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Measuring YOUR Networked Nonprofit: Beth Kanter's Wisdom

Pyramid recently hosted nonprofit marketing social media author/expert Beth Kanter (Twitter account: @kanter ) as part of her two day Seattle speaking tour.  If anyone in the audience of folks from organizations like Sightline, KEXP, Wing Luke Museum, University of Washington College of the Environment, and Team Up for Nonprofits, had been previously unclear, they left convinced that social media measurement has a key place in any organization. And, on that point, Beth emphasized that a "one size fits all" measurement standard was not possible. Instead, the data points any organization might zero in on will be completely unique to their very specific goals. When our too-quick hour with Beth was up, we all knew that the sooner we got to measuring, the better!

Following are a few of the points Beth covered (with related short audio clips from her presentation and mention of other related resources, where applicable):

Crawl, Walk, Run… Fly

Being data informed, and not solely data-driven, will bring any organization from their Crawl or Walk stages toward the Run and Fly stages of integrated social media fluency for overall audience engagement and motivating effectiveness. To put it briefly:

  • At a Crawl, an organization may collect data, but do no formal reporting, there are no dashboards or systems in place and decisions all passion driven.
  • At a Walk, an organization regularly collects data but without consistency. The data gathering is not intelligent, but is focused on social media metrics (likes! Follows!) without being linked to high-level organizational goals.
  • At a Run, there is an organization-wide system and dashboard for collecting measurement data. Teams make decisions, across communication channels and from multiple sources as opposed to a single piece of data or intuition.
  • At a Fly, the organization has established key performance indicators (KPI) and has empowered staff members (not just one) to check and apply their own data, the dashboard is shared across departments and failures are embraced as learning opportunities.

See also:  Measuring the Networked Nonprofit, Chapter Three.

Learning from a Social Media Nosedive

Beth candidly shared a recent experience when life got in the way and she had to go completely offline for a few days. She saw her numbers drop significantly, which was a bit unnerving. However, the discussion and content that ensued were worth the scary nosedive!

Failure is not an F-Word

Beth emphasized the entrepreneur's concept of “front loading” failure as a great way to test and use measurement toward continual improvement.  Think about the small losses you can afford to make in your social media learning process. The goal is to bring your entire organization to a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset.

See also: Beth’s blog post on embracing failure (including the video that inspired her).

Those of us who attended Beth’s presentation at Pyramid, or one of the other events during her Seattle visit, learned that there are many ways to measure value of social media efforts beyond the objective or easy to quantify. Some ideas for value gained include:

  • The value of a listening tool. How else could you begin to test messages, direction, voice of overall communications efforts on a real-time basis. Put up a post, get no engagement – and see that not as a fail, but as incredibly valuable input!
  • The value of an event follow-up tool. Take Beth’s Seattle visit (#KanterSEA), for instance. Between her own posts and sharing of video, tweets and other interactions, through all that her various audiences during her two days here, the buzz and information shared was incredible. If you were on Twitter during that time, and keeping even one eye on nonprofit discussions, you could not have missed it. The bonus is that there are now all sorts of content to link to or share that will serve as a nonprofit social media resource forever.
  • The value of an awareness-building tool. If your organization participated in even one of the #KanterSEA events and shared via social channels, you likely have a few more followers in the nonprofit community (which is quantifiable), but you definitely have more people tying your name to the Seattle area nonprofit community by virtue of just being seen in the conversation.

To paraphrase Beth: measurement is powerful because it generates excitement for your mission and helps you change the world (among many other things). If you make the effort to learn from her blog, books and presentations, you will become more engaged, more inspired and more motivated to dive into social media and measurement for your causes. We certainly have.  

(If you like to learn more about events like this and read our ideas and news in the future, please follow  Pyramid on Twitter and Facebook.  We share a lot of great resources, blog posts and information that way.)

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The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily state or reflect the views of Pyramid Communications.