4 minute read

Great! We’ve discussed what social media analytics is and why nonprofits should pay attention to the data. Now it’s time to dig a little bit deeper.

You may be wondering: How do I start? What tools should I use? Which metrics should I measure? If so, stick around because we’ll answer those questions shortly.

How do I start?

Before you even begin to look at any kind of social media analytics tool, sit down with your team and define the goals that guide your organization. For nonprofits, common goals are to recruit volunteers, share their story and attract donors.

Once you’ve defined your goals, think about how those goals translate into the digital sphere. Your nonprofit probably wants to recruit volunteers, right? Okay, now that’s a big goal. How are you going to track it? How does it become measurable in the digital space? One idea is to set up a form on a landing page from your website where interested volunteers can submit an application or sign up for a specific volunteer slot.

The point here is simply to specify your nonprofit’s goals and note ways you can measure those goals digitally. Take your time with this too because it is crucial in order to accurately set up, measure and analyze your social media data.

What tools should I use?

Now that you’ve defined specific goals, it’s time to choose which tools you’ll use to digitally track them.

At first glance, the word analytics might bring to mind the following: difficult, expensive, confusing. Don’t let these negative connotations fool you! The major social channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, etc. already have analytics tools built into the platform. Plus, these platform-based tools are free, easy to use and great for providing valuable insights.

Although platform-based tools are a fantastic place to start (and you definitely should use them), I would encourage you to also get signed up with Google Analytics. With Google Analytics, another free tool, you can connect the dots between your social media performance, your website and your goals. As a nonprofit, your ultimate goal with social media should be to drive your audience to complete an action on your website—an action that will help achieve the organizational goals you defined earlier.

There are hundreds of social media analytics tools in addition to platform-based tools and Google Analytics. Some are free, a few have inexpensive subscription fees and others charge a hefty price. While some of those tools are great, why spend money on something you can get for free? Stick with platform-based tools and Google Analytics to start, and the information gleaned from these tools will provide similar insights.

Which metrics should I measure?

Goals are set. Tools are chosen. It’s time to decide what you’re going to measure. There are so many metrics available with social media analytics tools. Don’t ever feel like you need to pay attention to all of them (unless you want your mind extremely boggled). Lucky for you, I’ve compiled a list of metrics to get you started.

Engagement refers to the number of interactions your content receives. Likes, comments, shares, etc. all count toward engagement. This metric provides context to what types of content your audience enjoys. Once you have a better idea of what your audience likes to engage with, you can use that type of content more often and should see a rise in engagement not only in social media land, but in the real world as well.

Reach is the number of people who see your content. It helps you discover how far your content is traveling in the wild, wild west of social media. Of course, simply knowing how many people see your posts is just the beginning. Reach is a metric best used when contrasted against other metrics like engagement.

For instance, you might be trying to see which voice works better for your social posts—serious or lighthearted. Your serious posts total 1,200 in engagement and 5,000 in reach. The engagement percentage for serious posts is 24% (1,200/5,000). Conversely, your lighthearted posts total 1,400 in engagement and 8,000 in reach for an engagement percentage of 17.5% (1,400/8,000). Since your posts with a serious voice have a higher engagement percentage, you can infer that your audience prefers a serious tone and that you should use that voice more often. Remember, by their definitions, your reach will always be higher than your engagement.

Conversions are when recipients of your marketing messages act on your calls to action. Earlier we discussed a nonprofit’s goal for volunteers. A potential volunteer submitting a contact form on your website is just one of many examples of a conversion for this goal. Ultimately, conversions can be anything you want, as long as it’s an online activity that leads to the completion of a goal you set for your nonprofit.

Audience size is the number of followers you have. Sometimes people get caught up in follower counts and put gaining followers high on their priority list. While it’s great to have a significant number of followers, you should focus on engaging the followers you already have. However, follower size is useful for comparing changes in follower growth to other metrics like an increase or a decrease in conversions or engagements.

As a beginner, the whole concept of social media analytics can be a bit overwhelming. Please don’t fret! Look out for more articles in this Social Analytics series and learn about Firespring’s social media solutions for nonprofits. We offer helpful materials, webinars and seminars on how your nonprofit can market itself to further its cause. Find out more by calling 877.447.8941 or email hello@firespring.com.