social media strategy

Gauging Social Success Readiness

10 Comments 02 October 2013

Venn Strategy

Recently I set out to think about the significant internal and external elements that must be present for organizational social media readiness. I’m teaching a graduate class on social media strategy at Marlboro College, and challenged myself to create a dynamic illustration – a tool even – that would offer an estimate of the relative preparedness of any organization to successfully engage in social media.

Notice what the diagram does not include: strategy and tactics. These are not included because they would be realized as a result of this diagram. This diagram is, simply, a list of ingredients. And like any ingredient, its performance depends on the level of purity, flavor, chemical balance, and what not.

If I were to take this general diagram, and convert it into a tool for gauging readiness, I’d add scale and value to each element. Something equivalent to this optimization scale for each piece of the diagram:

ready for social optimization scale blog image 10.1.13An organization’s general diagram might receive a “social media readiness” score of anywhere from 0 to 14. Each separate element of the diagram (including goals) would be scored along a continuum, in this case from zero to two. Another way to think of this scale would be as a general social media audit resource. Now, I haven’t used this as a tool, though as you can read, I am beginning to think about how it might be used as such. I’d welcome your feedback and input.

An explanatory note on each element of the diagram, which can be modified and adjusted to create value scales:

Internally Networked: How much does the organization resemble a “networked nonprofit,” as described by Beth Kanter and Allison Fine in their book?

Time and Internal Assets: How much time will the organization be able to devote exclusively to social media strategy and execution? What are the internal assets available for doing so? (personnel, training and support, databases, etc. to be determined)

Audience/Stakeholders: Is the organization able to identify categories of stakeholders within each social channel? For example, has it figured out who is the primary audience for Instagram, or the blog, and who’s following/commenting/etc?

External Networks and Social Capital: Does the organization connect externally with other networks, collaborators, partners? It is highly networked in this way online or off? Does the organization or staff hold high or low levels of social capital online or off? They are considered together within this element because of the relationship between the two, but could easily be separated into two. This element recognizes the role of Small World Network Theory, social capital, and network weaving in social media success.

Channels: Social media platforms or channels.

Budget: The size of the budget to support social media initiatives.



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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