Posted by Andrew VanderPloeg
I think it’s fair to say that you will probably never find a line item in your accounting records indicating that your blog or Twitter account resulted in a specific number of sales or donor dollars – it just doesn’t work that way.
This fact is reinforced by the research cited in this article based on the question: “How often do you refer to social media websites or features as a resource for information, reviews, or recommendations when in the market for [category]?”
What I love most about this article though, is a comment posted on June 3 that reads:
Isn't asking the question "do you turn to Social Media when making purchasing decisions?" to determine the effectiveness of "marketing" on social network sites akin to asking "do you get in your car and drive when making purchasing decisions?" in order to determine the effectiveness of billboards and other on-road advertising?
Just because users don't go to social networking sites to help them make purchasing decisions doesn't mean that their purchasing decisions aren't influenced by marketing on social networking sites.
Or that a company presence on a social network site doesn't lead to direct sales (i.e. through product announcements than can be tracked directly to specific sales).
This comment get’s to the heart of the misunderstanding and misuse of social media in corporate and organizational contexts. It’s not just about a direct tie to a bottom-line on your spreadsheet. It’s about branding. It’s about creating a relationship with a person outside of the confines of a sale or a donor pitch that does translate into an awareness which impacts decision-making later on.
For those of you that rely on donor dollars to do the work that you do; it’s hard…if not impossible to walk into a room of people and in one pitch, build enough of a rapport to ask them for money in any effective way. But if the people you were engaging were already engaged and primed for your message via your blog or Twitter account – you could skip the basics get on with the business of telling the compelling story about your work.
This is the bottom line of social media – hard to measure and well worth the effort.