Have you heard of the carpenter’s saying ‘measure twice, cut once’? If you have, you’ll appreciate the value of that wisdom if you are building a house.
In today’s ever changing communication landscape, you should liken your social media efforts to building a house. You’ll create your blueprint (social, web, mobile, etc), amass your tools (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Flickr, YouTube and FourSquare), and finally, bring your rulers and leveler (outcome and output measurements).
Many of us who utilize social media are well versed in our tools and blueprint but we often fail to measure our results – or if we do, we stick strictly to outputs.
By definition, output measurements measure those that are tangible and concrete; things like Twitter followers, Facebook likes, etc. It’s very easy to rest on those laurels when reporting social media success.
But social media is about engagement. How do you measure that?
Start by determining a few key outcome measurements that will speak to success. Outcome measures are harder to identify, which is why most of us don’t bother; but they help to identify and quantify change.
For example, if you are conducting an advocacy campaign, you shouldn’t limit yourself to the number Twitter followers that your organization has (output). Instead, determine an outcome measurement that clearly identifies ‘change’ like click-throughs on a specific link that sends emails sent to legislators about your campaign.
If you haven’t explored ways to measure outcomes, take a look at the ‘social engagement’ tool in your Google Analytics account or the ‘reach’ tool in your Facebook fan page’s Insights.
For even more detailed information (and fancy charts), try a paid social media aggregator like SproutSocial or HootSuite. Both tools are affordable options for nonprofits or consultants and can help you measure effectively.
(See image above from SproutSocial – reporting period Jan 1-31, 2012 from @thefriendrasier’s Twitter account.)
Being armed with two forms of measurements will help you determine real social media success in current campaigns as well as update your blueprint for future campaigns.
Well, what are you waiting for? Get out there and start building!
(Cross-posted @ the art of friendraising.)