March 13, 2014 Back to All Blogs

Listen to the Birds: What Twitter Can Teach You About Your Donors

Spend time to see the forest from the trees.When you can take some of the guesswork out of engagement, why wouldn’t you?

For years, the best expert advice on engaging with your stakeholders has focused on an active social media presence. So you had a teenager teach you about Twitter, hired a social media manager, drafted a social media policy, and then you tweeted – early and often – and hoped the investment (of time, of money) paid off. How do you know if it does?

While our social media feeds have been flooded with great pieces discussing where to engage with potential donors and clients and how important it is to be proactive when doing it, much less attention is paid to how to measure success. Just because your clever tweet is retweeted, does that define success? Was it retweeted by a donor? A potential donor? Do you have any idea if your donors liked that tweet and – more to the point – can you infer that it caused them to click donate? Trying to work this out without the big picture can make your head spin. While Donor Management Systems (DMS) like BlackBaud and DonorPerfect can help you track fundraising performance and understand the level of giving for each type of donor, you might consider augmenting your DMS with information gained from – what else? – social media itself.

We’ve talked before about how you can liberate the data you collect and use it to make smart decisions about communicating with and serving your members. How about external data? Google Analytics can track how many visitors to your donation page came from Facebook, along with whether they completed a donation, but what’s the point of collecting information if you don’t use that data? It’s hard to know exactly where the sweet spot is, to identify what created success.

Here’s a scenario to get the juices flowing: A Facebook post from last month was shared widely. At the end of the month, you discover you collected more donations that month. What do you do with this information?

  • Figure out what the post was about and then try to recreate the feel of it to see if that’s what people loved. Try out a similar tone or topic and see if it brings further traffic to your site. Was it a photo? A video? An infographic?
  • Look at when and where the donations came from and cross check those with what you were doing at the time. Was it due to the blog post, or was that a coincidence?
  • Look at social media and donor analytics side by side: did 100 people like a Facebook post and, in the same time frame, did donations increase?
  • Look at your web analytics: did you notice that most of the people entering your site at that time come from Facebook?

There it is! You’ve just found a way to use your data; now you know that type of post on Facebook inspires people to come to your website. Now, you can try it again in your next campaign and see if it makes a splash. Get creative, and then trust yourself to surmise; you might be surprised what you can learn.

While data can be used to create digestible analytics on a myriad of subjects, don’t forget to step back every once in a while and look at all of those analytics to see the connections. Don’t be afraid to reach into a separate part of your organization and compare notes. Take the initiative and try contacting your members or donors while having eyes in each department checking their own analytics to see what works best. Debrief afterwards and see if it’s a tactic that should be used again. You have so many programs and products at your fingertips; use them to their full advantage.