Hello SOTGC community,
While consulting in the nonprofit sector I often find myself in a discussion with the leadership team about social networking. Many NPO organizations simply don’t have the resources and others don’t understand how they will be able to measure the value of social networking.
That leads me to the question “How do you measure social networking? Can the seemingly “immeasurable” truly be measured?” I am finding that with the obsession of social networking there does not seem to be one right answer. Influence of others is difficult to ascertain online. What about the guy on twitter, you know who, Ashton Kutcher who promised to ‘ding dong ditch’ Ted Turner’s house when he received 1 million followers. How do we influence and measure our success through social networking?
It seems that it becomes easier to understand influence when it’s broken down into its core components: Brand, Expertise and Trust. It’s clear that personal branding is important to online influence. I’m always receiving requests from friends, family, and business associates to join their social networks. My first question is always how I would measure the return on investment to joining these sites. And I don’t mean the financial investment, but the time that is invested to creating the site, earning trust, and influencing others.
It’s impossible to gain a true picture of who you are simply by looking at a photo or just reading a blog. It all comes back to trust. Trust will grow by being able to view a person’s social content in aggregate. This is why life-streaming applications like Facebook and Twitter have grown so rapidly.
In terms of measuring online influence, the stronger your brand, the more influence one wields online. The most important component of online influence is trust. Trust is defined as creating a consistent expectation that a person will always act in your best interest when given information.
Expertise is another core component of influence. One can gain knowledge on a specific topic, but expertise is a title that can only be given. So how does one get the title of expert? Other words how do other people trust the knowledge you have accumulated. It is why self-proclaimed expertise is not respected. Here is a simple mathematical way to define influence:
Influence = (Personal Brand * Knowledge * Expertise)
How can it be measured? It can be difficult to apply direct measurements to each component, but here is a starting point.
- Measure incoming traffic from search engines
- Engagement of followers
- Age of domain
- Share statistics
- Understand influence
- Recommendations and referrals
- Endless followers on your subject matter
These are just tools to get you started measuring your presence in social networks. There is not a single tool on the market for measuring the potential from social networks. The best measure and tool is to get recommendations from friends, clients, and donors. After all, there is nothing that will beat a referral from a happy and satisfied client for uncovering future donors both online and offline.