Category Archives: Social media

What’s “Good” Nonprofit Facebook Growth?

Being liked on Facebook isn’t enough, but it’s not a bad place to start. Facebook continues to be an important channel for building engagement with community members, volunteers, donors and potential donors.

In March 2010 I started tracking a sampling of Sacramento nonprofits to understand something about the growth of Facebook. By “sampling,” I do not mean that I constructed a representative sample; let’s say I taste-tested them to get a sense of average performance and growth. Though there were baseline numbers out there in the blogosphere, they were generally for big, national organizations. I wanted to know what a local nonprofit should be striving to achieve.

I’ve now got 33* organizations in my sights including a few that I added in this round and a few that I exclude from analysis as outliers.

Here are the highlights from an analysis of 24 local nonprofits:

  • In 2010 (when I was tracking a much smaller comparison group), the average number of likes was around 500. The average is now 973.
  • I was surprised by the continuing growth between June 3, 2012 and June 3, 2013. As the denominator gets bigger, it gets harder to achieve impressive growth. That’s just math. I was also concerned that Facebook’s changes have made it harder for nonprofits’ content to be seen as widely. Among the 24 nonprofits who had at least 500 likes last year, growth ranged from a low of 11% (People Reaching Out) to a high of 63% (United Way California Capital Region).
  • In the group with 500-1,000 likes last year, growth averaged 34%. (United Way fell in this group, with 501 likes as of 6/3/12 and 815 as of 6/2/13).
  • In the group with 1,000+ likes last year, growth averaged 39%. The “winner” in this larger category was Effie Yeaw Nature Center, which grew from 1,125 likes a year ago to 1,763 today. The growth of this larger category impressed me. It suggested that whatever “machine” they ginned up to get to the 1,000 mark is still accelerating.

What about the outliers?

I don’t know what’s going on with Stanford Youth Solutions (formerly Stanford Children’s Home). They started their Facebook page in 2011 and had 393 likes this time last year. Now they have 70. They’ve redone their website but their social link (singular) is buried (unobtrusively displayed on the right several screen swipes down).

Susan G. Komen, which experienced a dramatic drop in racer participants, has also had a huge loss in Facebook friends, dropping from 9,815 in 2012 to 6,948 today, a 29% drop.

I also exclude the Crocker Art Museum because of their size. But they should be feeling great about continuing growth, from 13,860 a year ago to 18,194 today, 31% growth!

How’d they do that?

Facebook doesn’t have to be a part of a nonprofit’s marketing strategy, but I’d be hard pressed to come up with a circumstance when it doesn’t belong in it.

One of the obvious differences between organizations that grew rapidly and those that didn’t is the placement of Facebook on their website page. I suspect that also carries over to other communications – printed materials, emails, etc.

For every rule, however, there’s an exception. Effie Yeaw is obviously doing a great job of promoting their Facebook page, but not on their website. If the link is there, I couldn’t find it!

I’ll do some more sleuthing to see if I can ferret out winning approaches in content as a driver of Facebook growth.

*The organizations I track – all local affiliates:

United Way, American Red Cross, Boys and Girls Clubs, Child Abuse Prevention Center, Children’s Receiving Home, Crocker Art Museum, Diogenes Youth Center, Effie Yeaw, Foodlink, Francis House, Give Local Now, Goodwill, Hands On Sacramento, Junior Achievement, Lilliput, Loaves and Fishes, Make a Wish, People Reaching Out, PRIDE Industries, River City Food Bank, Sacramento Children’s Home, Sacramento Steps Forward, Sacramento Tree Foundation, Sierra Forever Families, Salvation Army, Susan G. Komen, Stanford Youth Solutions, St. John’s Shelter, Volunteers of America, WEAVE, WIND Youth Services, Women’s Empowerment, The Y of Sacramento

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Benchmarking Facebook page growth among Sacramento nonprofits

We interrupt our series on strategic planning for nonprofits to check in on an important tactic. Although organizations like NTEN collect and report valuable benchmark data about online communication and fundraising by nonprofits, they usually survey nonprofits that are much larger than those in a community the size of Sacramento.

Starting in March 2010, I began collecting information about Sacramento nonprofits’ Facebook results. Initially I looked at a dozen or so. In September 2011, I expanded my efforts and started tracking more than 30 organizations’ Facebook pages. I took another snapshot today.

Since I have more data for the 9-month period, I’ll report that. Excluding three outliers, nonprofits here in Sacramento experienced an average growth of 38.6% in “likes” over the past 9 months. Among nonprofits who had between 500 and 1,000 “likes” as of September 2011, Effie Yeaw appears to be the winner. In September 2011, they had been liked by 621 people and now they boast 1,125. Good for you, Effie Yeaw, as you make the important transition to being supported by donations rather than funded by a governmental agency! We’ll have to check in and find out how they managed such great growth.

I excluded Sierra Forever Families because they had literally just launched on Facebook when I took my first data snapshot. I also excluded Stanford Home for Children, which has a new identity as Stanford Youth Solutions. Evidently they abandoned their Facebook page with the old identity and are now promoting a page with the new one.

I also excluded Susan G. Komen’s Facebook page. They either picked up a huge number of new likes after the recent Planned Parenthood funding controversy, growing from 2,167 friends in September 2011 to 9,815 today, or it’s possible that they have more than one Facebook page and I previously pulled numbers for a different one than I did today.

What gets you the most new likes, Sacramento nonprofits?

(The chart below is not the entire data set, so the math won’t work right if you try to calculate the average.)

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20 questions from CSUS Graphic Design students

CSUS professor Gwen Amos’ “Visual Image” students have a tough assignment:  research and understand the scope of poverty in Sacramento, and develop a print piece, poster and campaign to assist a worthy nonprofit.  Today I met with four students — Biz Lemma, Charmian Mendoza, Jessica Ripley and Kevin Swaim — to discuss their preliminary ideas to benefit Women’s Empowerment, an organization that they see has having a vital mission and approach to helping homeless women. (Note: their work is not sponsored by Women’s Empowerment but they selected the organization and are busily working on ideas to advance its cause.)

They also came with a laundry list of questions – 20, to be exact!  More than a dozen were of general interest so I’ll do my best to answer them here.  Readers, do you disagree with me? Please comment.  I know the students would appreciate the input.

How can we, as designers, use social marketing strategies to influence the behaviors of the public?

How can’t you?  I know that’s not what you asked. Social marketing literally means influencing attitudes and behaviors to accomplish a public good. All causes have to “map” how they will get people from point “A” to point “B.”  They may have to create awareness first before getting people to take steps that will accomplish the good they envision. Or it may be that people are already aware of the issue and just need to know how they can get involved, usually starting with low-risk baby steps and progressing to higher involvement. Social media, which we discussed today, offers an important set of tools to get people to engage.

What methods have been used in “call to action” campaigns that would work on a local scale?

We discussed a variety of examples when we met, but I’ll share one here.  Some of the most successful campaigns address a problem that people immediately grasp, make it easy to support the effort, and have a short-term sense of urgency.  “Give to the Max Day” in Minnesota is an effort by that state’s nonprofits to come together and get people to give locally.  Last year, the effort raised more than $10 million from 42,000 donors in 24 hours.

What levels of interactivity do we need to reach in order to make an impact? How important is it for the audience to be able to interact with an advertisement as opposed to simply read information on a flyer?

I know from our conversation that you’re wondering whether a poster or flyer (which requires no interaction) is better or worse that some kind of communications tool that makes you take an action (like a tear-off pad).  Old school direct mail advertising used to favor pieces where you had to apply a sticker and send in for the free offer.  Asking people to do something yielded higher returns than just a plain old mail appeal.  But today, it’s important to remember that people have short attention spans.  Something tactile might work if it’s clever enough and makes sense, or it might get ignored.  Spend time thinking about where people are now in their decision process about involvement.  Do you need to spend time raising awareness as a “drip irrigation” method: delivering a steady stream of short messages through passive media like billboards?  Or do people already ‘get it’ and just need an easy way to act – like click a button on a website?  When it comes to interactivity, I’d think less about print, which has a substantial up front cost and may be risky in terms of return. Think more about online tactics.

For a cause like helping to alleviate poverty, is a magazine the right way to present the information we have?

It could be a way to present it.  First you have to reach an audience that wants to know more. Magazines have the luxury of multiple pages to tell the story, and the ability to present compelling visuals.  They might be a great tool for major donor prospects.  Another approach might be a video.

Do you think that social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) is more successful currently than traditional billboards, print ads, mailers, etc.?

The metric for success here is return on investment.  For every dollar you spend, what do you get back?  Because social media are cheap or free, it’s hard to beat the return.  Plus you can experiment rapidly.  On the other hand, the jury is out in terms of social media’s ability to generate substantial donations.  As pointed out recently by John Kenyon at the Nonprofit Resource Center conference, email and even “snail mail” still play an important role in generating donations.  (Here’s an old presentation of his that explains the role of email in fundraising.)  Online donors frequently become snail mail donors.

Is there any gain in having volunteer organizations on Yelp?

Yelp is definitely a social medium, but people tend to go there for reviews.  It can be a good place to create events to attract new friends and followers.

Do you feel that QR codes are a fad?  Are these marketable to older crowds as well?  Are people more likely o get involved with an organization, or at least visit their websites, if there is a QR in the ad?

Old like me 🙂 ? I think they’ll be useful eventually but right now they’re mostly sizzle and no steak for nonprofits.  On the other hand, there is a small set of people who love new tech toys, and those people might follow a QR to a website.  If you’re trying to recruit programmers to work with disadvantaged kids near Silicon Valley, a QR code on ads might work well.  Think about your target audience first.  Do they have smart phones and use a QR reader app?

What is a good way to advertise for volunteers as opposed to donations?

Volunteering and donating are both behaviors.  As we talked about today, friends are a more influential source of information than paid advertising.  Think about how you can mobilize people to bring their friends into a cause, whether it’s as a volunteer or donor.  You might think of those as alternative paths for giving.  Some people might have more time or talent, while others have more financial resources.  Nonprofits need both.

What is a good length for a YouTube video campaign?  Would these be effective for groups such as Women’s Empowerment so that the target audience can put a face to the cause?

Watch TV news and you’ll get a pretty good idea about the optimal length of a video.  Keep remembering: we all have short attention spans!  I haven’t seen data about optimal length but I’d guess 2-3 minutes would be the maximum before you start to lose people.  Videos do need a story arc: something that engages you, depicts a struggle or a challenge, and releases tension by providing information about what you can do.  Video is ideal for organizations like Women’s Empowerment, much harder for organizations that have “colorless” visuals – e.g. free tax preparation assistance. [Update:  The Give Minnesota folks are also running a nonprofit video contest called “Does this make my heart look big?” The second flash image that comes up once you land on the site asks for votes on the most compelling video.  Check them out and see what you think about length and impact.]

What sort of information would an organization trying to raise community involvement need to include on a Facebook page?  In trying to up the number of volunteers, would Facebook be more successful than traditional print ads or flyers?

What works best – always – is an integrated media campaign across multiple channels, but nonprofits rarely have the money for that.  Websites and Facebook are very cost effective channels for engaging people.  The beauty of Facebook is engagement and interaction; it’s a conversation rather than a one-way channel.  Spend time looking around on Facebook fan pages to see what kind of content (and messages) seem to be working for nonprofits that have similar appeals.  Draft a one-page “message and voice” guideline with your ideas about what the nonprofit needs to convey (prioritized) and what its personality should be.  The idea is to get other people to post on your page and on their own page.  Above is an example from today on River City Food Bank‘s Facebook page – 2 people who cared enough to post.

How many campaigns should an organization have per year?

Whatever number is effective!  It would depend on the organization and what it’s asking through the campaigns.  The big thing is that the organization should map out a strategy for the year.  For example, it might start the year with a personal outreach campaign to major donors, then promote an event, then focus on a membership drive, then do a holiday push and “it’s not too late” New Year’s reminder.

Parting words

Start with the end in mind (outcome).  What is the problem the client — in this case, the nonprofit — is struggling with that marketing and design can help solve?

Conceptualize a strategy that goes from awareness of a problem or cause through the behavior that the nonprofit wants to encourage.  You will undoubtedly have a limited budget so pick just one step on the long ladder from awareness to behavior as a place to begin.

Test it on your mother.  Can you explain what you want your Mom to do in 140 characters or less so that she gets it and wants to help?

Think in terms of a short campaign – or at least a fairly short experiment.  So many of the “old reliable” marketing techniques have fallen by the wayside with splintered audiences.  Now everything is test and learn, keep building on what works and stop doing what doesn’t.  What can you do that’s not too expensive and gets a response in 6 weeks or less?

Good luck.  And thanks.  The nonprofit world needs young people like you who care, and have talent to share.

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How STF made 1,000+ new Facebook friends in 30 days

Check out the Sacramento Tree Foundation’s Facebook page posts before and after their very successful Facebook growth campaign, and then read what Colleen Cadwallader, the organization’s development director, has to say about the results. (Note: republished version – section that was left out was inserted.)

Before – 1,200 friends:

Before: 1,200 friends

After – ~3,500 friends*:

*Approximately 300 of the new likes were from outside the local area

Background:  After renovating its Campus Commons senior independent living community outdoor environment in Sacramento – including planting 106 new trees – Sacramento-based Ray Stone Seniors approached the Sacramento Tree Foundation about a cross-promotional campaign.  Active in the local community since 1968, the company saw a connection between their renovation effort and STF’s campaign to preserve and protect Sacramento’s legacy of trees.  What if local companies got behind the community goal of planting 5 million trees? The company offered to make a donation for every new Facebook friend that liked the STF Facebook page in a 30 day period – an adaptation of a matching donation fundraising program.  In return, STF would expose its audience of 12,000 newsletter subscribers and 1,000+ Facebook friends to Ray Stone senior independent living communities.

Disclosure:  “Philanthrophile” is not a bystander in this one.  I was a matchmaker.  As an owner/family member and sometimes-consultant for Ray Stone Seniors, I stumbled across the fact the Campus Commons senior independent living community had made a dramatic investment in trees and landscaping as part of its vision of having a high quality indoor/outdoor living experience.  It occurred to me that there might be an opportunity for a new kind of business collaboration that supported both organizations’ goals. “Philanthrophile’s” personal goal is to help local nonprofits find effective and affordable ways to further their missions.

Q & A with Colleen Cadwallader

What happened?  Did engagement and interaction increase, decrease or stay about the same?

Engagement and interaction increased ten-fold; however, that was in large part because we made an extra effort to post fun and interesting things that enticed fans to participate more.  The promotion really motivated our staff to use Facebook more.

What did STF do to promote and add legs to the campaign?

We used a number of different tactics to get the word out:

  • Email taglines about the campaign were added to every staff member’s signature
  • Two single-message Constant Contact email blasts were emailed out to our 12,000 contacts
  • We advertised through Facebook
  • We participated in a radio interview with KFBK
  • We asked our partners to put the campaign on their pages (see example below)
  • We asked our Board members and staff to put the request on their own personal Facebook pages
  • We asked people to like us while we had them at tree-planting events
What lessons did you learn?
Enthusiasm about the promotion was very high at first, but began to lag as time went on.  Thankfully, we had written down the tactics we wanted to follow and made sure to keep revisiting them and taking action.  However, we did not do a final push/count down during the last two days of the month.  If we had asked our Board members/partners/staff/friends to help one last time, we think we could have seen an additional spike.  We also had fewer events than usual this September.  If we had done the campaign in October or November when we are out almost every weekend, we would have been able to garner an even greater response.  People really loved this concept and everyone wanted to help, even Congresswoman Doris Matsui!
How does Facebook fit into the STF’s communications strategy?
The STF does not currently have a communication position on staff so our social marketing campaign is created with that in mind. However, we do try to take advantage of every opportunity available to us especially those that are cost efficient and user friendly.  For that reason, over the past 12 months we have been relying more heavily on social media, especially Facebook.  One of the things we enjoy most about Facebook is that a number of our staff members can manage the daily communications, which not only helps in terms of utilizing people resources but also ensures that we are communicating regularly with our fan base.  Recently, we recruited an unpaid intern to help us keep the fun in Facebook.  She is helping us to increase user interactions by posting engaging activities like the picture photo caption contest and the Tree of the Week note.  She is newly graduated from college and brings some fresh ideas about social media.
Are you rethinking the results you hope to achieve in the wake of last week’s changes to Facebook?  Do you expect Facebook to increase, decrease or stay about the same in importance?
We would like to understand better how the changes are supposed to be helpful to nonprofits especially in terms of the Causes pages.  Changes to Facebook cause our organization a bit of frustration because we don’t have a lot of time and effort to put into learning the new in’s and out’s.  At this point we expect Facebook to remain an integral part of our social media.
What did you expect would be the direct and indirect benefits of this promotional campaign?
We were very excited when we learned about Ray Stone Seniors’ promotional idea.  We expected that the direct benefit would be an increase in our fan base.  When we launched, we hadn’t thought much about the indirect benefits – although one of the greatest indirect benefits was greater commitment on our part to increase the number of interactions by engaging our fans differently.
What happened?  Did you achieve those benefits or different benefits than you expected?
We set a goal to reach a total of 2,000 fans by the end of the month and had to reset that goal when we passed it just 2 weeks into the campaign.  On September 30, we had a fan base of about 2,500 — an increase of 1,366.  What’s most incredible is that our fan numbers have continued to increase over the past few days. We believe this is due to the fact that our social reach has increased so much and more people than every are liking, commenting and sharing our posts.
Do you think you reached new audiences — or segments — as a result of the growth campaign?
We targeted a few of our Facebook ads specifically to high school and college-aged Facebook users because of the need to inspire this age group to volunteer at our plantings and apply for internships.  These audiences grew.  We also saw a big increase in women ages 25-34 and older audiences as well.
Below:  examples of the Tree Foundation’s Facebook posts and comments during September
First nudge:
Reminder:
Partner post:
Next post:  Ray Stone Seniors’ point of view

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In the online world, which function should lead?

Is public relations about controlling the conversation, and therefore antithetical to social media, or does PR play an important role in shaping brand message? Not surprisingly, the panelists for the “Facebook for Public Relations,” weren’t in alignment. Some were associated with online marketing companies while others represented PR companies. A woman in the audience from Fleischman heatedly told the panel that PR should lead the parade because PR had been successfully managing content for 65 years. Hoo boy.

From crowd comments, it was pretty clear that PR is not well understood. One guy went so far as to say that his attitude toward PR was “meh” because he got plenty of press releases.

Adele Cehrs of Epic PR Group made one of the better comments by noting that PR can play a critical strategic and tactical role when bad things happen, whether to your company or to a competitor’s. Companies have the potential for thought leadership across channels by paying attention to conversations on and offline.

Why bother with traditional media at all, an audience member asked. “Third party credibility,” Adele suggested. Chris Brubaker of Roost noted that traditional media may have a more immediate and material impact on sales than social networks.

“PR has a certain smell to it,” one person said. Sally Falkow of PRESSFeed acknowledged that there is good PR and bad PR. People expect 2 way channels with real people, not with the PR people. Authenticity is critical. That means admitting if there’s a problem with your product or service.

Cultivating relationships with journalists and bloggers, in advance of need, is a precondition for effective PR. That requires not only knowing who they are, being familiar with what they write about, and being helpful. Sally noted that many journalists actually post about what they’re researching.

The speakers mentioned several tools for finding bloggers and writers who have an interest – and following – for a particular topic for example, Socialmention and tracker.

Is this the end of PR, the moderator asked, or at least the name of the function? A journalist commented that he didn’t want to be bulldozed; he would write what he wanted and, good or bad, it would be better than a news release.

“The Internet is another medium. We have to learn how to deal with it,” concluded Sally.

As a former senior marketer, strategy officer and senior leader in a national PR firm (three different hats, three different companies), I found the whole session SCARY.

(live from All Facebook Expo from my iPad with apologies for errors)

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Does Facebook’s Sponsored Stories make sense for nonprofits?

After listening to Katie Faul, head of Global Ads, Product Marketing Facebook, I thought it just might – so I’ll check it out and post about it soon. Katie described how UNICEF nearly doubled the number of fans it had on Facebook – to 107,000 fans – using tools like Sponsored Stories.

Katie used the power of stories to communicate the impact of social sharing on Word-of-mouth. She described how her friend’s online sharing about his workout led to 10 new customers of a fitness machine. Online sharing helps people find jobs, learn about bands and discover small businesses.

Whereas the Internet was used largely for search in the 90s, now it’s used to ask friends for their recommendations, or for social sharing. Now the majority of website traffic may come from social sharing (via Facebook or Twitter, for example) rather than search.

One of the biggest changes has been with photo sharing. More photos are now shared on Facebook than all of the online photo sharing sites combined.

Companies are now using Facebook as a critical part of product development. She referenced the experience of Squishables, which recently asked online friends what color they preferred for their latest toy. 15 percent of Squishables sales now comes directly from Facebook.

AmEx created Small Business Saturday and attracted over a million friends who began sharing stories about their favorite local small businesses. Besides the promotion’s rapid traction, retail sales tripled year over year for that Saturday.

Katie suggested that small businesses – or nonprofits – use signs in physical locations to encourage people to join you on Facebook, or “like us” ads for those that do not have bricks and mortar.

Sponsored stories is Facebook’s new product that allows organizations to achieve greater visibility by advertising in association with news feeds.

Facebook is thinking about how to help increase the volume and quality of spontaneous stories through Facebook. Sponsored stories, unlike a Facebook ad, “pin” a story to the right hand column of someone’s wall (for a fee, of course). But they are stories shared by someone you know rather than a third party organization. Sponsored Stories isn’t just one thing; there are actually seven different versions depending on whether someone wants to deploy it on a website or Facebook page.

The best stories are simple – and entertaining. Most people are in a “lean back” mode when they look at their news feed. In at sense, photos are a story, so photos are way to communicate something simple.

A key theme of Katie’s talk was amplification. How do you avoid getting lost in someone’s feed, or ignored?

Whether or not nonprofits use a tool like Sponsored Stories, the concept of amplification makes a lot of sense.

(posted live from All Facebook Expo from my iPad… With apologies for formatting glitches or errors!)

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“It’s all about social execution” : Clara Shih at All Facebook Expo

In her keynote, Clara Shih, CEO of Hearsay Social, reminded audience members that people are sharing more information than ever before, and that the Facebook template has become a common language – from how people met, to where they went to school, to whether they’re in a relationship (complicated?). For businesses and nonprofits, it creates the potential for hyper-targeting, a new level of precision.

Over one-third of audience members said they had implemented Facebook Connect, which allows people to log in with a Facebook ID and see what their friends are doing across the web. For nonprofits that add this feature to their website, it immediately makes a corporate or nonprofit website page feel personalized, not to mention giving greater visibility to new posts, which show up on the users’ wall.

1. Target your message
Any of the data that people share in their profile can become the basis of a targeted Facebook advertising campaign
2. Know when to use which medium
Many small businesses – and nonprofits – find it very expensive to update their website, and their traffic is limited. For these organizations, Facebook becomes a more practical way to maintain a current Internet presence.
3. Be human, be authentic
Comcast has learned to embrace Twitter – even in the face of unhappy customers – and been able to put a more human face on the company.
4. Invest in killer content
A huge side benefit of fresh Facebook content is improving website traffic (improving optimization for search). She recommends posting at least once a week and not more often than several times a day.
5. Evolve your metrics
In the new world, customer lifetime value takes on a new meaning. A customer may influence others to get involved, or may become an advocate who can defend your organization – more effectively than you could. Those who engage with you may also contribute valuable ideas. So metrics are evolving to embrace these interim results.
6. Protect (while empowering) your people
In the old world, many functions operated in silos. New emerging ground requires marketers and communicators to facilitate corporate and brand compliance conversations as more people within organizations are online.
7. Have fun and keep learning
Clara shared Pizza Hut’s success with adding the capability to order pizzas from its Facebook page, rather than requiring customers to link to the order function on the main website. Nearly one-third of customers abandoned their shopping cart before; now the pizza ordering app on Facebook has not only grown sales but become a popular social sharing activity among high school students.

Stay tuned for my thoughts about what nonprofits are doing right and wrong when it comes to Facebook… And how they might apply Clara’s 7 habits.

(live from AF Expo… Please excuse any errors!)

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Who’s using Twitter now? 25-34 year olds’ use has doubled since late 2010

Recommended reading: Pew’s June 1, 2011 “Twitter Update” report, which I missed a couple of weeks back.  You can download the report for free. Pew is the most credible source out there on online media use.

Verbatim, here’s Pew’s overview:

Overview

13% of online adults use the status update service Twitter, which represents a significant increase from the 8% of online adults who identified themselves as Twitter users in November 2010. 95% of Twitter users own a mobile phone, and half of these users access the service on their handheld device.

As in our previous research on Twitter use, African Americans and Latinos continue to have high rates of adoption of the service. Fully 25% of online African Americans use Twitter at least occasionally, with 11% doing so on a typical day.

Additionally, Twitter use by internet users ages 25-34 has doubled since late 2010 (from 9% to 19%) and usage by those ages 35-44 has also grown significantly (from 8% to 14%).

About the Survey

These findings come from national survey findings from a poll conducted on landline and cell phones, in English and Spanish, between April 26 and May 22, 2011 among 2,277 adults (age 18 and older). The margin of error among the internet users is +/- 3.7 percentage points.

 

The Pew Internet & American Life Project is one of seven projects that make up the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. The Project produces reports exploring the impact of the internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life.

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Idealware Facebook research: what it’s best at

Idealware's webinar slide regarding its new Facebook research

See the sneak peek

I’m listening to Idealware’s free webinar, through which Andrea Berry and Kyle Andrei are walking participants through the highlights of their recent research survey of over 500 professionals who were using Facebook for their nonprofit organizations.  Here are a few findings that I found of particular interest:

  1. Organizations that are spending less than 2 1/2 hours a week monitoring and posting on Facebook don’t feel they’re having much success. (See screen shot of slide, below.)  On the other end of the spectrum, at some point there are diminishing returns for time spent, but more than 50% organizations spending 9 hours or more per week on Facebook rate their efforts as successful.  NTEN’s 2010 Nonprofit Social Network Survey of more than 11,000 professionals recently found that the majority (61%) allocate at least a quarter Full Time Equivalent to managing their social networks.
  2. One of the things Facebook does best is drive traffic to websites.  Those who reported success with their Facebook social networking efforts were most positive about FB’s ability to drive website traffic, and move people to action.  Kyle nudged listeners: are you giving constituents what they want to see on your website, or do you still have a website that’s been the same since the 90s?
  3. Facebook is best at generating lower level commitment, especially event attendance.  (See screen shot, below.) “It’s a very good entry point,” reminded Kyle, especially compared to its effectiveness at driving volunteering or donation behaviors.  Andrea chimed in, “They’re there to be social online but also offline,” so events are a good way to engage Facebook fans.
  4. While Facebook isn’t that great at generating donations, it’s a good place to let constituents know how your campaign is doing as another touchpoint.
  5. Facebook does help to raise awareness of an organization or its mission, in particular by enabling people to spread information more widely.  85% of respondents reported “some” or “substantial” success getting Facebook fans to spread information.
  6. Kyle and Andrea recommended Facebook Insights, the free, built-in administrators’ tool, as a starting point on a measurement program.  Unfortunately, they said, most of the respondents reported that they don’t have a formal measurement system for evaluating success.  Kyle also suggested measuring website visits from Facebook referrals through Google Analytics.  “Facebook is one of the biggest referrers to nonprofit web pages,” Andrea echoed.
  7. Surprising, a large number of respondents reported that they weren’t seeing a positive impact from their Facebook efforts.  Andrea speculated that organizations may have unrealistic goals, or they may be measuring the wrong things.  She reminded the group, “Social media is really uncharted territory.”

As you might expect, you can join Idealware on Facebook!

UPDATE:  Here is the link to the full set of slides from the seminar: http://seminars.idealware.org/social_media/Facebook_Research_1106.pdf

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What’s a good level of growth in Facebook fans?

Key (read from the bottom up on the chart)

1 – Loaves and Fishes; 2 – Susan G. Komen; 3 – WEAVE; 4 – American Red Cross; 5 – Volunteers of America; 6 – Salvation Army; 7 – River City Food Bank; 8 – St. John’s Shelter

Benchmarks have really been on my mind this week, including reporting the median number of unique website visitors for small-to-medium sized nonprofits from a recent study.  Today I’m thinking about Facebook benchmarks.  A little over a year ago, someone asked me, “So what’s a good number of Facebook fans for a local nonprofit?”  I blogged about my unscientific survey in a post here.

The organizations I chose to examine then were suggested by United Way’s Steve Heath as larger, active nonprofits.  I noted that the two with the largest fan bases had big initiatives underway: the Crocker was working on its big expansion, and Loaves & Fishes had undertaken a big capital campaign.

This week, I took a look at the same nonprofits to help get at the question, “So what’s healthy growth for Facebook fans?”  NTEN’s 2011 Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report found that the average fan base grew 161% between 2009 and 2010.  Although the study was based on information provided by more than 11,000 nonprofit professionals representing organizations of various sizes, the findings weren’t broken out by organization size, so it’s of limited use to our small, local nonprofits here in Sacramento.  I did find it interesting that 89% of nonprofits in the study reported they have a presence on Facebook.

In the chart above, I excluded the Crocker because they are so far above the norm and put a ton of resources into promoting their new expansion and opening.  They grew from a fan base of 4,561 in March 2010 to 9,952.  Yay, Crocker!  (I also want to acknowledge that the decline in Facebook fans I report above for the American Red Cross makes me wonder if they had a different page name/type a year ago.)  So, some data observations:

  • Four organizations had fewer than 500 fans 15 months ago.  Their growth ranged from 122%-347%.
  • Three organizations had between 500 and 1,000 fans.  Excluding American Red Cross, their growth was 117% for Susan G. Komen and 169% for WEAVE.
  • Loaves & Fishes and the Crocker, our stars a year ago, are still growing.  They grew 78% and 118%, respectively.
  • The organization with the fastest growth was St. John’s Shelter, with that whopping 347% growth.  Go, St. John’s!

I noted a year ago that there was little apparent relationship between the number of posts per week and the size of the fan base.  I still think that’s true based on some other sleuthing I’ve been doing.  Based on my reports earlier this week about the importance of content in generating engagement, and the value of timing, I’ve begun investigating the value of links to/from partners and other organizations, which show up on a fan page as the organization’s “likes”.  I’m also looking at the relationship between the number of photos and videos posted and fan engagement, and the relative prominence of the Facebook badge or “like” button on the organization’s website.

I used to work with a crusty former reporter who always looked for the “so what” in a news release.  “If that’s so, she said, then so what?”

The “so what” for me, in this case, is that local nonprofits — for the time being — should strive for at least 5-6% growth per month in new fans.  Shoot for 10% growth per month and you’ll be in the neighborhood of 185-200%* growth over the course of a year.   That would be aggressive, and if it were me, I wouldn’t commit to it unless I knew that there would be promotional dollars and resources to support a campaign.  It won’t happen by just posting away on Facebook.  (*I refused to pull out my Texas Instruments calculator to look at compounded growth, but my chicken scratchings should be close enough for targeting.)

At some point, the market for Facebook “fanage” may diminish, and it won’t be realistic to target growth in the 100%+ range, but for now, adoption still seems to be growing.  Local nonprofits should also be cautioned against simply adopting a growth target.  Benchmarks for should be chosen in the context of the average fan base of successful peer/similar organizations or industry-wide averages.

You should also keep in mind your end game with Facebook presence.  Besides the number of fans, active fans, new fans, etc., you should be tracking the number of Facebook referrals to your organization website through a tool like Google Analytics.  You want people engaged for a reason:  volunteer, donate, etc.  Your website is your involvement center.  (Google Analytics is free and makes it very easy to examine how visitors got to your site.  People who looked for you directly through your URL, and organic search through Google, will likely be the top two sources, but after that you should look for Facebook referral traffic… it may be down in the data details a waze.)

As a side note, Twitter adoption by nonprofits seems to have leveled off at about 60% according to the NTEN benchmarking study.  I don’t know if that’s a reflection of Twitter fatigue, or just that the consensus seems to be that there is better return from Facebook resource investments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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