Elaine Fogel

Nonprofits Spending More Time Using Social Media – But is It Paying Off?

Social media A recent, small study by Vertical Response says that a majority of nonprofits are spending more time using social media now than they did a year ago.

Findings show that:

  • 61% are spending more time than they did a year ago year
  • Nearly 40% are spending six or more hours every week on social media
  • Nearly 30% said they spend six to 10 hours per week on social media
  • 6% said they spend 11 to 20 hours per week on social media
  • 2% reported spending 21 or more hours per week on social media
  • More than 10% reported an increase in their social media budget compared to a year ago, while only 2.5% reported a decrease
  • Finding content to share is the most time-consuming challenge for nonprofits

Is It Paying Off?

Even though the study indicates that 22% of nonprofits are paying for publishing/analytic tools, it does not say anything about the types of data they are using to measure their social media efforts. I have heard many nonprofit professionals claim how many “likes” they have gained on Facebook, or how many followers they have. Yet, these types of metrics have no real value to marketers.

Nonprofits’ objectives for using social media may vary. If they use it to drive ticket or registration sales for fundraising events, as an example, then that is what they should measure – how many people purchased tickets as a result of clicking on a social media link.

If they are using social media for advocacy purposes, then they should measure the success of specific campaigns via their networks. If donations are what they seek, then measuring revenue that came through social networking is what they should be analyzing.

This type of data is not available in generic social media analytic programs. Someone internally needs to connect the dots manually, unless, their fundraising software programs have the means to collect this data for them.

Either way, “likes” and “follows” do not constitute successful social media marketing in the nonprofit sector. Along with spending more time using social media comes the accountability factor to measure the “right” things.

How else can organizations learn what works, what to invest in, and how much time to spend? Their funds are too valuable to waste on guesswork.

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