campaign or project is to first clearly define your goal(s).

JD Lasica’s post on measuring success includes a list of possible goals. Here are some examples:

• Move people to take a specific action, like signing a petition
• Turn supporters into volunteers
• Increase sale of a product or service
• Build visibility and authority for your brand or cause
• Solicit micro-loans
• Spur people to register to attend an event
• Change a law or policy

Once you’ve decided what you want to achieve you can pick the channels that will help you get there. Want to raise money? Probably not going to happen on Facebook. Check out Raven Brooks’ post for more on that. Want to drive traffic to your website? Stumbleupon may be a good choice. Gigaom has some interesting stats on that. Want to find out what Twitter can do for your organization? Check out these best practices from Diosa Communications.

You’ll also need to MEASURE how you’re doing, to track your progress over time. A couple of reasons why measurement and metrics are so important:

1. They keep you focused on your goals.
2. They give you real time feedback on your progress.
3. They allow you to change course, if that’s what’s needed.

In doing so, consider the following:

Cost = time + money: What did you put into it?

Results = measurable impacts: Did you change a law? Raise money? Become the go-to resource on an issue?

There is lots of information on social media metrics in Beth Kanter’s wikispace. The truth is: you don’t really have time NOT to measure. (ie. If you think it’s working, prove it.)

Remember: if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably not going to get there. And if you don’t track your progress over time, you won’t know what’s working. So start with impact. Then you can play the slots.


About Liza Pike

I'm the founder of New Media Mentors, a hands on learning program to help non profits use social media and online organizing tools effectively.