Social Media Metrics: Tips for Non-profits

Nicole Schmidt    November 6, 2013

Social media metrics refers to the kinds of measurements that can take place on the social Web. Beyond traditional metrics like traffic and return visits to your website, social media metrics take into account this simple fact: Most people are talking about your brands in all sorts of venues — social networks, blogs, forums, YouTube — well beyond your organization’s site.”


Organizations recognize social media metrics as a significant tool that can be used to track the progress and effectiveness of their social media campaign; it is the how, why and what that is measured which often leaves them stuck in the mud.

Katie Paine, author of “Complete How-To Guide to Measuring Social Media,” outlines six steps to help organizations approach social media campaigns and the measurement of their success:

  1. Set your objectives
  2. Define your stakeholders
  3. Determine which metrics to use
  4. Benchmark against yourself over time or your competition
  5. Pick your measurement tool/technology
  6. Analyze the results and start over

Social Media Metrics for Non-profit Organizations

Social media for non profits

Social media is one of several channels that non-profits use to connect with constituents, build community, and mobilize people to work towards the organizations goals. Social media metrics can be used as a tool to help measure the success of these social platforms.

JD Lasica’s article, “How to measure your nonprofit’s social media success,” suggests first defining the goals of the campaign and then creating a list of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to assess if you are effectively meeting the goals.

“For instance, if you want to grow your list of supporters, you’ll be able to measure the number of newsletter or RSS subscribers. If you want more interactivity on your blog, you can measure the average number of comments that people post.”

Allison Kapin’s, “The New War on Social Media Vanity Metrics,” outlines that when analyzing data, non-profit organizations need to look at:

  •  Are people taking action on your issues?
  •  Are people signing up to volunteer?
  • Are people sharing your content with their friends and inspiring them to get involved with your organization?
  • Are you developing strong enough relationships where you can cultivate these people and turn them into donors down the road?

The suggested tools for data collection are to first, track the conversations yourself to better understand the perception of your organization amongst the social community. “What are people saying to you on social media channels? Is it positive? Is it hostile? Is it neutral? Who is saying these things? Your constituents? Trolls? Bloggers? Track these conversations each week and put them in a spreadsheet; this will allow you to track your growth over time. You will also be able to clearly see what is not working and address it head on.”

Other tools such as Google Analytics and Sysomos, an analytics system that captures organizational mentions in online media and blogs, and on social media networks, can also be used for data collection.

Kapin advises non-profits to “not be so obsessed with numbers” of followers/fan count, while it means that word is spreading, “its about quality not quantity. ” Kapin states, “It’s much better to have 5,000 committed people on Facebook who want to help  your organization meet your mission, take action, volunteer, or donate money  than 50,000 people who just “Liked” you on FB but really aren’t interested or  invested in your organization.”

While analyzing social media data, non-profit organizations are advised to focus on target audiences, engagement that connects to mission, commitment, conversion rates, influence and trust. “These are the metrics that should resonate with senior leadership a lot more,  because ultimately you are showing them a return on investment that is equal to your organization’s actual impact.”

Lessons for Others

-Plan, prepare and plan some more! In order to measure, and ultimately achieve, the goals of a social media campaign, they must first be identified.

-Focus on your goals and then use social media metrics as a tool to measure their success in the world of social media.

-Don’t obsess over the numbers, it is about quality not quantity for non-profits! It’s the relationship you have with the audience and how willing they are to be involved in helping your organization achieve it’s goals and/or mission.


JD Lasica: Getting started with social media metrics

Katie Paine: Complete How-To Guide to Measuring Social Media

JD Lasica: How to measure your nonprofit’s social media success

Allison Kapin: The New War on Social Media Vanity Metrics

Submitted by: Nicole Schmidt – SMBP Student, University of Waterloo.

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