Not every morning do I get to have a discussion with one of the most influential women in technology over bagels and coffee. That was my Friday morning at Fenton, with a group of like-mined people and Beth Kanter, the guru in marrying technology and nonprofits who has traveled around the globe – from Cambodia to Australia and the Middle East to consult organizations on using data to change the world.
The first time I saw Beth was at Mashable’s 2012 Social Good Summit, where she delivered a very short, engaging, real speech – in this very unique Beth Kanter manner – about her experience as a social media consultant for nonprofits. To me, she’s a role model. She is one of those people who has found her passion, chose a direction she wanted to go with it, and went for it.
Such organizations as the Red Cross, Greenpeace, the International Rescue Committee, and the CSR departments of Chase and Cisco were represented at the discussion. Talking about her new book “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit” (co-written with Katie Delahaye Paine), Beth mentioned several very important things, and her main message was this: Don’t be afraid of data. As we delved into Beth’s tremendous knowledge of what works and doesn’t work in social media marketing, the incredible importance of collecting, measuring and acting on data became very clear.
There is a great amount of books on social media, on top of all the social media guides that are available online. Supposedly if you follow them, your organization will get positive results from using social media. But from my personal experience managing social media for Gilt, Visual Therapy, and most recently for a nonprofit fair trade organization Global Goods Partners, this is not how it works. You can have terabytes of Google Analytics or Facebook Insights data, but they don’t mean much without proper measurement. The only way to be a successful social media marketer is to understand your specific audience: What they engage the most with, in what format, what time of the day, etc. If you’re not personal, don’t expect your social media followers to be personal with you. And the only way to be more personal and engaging is data analysis.
Here are some of my favorite Beth’s ideas from the bagel and social media for nonprofits (seriously, I can’t think of a better combo) morning:
- Don’t confuse activity and results
- Employ “Slow” social media, aka choose one platform and focus on it instead of managing five different platforms poorly
- Always set up intention for your campaign, otherwise you will not be able to measure its results
- Give the campaign enough time to develop before assessing it
For now, that’s it! I already started reading my signed copy of Beth’s book on a train ride to beautiful Connecticut this weekend. I highly recommend “Measuring the Networked Nonprofit” to anyone who’s a social media addict like me – whether you do it for a nonprofit organization, a for-profit company, or even for your personal brand. It was a pleasure meeting you, Beth!