In 2015, social media use among Americans continued to rise, with nearly two-thirds of all adults using social networking sites, according to the Pew Research Center. This number is up 7% from the first time such stats were collected in 2005. Along with increased popularity, here are a few trends with digital platforms I have noticed over the last year:
- Real-time Moments – Demand for live streaming and instant updates continues to expand.SnapChat, Periscope, and Twitter Moments are just a few examples.
- Visual Storytelling – Powerful imagery is a key for attracting and engaging audiences. Think platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest and modalities such as infographics.
- Bite-sized Content – Less is more (at least initially). With so much information to wade through online, simple, bite-sized, and easily-digestible content is a welcome relief. Buzzfeed headlines and theSkimm newsletter come to mind here.
Despite ever-evolving digital trends, the fundamentals of developing a data-informed digital strategy for your organization remain the same:
- Know your audience and key decision-makers. What do they want to see or know? What do they need?
- Have a good sense of your goal and objectives. What action do you want your audience to take? How will your data or metrics drive action or change?
- Keep it simple. There’s no one magic tool (sorry!) that does it all. Hone in on a few key data points to capture across platforms based on your audience and goals and objectives. You can capture these in a simple Excel spreadsheet that’s updated regularly (yes, it’s really that simple!).
When you understand which digital metrics to measure, how, and why, you’ll have a better sense of how to develop and grow a sustainable online presence.
Your website, blog, social media, and other digital platforms are doing really well, and you even have metrics to prove it. That’s awesome! But now what? How do you know if your efforts are worthwhile? Do you know what success looks like?
These are just a few key questions we should consistently ask ourselves as we develop and execute digital strategies that advance the missions of our organizations. Continuously evaluating our digital efforts is also important in order to demonstrate return on investment and to make the case for change or for new resources to sustain our work and take it to the next level. That’s why Briana Kerensky, Senior Digital Content Coordinator at Food & Water Watch, Matt Ott, co-founder of Black Fret, and I spoke at this past year’s Nonprofit Technology Conference about how to track and measure metrics that really matter and create concise and understandable reports that illustrate for your boss and colleagues how much you rock!
Sometimes we may feel like digital trends are evolving so quickly that it’s impossible to keep up with them all. It can be easy to get caught up in chasing the next big thing. But the secret to keeping up in an ever-evolving digital world is one four-letter word: data — that is, metrics. When you understand which digital metrics to measure and how and why to do so, as well as tracking overall trends in the sector, you can create an effective long-term digital strategy for your nonprofit.
But how do you effectively communicate all that to your less web-savvy staff, who can’t tell an exit rate from an open rate? How do you create and execute a digital strategy based on what’s working and have the proof to back it up while avoiding opening a Pandora’s box of data on unprepared staff? The last things you want to do are confuse or frustrate them and then, eventually, fail to get the buy-in you need for future projects. Our challenge is to determine which metrics matter and effectively explain and report these metrics to people who don’t spend all day on the web, in a way that doesn’t talk over or under them.
Strategies and Tools
There are a number of strategies and tools out there — from benchmarking and A/B testing, to infographics and spreadsheets. Wouldn’t you love to know which ones to use and how to make the most of them? Briana, Matt, and I will be on hand to share a few tips and tricks to wow your boss and colleagues at the 15NTC in March. During our workshop, we’ll walk through effective strategies and tools for communicating digital metrics to non-tech-savvy staff. We’ll use case studies of successes and failures from our work and yours. We’ll also dive a bit into Google Analytics, Facebook, Twitter, email platforms, and URL shorteners to discuss how to make the most of them.
At the heart of all effective communication is a solid understanding of your audience and the best way to connect with them. Once you understand a bit about which metrics to capture and how to use some of the tools and strategies we’ll discuss, we’ll walk through some tips and recommendations for communicating effectively to your boss and other stakeholders such as the following:
- Know your audience and key decision-makers
- Use data to establish or strengthen stakeholder relationships and build credibility
- Tap into your organization’s competitive nature
- Play to individual strengths and weaknesses
- Communicate regularly with stakeholders through mechanisms such as debriefs or “Think & Drinks”
If you’re struggling with demonstrating the value of your digital efforts or need a little help demonstrating to your boss and colleagues what an awesome job you’re doing, we invite you to join us to for an interactive and informative session on digital metrics. Here’s what you’ll come away with:
- A better understanding of which digital metrics to measure, how, and why
- Deeper knowledge of how to use online reporting functions from different analytics platforms
- User-friendly analytics/report templates
- Tips for simple and easy data visualization