The key to success in social media is to leave room for reflection at the end of a project. Reflection gives you a chance to understand what worked and what didn't. You need metrics to measure against goals, but you also need harvest those insights. I do this with every social media activity as well as whenever I teach.
With that said, it is hard to do when you have a big, hairy to do list breathing down your neck. It's hard to do when you get pulled in to the fast moving, forward current of Twitter or when you're chipping away to get your email in box down to zero.
But how to shift from the frenetic pace of getting things done to giving yourself time to think and improve what you're doing. That was the reason for the eating chocolate exercise I did in PoST class on Monday. The exercise is intended to help you slow down, be in the moment, and shift you into a reflective mindset or at least feel what it is like. The exercise is simple - take five minutes to eat a hershey's kiss and notice everything about the experience.
Chocolate activates the pleasure center of the brain, at least according to some research. I asked the students what else does that? After a nervous giggle, I shared with them that donating and volunteering does the same thing as chocolate to your brain.
My challenge was to get into a reflective mindset about this birthday campaign. I did not eat chocolate. I listened to music to get into a meditative state. You need to find what works for you to shift you into that mindset.
This post harvests what I learned and what I still don't know about the birthday campaign strategy and measurement as well as guest teaching a graduate school class.
1.) Setting the Right Dollar Goal
My 53rd birthday wish was to raise money for the Sharing Foundation to send 53 Cambodian Youngsters to school by covering the cost of their uniforms ($10 per child or $530). We crushed that goal and raised $5,010 because of your generosity in donating and calling attention to the birthday wish. That means 501 youngsters will be able to attend school in Cambodia and hopefully, fine, a route out of poverty.
Kami Huyse Watson, my colleague at Zoetica, suggested the goal was too low and I should have aimed for $5,300. And, the low goal was one of the reasons that community rallied with the self-organized surprise party. But another reason I set that low goal was because the Causes birthday wish software did not give me the flexibility of setting a goal without attaching it to a gift amount and number of donors. The highest I could make it was $530 (10 gifts of $53)
I went with it anyway because this campaign was much a shorter duration than last year's birthday campaign where I raised $6,000. This campaign was 5 days versus 14 days and I spent much less time implementing, so while the total is less, presumably my ROI is higher.
I remember talking with Stacey Monk on the phone last November about how difficult it is to set goals for social media infused fundraising campaigns. She didn't set a specific dollar goal, but stages of goals and that were integrated into the platform. I did this, but because I was using Causes, it was not integrated into the platform. I did this by adding a match - I'd donate $10 for each year if the Sharing Foundation's Cause reached $25,000 - which it did.
One lesson is that if your fundraising platform doesn't allow this flexibility, don't use it. Or maybe Causes will improve the goal setting feature. And, if you are an individual or a small organization without $ resources or access to technical expertise to set up your own platform, you have some tradeoffs to ponder.
2.) Understand Your Theory of Change As It Applies to Donations
Enrique Allen, the teaching assistant for the PoST class, Social entrepreneur and Stanford Persuasive Tech Lab Researcher (and one smart dude who generously shares what he knows), created a drawing on the whiteboard that mapped out the my campaign in the context of a behavior change model. In order for someone to make a donation, three things are required: motivation, ability, and trigger. It blew me away. I quickly took photos and did a fast video of him explaining it. What I'd love to have is a worksheet to use for my next campaign. Hmm.
3.) You Can't Measure Love or Creativity, But These Are Essential Online Community or Network Signs of Life
Amy Sample Ward and Stacey Monk did plan and execute one hell of a surprise party! In a google document, some how they put the word out and 66 people signed up to blog and tweet about the birthday wish propelling its success! But they also asked to share how I've impacted their work, and by pointing that out created a very meaningful birthday gift.
As I read through the post (I'm not yet finished leaving personal thank you comments yet, I will), I was at the point of tears because of the love and support I've gotten from peers and colleagues - and even consequential strangers. You can't quantify love as a metric, but it is important sign or signal of life in your online community.
So is creativity. The array of creative ways that people wished me a happy birthday was very inspiring to me. Self-expression is such a powerful thing to see and having people articulate it for your cause is the holy grail. Donna Arraiga whipped me up a Khmer Dessert on her food blog, Eddie Harran sent me virtual tim-tams from Australia. Debra Askanase gave me a terrific piece on reasons to read my blog which I've linked on my side bar. Michaela Hackner's cute dog, Atlas, a bark and paw shake to the Cute Dog Theory.
Paul Lamb re-purposed the lyrics to a famous Beatle's Tune as a birthday song. Can you guess the song?
When I get older suffering from Carpal tunnel ,
Many days from now,
Will you still be so kind
Supporting my Facebook Causes all the time?
If I'd been blogging till quarter to three
Would you still respond,
Will you still need me, will you still Tweet me,
When you’re fifty three?
4.) Real Time Tracking, Real Time Network Weaving
I've talked a lot about the importance of real-time tracking of your campaign while it is unfolding. You reflect in real-time, observe, tweak and adjust. For example, I noticed that Spencer Brodsky, who I helped last December when he was doing a fundraiser campaign for his project in Rwanda, re-tweeting the birthday call to action. So, I encouraged him to help me with reaching my influencers on Twitter - that I learned about from Eric Peterson.
I also realized the opportunities for real time network weaving as the campaign is unfolding. I've learned so much the past few months from the master of network weaving, June Holley and Christine Egger. But networking in real time has to be supported by developing relationships over the long haul. In reading the posts, it struck me a lot of these relationships are not transactional, but deeper. Jean Russell has a great post on some simple ways to do real time network weaving.
I didn't realize how many people I had connected with over the years through social media and how much reciprocity there is. I pointed to a lot of posts in my thank you note immediately after the event, but want to pick out a few more posts that contain a wealth of information about relationship building on the social web. Some are people I've known for many years, some are people I've just met in the last few weeks.
5.) Design for People To Self Organize
One of the big surprises for me was the surprise party. Amy Sample Ward wrote a reflection on crowdsourcing a surprise party! It has made me curious about how you design a campaign or social action for self-organization. Maybe it is just a guiding principle.
Certainly, there are some areas where you can be intentional about it - for example, in your choice of software and how it is designed. For example, the google document served a quick wiki - it was simple, not over built and easy to participate. Also, the fact that Amy Sample Ward and Stacey Monk asked people to ask others, using a networked approach to organizing this party.
6.) Measure the Whole Funnel
This is perhaps, the most important learning for me. Enrique Allen asked me what I call a "teachable moment question" during the class. "Should you send people in the tweet to the donation form or to page describing why to donate?" I angsted over that question while I was setting it up. When I posted my lesson plan, I asked Sean Power about measuring conversion and he pointed me to an awesome slide deck that he and Alistair Croll created.
I adapted above funnel framework from one his diagrams. I shared what I was measuring with the class and asked them what was missing. CONVERSION!
Why wasn't I measuring conversion - you know the people who click from the Tweet to donation landing page and actually make a donation. The reason I can't track these metrics is because the donation landing page was not in my control - it was from the Causes application. So, yet another reason to think carefully about features in your donation platform and the ability to capture important metrics.
Here's what I did measure:
- 475 Tweets w/Hashtag by 261 contributors via What The HashTag
- 2047 Clicks http://bit.ly/beth53 (call to action, linked to the FB Causes Birthday Wish)
40% new donors
8% increase in new Cause members
Here's what I wasn't able to measure:
- Views on Facebook Causes Birthday Wish Landing Page
- Total unique impressions (the unique number of Twitter users who saw the retweets - that is the unique number of the combined number of Twitter followers for the above 475 Tweets). I know that this is possible using the API as per Julio, but I don't know how to do it technically.
- The number/percentage of donors who clicked through from Twitter and made a donation
- The number/percentage of donors who clicked through from blog post and made a donation
- The number/percentage of donors who clicked through from seeing it on Facebook/Causes and made a donation
I know this would not be accurate, but what if I said that given 2047 clicks on the donation landing page and a total of 145 donors, the conversion rate would be 7%. I, of course, don't have anything to compare it to - other campaigns I've run, other nonprofit campaigns, or some sort of industry benchmarks. Not to mention that the way the number was derived is bogus.
Metrics and measurement gurus, what do you think?
7.) More Time Thanking, Than Asking
This is the first fundraiser where I spent more time thanking than I did asking. I'm not sure what that means, but I think it is something positive.
Some Quick Reflections on Instruction
I was honored to be included in the line up of for the invited guests, The Power of Social Technology Class is a graduate course, at Stanford Business School. This class answers the question "How to leverage the power of new social technology to effectively create real social good." The theoretical framework, "Dragonfly Effect: Mindset and Method" is geared towards helping students create a project with a clear single, focused goal to cultivate social good. It also helps students learn the process of a rapid prototype experiment that has viral effects, can be measured, and improved with reflection.
The instructor Jennifer Aaker just rocks. Spend a few minutes on her page and read a few of research papers. She's currently working on a book with her husband based on the course, so I'm definitely reserving my copy. After the class, she shared the story with her three children (above) who rallied together and made a contribution to the Sharing Foundation!
I also got meet Bernadette Clavier at the Center for Social Innovation while we were chatting in between class segments, she told me this amazing story of her eight-year old daughter's birthday campaign for clean water over at charity:water.
The class blog features posts by the students. Ann wrote a post about my session here. Definitely go check them out and leave some comments.
Grace talks about joining the Twitter Revolution and asks a great question related to her project:
I'm raising tens of thousands of dollars for a nonprofit from corporate sponsors. One open question for me is how to balance influencing individuals vs. companies when fundraising for a nonprofit, and how to identify key decision-makers in philanthropic companies.
Beatrice has a good reflection on user-generated content and micro blogging. She writes:
I love how social technologies allow us to discover more beautiful voices and empower people. I'm going to twitter more! Follow me @wikibea :) and tell me when I'm not doing it right!
I'll stop now, but if the students taking this class want to connect with people who work with nonprofits and are using social media, my birthday party has a terrific list of 66 bloggers to connect with.