Conversations Are Not Quantifiable: Social Media ROI

Establishing a social media marketing plan requires heaps of work. Of course you want to know how much you’re getting out of all the hard work you’re putting into one. But the trouble with boiling down ROI on a social marketing effort is, “… you are trying to put numeric quantities around human interactions and conversations, which are not quantifiable.”

This is according to a helpful post from Jason Falls, who writes for Social Media Explorer. He says every session on measuring ROI in social media is a waste of time. That seems extreme to me – it’s only a waste if your “return” is monetary – but I understand his point. Embarking on a social media plan is more about getting out there and joining in the conversation than converting sales.

But it makes sense for churches, synagogues and non-profits, where the goal is to join in the conversation. The point is to figure out how you’re going to quantify your social effort.

“Thirsty Koala” Lesson in Online Donations

Nothing wrenches the heart like a dehydrated koala. I know I’ve watched the koala drinking water on the YouTube Bush Fire Tragedy Crisis video at least a dozen times since it went up.

It’s sweet and heartrending, but it’s also a great lesson by in the power of the video, the web and asking for money when you need it. This isn’t just a YouTube video. It also contains a plea from Victoria, Australia’s RSPCA for animal welfare donations and a note that international donations are welcome. It’s working. People from all over the world have given a money – sometimes just a few dollars – to help. It’s adding up to a lot more support than this koala would receive if it hadn’t starred on the web.

But it’s also a lesson in making sure your backend is capable of handling a sudden influx of support. The RSPCA servers are having trouble accepting all the donations that are coming in. If you have a cause for money (especially if it involves a desperately cute cuddly animal that drinks from a bottle while holding your hand), make sure you have a backup plan for taking donations when they’re offered.

See the video:

The Perfect (and Worst) LinkedIn Profiles

Writing a standout profile on LinkedIn is s a little like writing a resume. There are sure-fire mistakes you can make, but a really good one is harder to define.

I was talking about what makes a good profile with an author of a book on job hunting and social media (McGraw-Hill is publishing it in October, and I’m featured in it, so stay tuned for an update). The perfect profile is one that meets your goals. If you’re a new organization, does it inform and connect people back to your website? If you’re looking to make sales or raise funds, does it connect you to hundreds of people so you can extend your reach?

First think about what why you want to have a LinkedIn profile, and then think about the most useful things to include on it.

As for the mistakes, here are three that top my list:

  • Weird or blurry pictures. LinkedIn pesters you to upload a picture, but don’t give in if you don’t have anything good to upload. Something that’s blurry or shows you looking anything but crisp and professional is a no-no. Employees and clients check out this page, so be aware of that. Opt for nothing over something odd.
  • Poor punctuation. You wouldn’t add a bunch of open brackets or incorrectly spaced hyphens in your resume. Why would you on your profile? It may be in answer to an effort to cram in more information – or for some other reason I can’t imagine – but some people are too sloppy/creative with their postings. Make it clean.
  • Skimpy information. You don’t have to divulge everything about your personal life on LinkedIn (nor should you), but put something meaty on there. Don’t do it just to do it. Nothing at all is better than a half-written profile.

See my profile on LinkedIn.

A Simple Case for a Social Media Program

People frequently ask me why it’s worth it to start some kind of social media program, such as beginning a blog, setting up a Twitter account or establishing a Facebook group. I can go through case study after case study to show why it can offer a good ROI, but I came across this useful analogy on the WebWorkerDaily blog yesterday:

You would never leave a business meeting, lunch, coffee, etc., without exchanging business cards with the other party, would you? Even if it’s a sales call that wasn’t particularly promising, you leave the card, and hope your name comes to mind when they need something down the road.

At the very least, having a social media presence makes you available. Why not show up where people are looking?

Tips on Using Twitter


Twitter is both addictive and inescapable. I’m always talking with fellow Tweeters I know to figure out how to use it best (like by keeping up with friends and colleagues) without having it take over my every waking minute (like by reading every post about what someone’s eating for lunch).

Paul Boag from writes a nice post on Smashing Magazine’s blog that has a few tips on how to use it well.

Oh, and if you’re not already, you can follow me on Twitter too.

Get Ready! The Social Media Report Is Coming

[UPDATE: It’s ready! Pick up your copy here]

If your nonprofit isn’t using social media yet, it’s time to think about it! A new report from Talance due February 2009 explores how non-profits in Massachusetts are using social media – or if they’re using it at all. Sign up for notification.

The report is based on a benchmarking survey conducted in November 2008 among Massachusetts non-profits and covers:

  • Social media adoption rates
  • The importance of social media for non-profits on fund-raising, marketing and community-building
  • How people are learning about social media
  • Future trends in social media

A few early results reveal:

  • While more than half of respondents are familiar with blogs, the majority are only vaguely familiar with microblogging sites such as Twitter
  • 65% of respondents either are currently using or plan to use blogs
  • Only 20% consider social media unimportant to donor engagement

Free Findings

Anyone can request a free executive summary of the survey results when they become available in February. You can also order the complete text, including charts and graphics. Sign up to receive notification of publication so you can reserve your copy.

This report will be updated on a regular basis. We are conscious that things are changing incredibly quickly in this industry. If you feel there are other questions or information that should be included, please contact us.