Hajrë Hyseni, Once You Start Dancing Blog
Last night when I was madly screencasting after midnight for Cambodian Bloggers Workshop, "Five Steps To Khmer 2.0," Nancy White pinged me about remixing the social media game. So, I was thinking about Nancy and the way she has welcomed new readers on her blog. Well, maybe Harje is not a new reader, but he is a new commenter.
And while I looking at the post about social networking sites in campaign, it gave me an opportunity to point over to FrogLoop's ROI Social Networking Campaign Calculator. I wanted to capture some of the discussion threads for a workshop I have in development for November.
From talking about this last week, the biggest question this has stuck with me is how relevant ROI is for judging the value of a tactic that might serve goals other than fundraising.
Is it irresponsible of me to spend ANY staff time on social networks? These calculations say it is, but strategic interests that aren't meausured in dollars raised pull in a different direction.
So I'm really curious about how many folks in this field are measured on goals other than raising money. Thoughts?
I think this ROI calculator is a great means for getting down to the brass tacks of $$$-value that social networks generate per person-hour invested in them. Quantitatively, that's worth quite a bit as no one has been able to calculate this metric so thoroughly before. Job well done!
The metric boils down to cost per action as applied to advocacy or outreach (branding, education, etc) campaigns. And in response to the question of "intangible value," I think it's about being able to access as many people as possible when your version of a Katrina hits or you have a window of opportunity where the issue you're working on hits the headlines.
However, when you go to analyze the cost of acquisition for supporters, it's worth asking the question as to where you'll get the biggest bang for your dollar. Best practices to date indicate that's via email, both in acquisition and in response. Hopefully others will chime in on this point with their own experiences from adventures in social networks.
Have you done this analysis on other tactics, I'm thinking Internet advertising for one.
I know ROI is important, but you do think the numbers alone can guide the decision. How do you factor in the potential benefit/value of the other strategic issues you mention at the end?
I'm working on the other analyses, too! I don't think ROI is the only factor, but I think it's important for people to have a realistic way to compare with other options at their disposal before jumping in with both feet. By breaking down to common metrics, development and advocacy and communications folks can compare with their cost for building a constituent base using other means. My mantra is to "be everywhere, but prioritize."
Social networks appear to be "free", but if you think about social networks as a microcosm of the broader world wide web (I haven't said that for years), the same rules, for the most part, apply. A lot of it comes down to a numbers game. It takes a lot of work to build a quality audience. It's really not that different from building an email list, except that it's a little easier for information to spread in fun and unexpected ways, and you can choose, more or less, who joins your list.
We saw people using Care2's social network to raise money during Katrina, and if the social network weren't in place, that self-organizing phenomenon couldn't have happened as easily. However, in the day to day, I have only seen a couple of examples of really successful nonprofit campaigns in social networks that have converted to "value" as measured by our current paradigm of what is valuable to nonprofits. I would love to see more success stories -- post 'em here!
My question to Justin is: "How can you take this ROI or measuring approach and jump in with one foot? A proof of concept or pilot and than use that learning to jump in with two feet?"
Back to SalesForce and Cambodia work.