The following is from an NTC 08 Panel called "Social Media ROI Case Study Slam" that I designed and facilitated at NTC. Here are Eve's slides and her notes.
Hi, I'm Eve Smith, Assistant Director of Interactive Marketing at Easter Seals. I manage our online fundraising campaigns and integrated projects to attract new supporters and donors.
I’m going to share with you what we learned from participating in the recent Facebook Causes Challenge – as I was telling my colleagues before coming to NTEN, this is my “do as I say, not as I do” presentation.
Many of you may have heard of Easter Seals – we’ve been around for nearly 90 years providing help, hope and answers to children and adults with autism and other disabilities and support to the families who love them. We have a network of 80 affiliates in the United States, Puerto Rico and Australia.
When you think of Easter Seals, you may not immediately think of us on Facebook. But we’re there.
Like many of you, we learned about the Case Foundation's Giving Challenges when they were announced in December of this past year. There were 2 challenge competitions -- one with Parade Magazine and the other with Facebook Causes. Both competitions were based on attracting the most unique donors to your cause. The competitions ran from December to February.
We decided to test the waters and participate in the Facebook Causes Challenge. We thought this would be a good way to learn more about Facebook and the community.
We already had a Facebook fan page and a few causes, and we were eager to do more.
This seemed like a good opportunity. And we learned many valuable lessons along the way.
Our goals were pretty simple –
We wanted to identifying and get to know Facebook users who have an affinity with autism – We know they’ll be more likely to become our supporters and donors.
We wanted to see how well known the Easter Seals brand was in Facebook. And, we wanted to gather friends to build our cause and presence in Facebook for future messaging.
Let me just save you all the trouble in the future -- don't ever pick the last few days of a $50K challenge to compete for the daily challenge! The top fundraising orgs going for the $50K grand prize were driving up the daily totals to numbers we couldn’t compete with.
Seems so obvious now, right, to not pick the last week of the contest for our push?
Learn from our mistake!
We published a post on our public autism blog -- they’re an audience more likely to join the cause.
Because of the tight timeframe, we decided to not solicit our house email list or engage our affiliates. We wanted to keep this a small experiment – we were really testing the concept more than anything else.
And, we know that our house file responds to email over about a three day period, so the single day challenge would have been over by the time many looked at their email.
We personally thanked supporters. But not as much as we should have – the groups who were really successful in the Challenge poked, prodded and motivated their supporters constantly, asking them to reach out to new people.
I estimate we spent about 8 hours in prep for the Cause, and about another 4-6 hours executing the campaign, responding and sending emails.
And based on the results, clearly that wasn’t enough. The results were, frankly, pretty dismal … We didn’t reach our goals or come close.
And we didn’t set a goal for gathering new friends, but we had 68 people join by the end of the 24 hour period which made us happy.
But … based on our experience, we’re on the new measurement train … and have a new way of measuring our effectiveness for these types of experiments.
For example, our Shine the Light on Autism Facebook cause keeps growing and attracting friends, even with little activity on our part. We're up to 163 members. The topic of autism has “stickiness” in Facebook and that’s a good thing for us because we’re launching a new campaign this month.
We’re also in this for the long haul – we’re not just looking for supporters for a day or a month. We want to engage with people for a long time.
We definitely learned some valuable lessons from the Facebook Causes Challenge.
One was we choose the wrong date. Clearly that was an oops.
Second, we learned it was really hard to carve out time from our very full schedules to take on this type of outreach. It was much more of a deep dive, then a toe dip, for sure.
Overall, that’s our big takeaway -- we learned that small experiments like the Facebook Causes challenge really do add up.
We're much better equipped to move ahead with a Facebook strategy than before the challenge.
We understand that its going to take a larger commitment of staff time and resources.
And that we know we weigh the risks and rewards about future experiments.
… So Whether you deep dive or just dip your toe, go ahead and test the water. I think you’ll find it’s just fine…
This is my contact information and I’d be happy to talk more about our work in Facebook and other social networks, and share what we’re learning to do, and not to do.