It's one of the biggest social media topics discussed on the internet today: Return on Investment. "How do you measure ROI for social media campaigns?" is the question that gets asked over and over again. However, that's really not the right question to be asking initially, especially for non-profits. A better question to ask first is, "Should we be trying to measure and quantify our ROI for social media?"

One of the most important things to take away about measuring ROI for social media is that there is no universally accepted metric or system for measuring ROI. In fact, it’s a mistake to think of social media as a plug-and-chug, “if you build it, they will donate” kind of solution.

The most important part of exploring social media’s ROI is your goals. However you choose to measure ROI for your organization’s social media campaigns, it is absolutely essential that it matches what your goals for the campaign are. If your goal is to increase awareness of your organization, you should measure your “ROI” in terms of something like percentage increase in monthly unique visitors to your website. The biggest mistake you can make is to only think of ROI in terms of literal dollar amounts – this concept simply doesn’t apply to social media. So instead of traditional ROI metrics, try measuring your social media success based on things like number of followers/friends, quality of conversations, click-through rates on your links (see the next section for information on some tools you can use to measure this), or number of interactions.

While it may seem like there’s a ton of articles published about using social media for fundraising and advertising, we would caution you and your organization against focusing too heavily on social media’s uses for fundraising purposes. Social media’s true value lies in the increased awareness and recognition it can provide, as well as giving your organization a more personalized image.

ROI is a tricky subject, not least of all because it's often what boards of directors and committees want to hear about as a "bottom line." However, its important to keep it in perspective when talking about social media - evaluate your organizational goals first, and decide if it's even right for your organization to be attempting to measure specific ROI for your social media campaigns.


How does your organization measure the success of its social media campaigns? Tell us about it in the comments!

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