listening, metrics, social media strategy

Mapping Social Media Strategy to Metrics – Blogging NTC 2009

12 Comments 04 May 2009

L-R: Sarah Granger, Beth Kanter (standing), Qui Diaz, Danielle Brigida, Wendy Harmon

L-R: Sarah Granger, Beth Kanter (standing), Qui Diaz, Danielle Brigida, Wendy Harmon

I had the privilege to attend the 2009 NTC Conference session entitled, “Mapping Social Media Strategy to Metrics: Listen, Learn, Adapt.” Beth Kanter was the featured moderator and speaker. Other panelists included Danielle Brigida (National Wildlife Federation), Wendy Harmon (American Red Cross), Qui Diaz (Livingston Communications) and Sarah Granger (Future Campaigns). The session was set up as a moderated discussion – and I mean discussion with Q and A – between Beth, the panelists and the audience about the role of listening, metrics, learning and adapting social media practices for engagement and listening. She started the session by noting that she wanted to “bring the room expertise forward,” and I think that really expresses her style of moderation. The audience was also encouraged to twitter using the hashtag #ntcmap to add to the conversation. For further thoughts from Beth Kanter about the session and to view her slides from the session, visit Beth’s Blog. Additionally, Rob Cottingham created great visual notes from this session here.

I found the session incredibly informative: it was rich with real social media campaign examples, uses of metrics, listening tools and techniques and – most importantly – real sharing. I left the session armed with a great list of new listening tools, the importance of listening and learning from it and the sense that we are all still struggling with the best way to use social media for insight and its utility. However, this is my most important take-away: this is all new and we will all fail using social media in some way, but

Failure is just an opportunity to Adapt. Adaptation is real success.

These are the notes that I took during the session:

The Listen, Learn, Adapt phrase was borrowed from David Armano, who also has a blog. David says we need to reap INSIGHT before we can reap dollars, which seems to be the fundamental underpinning of Listen, Learn, Adapt.

How and why does listening provide value?

Wendy: It is our foundation. The ARC is mentioned over 400 times a day. Listening gives us insight about how people feel about us and what they want from us.
Danielle: It is the foundation. We have a place to act. We are nothing unless someone else thinks we are something.
Qui: Listening is important because it lays the foundation for effective strategy, it also helps you evolve strategy and campaigns.
Sarah: Listening has two parts- listen to community and members for quality, and utilize the quantitative statistics we have received.

Then the audience wanted to know more about the mechanics of listening, which I found very informative. Here are some ideas:

Beth:”Use your RSS reader like a rock star.” Make RSS feed from hashtags and keywords from twitter. She shares some things, skims a lot, and deletes liberally. She urges people not to read hours’ worth of material. “You don’t have to smell every flower as you leap through the field.”Wendy: I aggregate and distribute the data as appropriate for internal audience in the field. We gather data per region.

Beth: how manage the data? Answer (A): practice! Beth: how do you share the info? A: We gather data each morning, distribute it in emails to the appropriate people internally, If it involves a sensitive issue, we contact the appropriate person. Wendy sources the information and sends out daily summaries. Beth: is that useful to get people to buy into value of social media? A: Yes, they have an ambient awareness of what people are saying about us at minimum.

Danielle: We use a Delicious (social bookmarking platform) account. For every mention, we tag it with “education” and “program name” and then count the # blog mentions. Internal staff looks at it by keywords to see the mentions per day.

Sarah: Google alerts are helpful. We develop an online page to keep track of the mentions per campaigns and organization.

Qui: For our larger clients or brands, we need reports. We set up media citation reports – similar to media clippings. This could be a document with a clip about a blogger and metrics (their Technorati authority,etc) about the blogger and a response recommendation.

Insight/Knowledge sharing on listening from audience members:
Joe Soloman (@engagejoe):  Netvibes is a great tool. Create tabs of different RSS items you follow and make it open for others to listen.

Amy Sample Ward: uses Netvibes and is writing a blog post about Netvibes to be published soon.

Dmitri: Feed Digest customizes feeds and tags. Reposts on twitter and FB to groups. etc. is his site.

Follow up:  number of hours of week spent by panelists just listening?

Wendy:  2-3 hours in AM of concentrated, then “ears open” through out day. At least 10 hours focused listening a week.

Danielle: 5 hours a week – one hour every morning. I organize my work flow with Google Alerts and use the RSS reader in AM.

Qui: I encourage small nonprofits to dedicate a 1/2 person  to the job, 10 hours a week for monitoring and response.

Sarah: Our nonprofit is heavily online. I listen 15% of the time.

Beth: There is more listening info at the We Are Media wiki – see listening toolbox. Also search Beth’s blog in the category on listening.

What is the learning process from social media and how do the panelists involve their organizations in the process?

Danielle: NWF learning is ad hoc. Our learning process favors qualitative data over quantitative data. We compare qualitative information to the quantitative data and move on from there.

Qui: Listening is everybody’s job. You want to make sure everyone listens and can take what they are hearing to right responder.
Sarah: We share qualitative data by email. Track, analyze, report with excel spread sheets.

Audience Insights on sharing learning process:
Lynn from Monterrey Institute: We use Yammer. It’s like “twitter for groups.” It is open source and great for information sharing.
Amy Sample WardNet Squared has 3.5 people over 4.5 time zones. They use Delicious and send tags to each other. People send links to different staff.

Using Metrics to Track Strategy: Real Case Examples

What are some specific stories of using right metrics to track a strategy?
Wendy: It is important to measure what  your metrics will tell you if you have reached your goal. Our goal is to offer real-time, valuable information to the public in times of disaster. We aggregate information and post it to a blog and on twitter. We  measure whether or not we are helping people and if they got this information. We also measure whether or not the media also uses our site. Specifically, we measure # retweets (manually), # members of the media that use our site.

Danielle: We measure the Wildlife Watch program. We ask people to tweet #nwf/(name of wildlife they see). We measure with We use url shortners ( or to track retweets. Laura Lee Dooley (World Resources Institute) wrote a post about URL shortners from a measurement perspective.

Qui: Offers a corporate case study. Network Solutions (a domain names provider) had negative brand perception. They had to change their reputation. We assessed the current brand conversations  and found that they had a 58% negative comment and blog ratio. We used some tools (she recommends Radian 6 for about $500 a month, but it does misses some things) but the best is to search manually on all the platforms (such as icerocket. twitter, board tracker, etc). We knew the baseline metric: 58%.  They implemented a campaign to counter this. The metric after the campaign was around was 18%. (Editorial note: I wrote about this specific campaign previously here.)

Organizational Resistance to Social Media: Strategies for Adoption

Audience question for panel: Share a story about when metrics are impressive but the boss doesn’t get it.
Danielle: At NWF we started with activist change. Of the many people on NWF’s  MySpace, only 400 people were interested in becoming activists, which was disappointing. It’s important to listen to what EVERYONE is saying to get good ideas. Even one good idea. I was in wrong department looking at revenue at NWF and converts, but switching to the educational department was the right place for new media.
Sarah: The key is biting off small pieces and educating people step by step. Find a champion and work with that person.
Beth: Organizational change is slow. Discussions change opinions.

Analytics Questions from the Audience

1. How do you deal with folks that just click and nothing else?

Beth: Look at cocreation networks online. Shows ladder of engagement and an overlay of # views and influence. You want all of them in your eco system. Probably have less influence than the people who are spreading.

Danielle: look at WHAT they are clicking on. for ex- if just educate.
Qui- if click through, give them good “calls to act” with opportunities to engage with the organization on the other end.

2. What are the ways of capturing offline data points to influence social media stuff? Do you collect offline data to measure online social media?
Danielle: every program has an offline component. All offline components have an online component. Example: if you are outside, have smart phone, and see wildlife, you can and tweet about wildlife with nwf hashtag.
Wendy: if you are online, you will often write about an offline activity. Example: people donate blood and write about it.

Qui: Do an initial qualitative assessment. Ask how people initially use the web and computer, and then ask later how they’ve changed behavior.

Adapting – “we’re evolving!” Examples of Listen, Learn and Adapt

Beth shares a great “adapting social media after listening” story by Carie Lewis of the Humane Society of US (HSUS). HSUS asked people to hold a sign meme to protest Wendy’s restaurant’s treatment of animals, and upload photos to Flickr. Only 2 or 3 people did it because of technical issues uploading to Flickr. Failure? Not exactly. HSUS listened online as people complained about difficulty to upload it.
How  did HSUS adapt?
When they created their LOL Seals campaign and made it as easy as possible to upload and caption photos. Used a Flickr API to upload a photos that people could caption, and they captured the user information too, such as  2500 email addresses. What is that value?
How has HSUS further evolved its use of social media?

HSUS then wondered if their main target group was really on Facebook (55+ women), so they developed a Facebook application: upload a photo of your cute pet, ask people to vote on which pet is cutest, and raise money for Humane society. Garnered 13,000 installations, which spread the information about the contest. HSUS raised about $600K through it.

Qui- Network Solutions example. They reached out to people, and looked at who referred the most traffic for an online event. Now NS knows who will send the traffic and this will streamline its time investment. They initially tried to use Linkedin but it sent no one to site, so they’ve learned and will not use it for that again.
Danielle: We tweak our social media strategies all the time. Can’t ever be satisfied. With a Twitter hashtag, when more people use it, it’s part of wildlife watch program and up on website.
Wendy: We have few campaigns because want to build overall presence on platforms. We tweak constantly. Look back two years and we can see how we operated differently, but this was accomplished through incremental changes.

Beth: How does your organization look at learning, and change it from failure?
Danielle: There is no failure. Have to learn from everything. Have to assess investment continuously.

Beth: Sometimes it’s easier to change the social media strategy than the organization. Has anyone in the panel seen an example of how the organization has been changed by its use of social media?

Danielle: Initially I was the outcast because of my advocacy of social media. I needed organizational buy-in. I have to continuously track it. I advise that you fight for this within your organization, and keep doing it. I’ve changed my role and I still do email marketing, but I’m also an internal consultant when programs start. Now I say: if people don’t like social media, don’t start with them and find someone else who wants to use it.

Sarah: I worked with an organization that had some social media protesters. But as new people were hired, the adoption increased.
Beth: I’m an early adopter but working with resisters now. I’m learning from it and hope to write about it.

What the panel has learned today:
Wendy: If you are really interested and can see opportunities for the organization, just try it and adapt and learn.
Danielle: How metrics “bubble up” from using them.
Qui- Listen to voice of minority, too. There has to be a decision-maker in the org, too.
Sarah- Find others, colleagues and talk and learn from them.
Beth- Place your AV order ahead of time!

What Did You Learn from This Session (from reading this blog post, or in person at the session)?



Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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