Maybe your sales are up. Maybe you have a few new Facebook fans or YouTube subscribers. Maybe people are tweeting positive vibes about your brand.
All of that is a good thing, right? Well, sure.
But how do you really know if your inbound marketing is working?
Beth Kanter, a longtime champion of social integration in the nonprofit world, makes a compelling case for thinking differently about the ROI (return on investment) of your digital media. Instead of focusing on the return, Kanter advocates measuring the change.
As Kanter explains:
ROI is as an acronym for a business term, Return on Investment. It was created in the 1920s as a financial measure developed by DuPont and used by Alfred Sloan to make General Motors manageable. It is a flow chart that calculates business performance taking into account not only whether the company had a profit, but whether that profit was good enough relative to the assets it took to generate it. Over those 90 years, the chart has been polished, refined and so deeply embedded in business thinking that Wall Street views it as the only legitimate means of measuring business performance.
Should we be using an industrial measurement model in a digitally networked age? Should nonprofits use a narrow ROI definition in their quest to improve program results? Why not apply a “Theory of Change” method?
Good question. And your answer depends on your real reason for getting social.
Are you focused on fundraising, merchandising or sales?
Do you want to increase public awareness of a specific cause or situation?
Does your media need to inspire your donors, your volunteers, and even your own employees?
If you can articulate what your true goals are, and you can identify how far (or close) you are to achieving them, you can more clearly see all the ways your social outreach efforts can help you achieve those goals in ways that go beyond simple metrics.
We often refer to this online outreach as inbound marketing, but the truth is, engaging with your customers and supporters goes deeper than simply “marketing” to them. What you’re really doing is building a community with a shared purpose.
Whether you’re a for-profit business or a not-for-profit organization, your reason for existing isn’t just to be profitable or solvent; it’s to delight your “customers”, solve their problems and enrich their lives. And engaging with them through a wide variety of social channels is what helps you build the legacy of your brand, one message at a time.
For example, Apple may be a computer company, but the world’s reaction to the passing of Steve Jobs has proven that the impact his ideas and products have had on the planet run far deeper than motherboards and touchscreens. His customers — and even his detractors — view Apple as a lifestyle company, and the decisions Apple makes, from pricing to presentation, reinforce that perception.
How clear is your company’s vision? And how can your social outreach bring you closer to the people, the accomplishments, and the change that you’re truly passionate about?
Need help focusing your company’s vision? We can help.