Posts Tagged ‘Beth Kanter’

Are you measuring what matters?

Having just led a lively author interview with social media measurement gurus, Beth Kanter and Katie Paine, about their latest book, Measuring the Networked Nonprofit, you can imagine what a timely surprise it was to read this morning’s headline, “Why your social media metrics are a waste of time” by Ivory Madison in the Harvard Business Review blog.

“Vanity metrics” are false idols. Ivory says, “If you think page views, unique visitors, registered members, conversion rates, email-newsletter open rates, number of Twitter followers, or Facebook likes are important by themselves, you probably have no idea what you’re doing. Those metrics are the most common false idols of analytics. They’re what Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup, calls ‘vanity metrics.’”

Ask “So what?” Vanity metrics are tempting to tout, but they don’t measure what really matters, explains Ivory. Our featured authors at CausePlanet agree. Ivory, Kanter and Paine claim you have to ask “So what?” when you look at your metrics. Before you get excited about thousands of Facebook fans, ask yourself what metric actually reflects a connection between increased donations and the prompt you provided on your social media network.

Measure what matters. In the social sector, we know that relationship building is the prequel to the main event: giving. It’s no different with social networks, says Paine. Interact with your online community just like you would at a social event in person. Demonstrate humanity, transparency and passion when sharing about your cause. Measure what matters, say Kanter and Paine. Measure how your relationships move up the engagement ladder so your community is there for you when you need them, the authors add.

Read more about Kanter and Paine’s advice in our recent posts about Measuring the Networked Nonprofit. You can purchase their book at www.wiley.com or read a summary in our latest Page to Practice™ feature of the book. Check out the summary store or subscribe to the library for full access to all of our recommended titles.

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More Page to Practice™ recommended reading about social media and marketing

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Social media measurement: Avoid the most common mistakes

When I read a book for CausePlanet, one of my favorite tasks is highlighting great quotes or passages that underscore important themes. We call these “keeper quotes.” In Measuring the Networked Nonprofit by Beth Kanter and Katie Paine, there were so many to choose from. Here’s one that made it into our Page to Practice™ book summary:

“The most important thing to remember about measurement tools is that they will do only what you tell them to do. Collecting data is easy, but collecting the right data to answer your questions requires careful planning and appropriate tools. There are currently more than 250 tools that a networked nonprofit can choose from to measure its results.”

Kanter and Paine’s sentiments about measurement planning are paramount. In fact, when I asked them in our author interview about common nonprofit mistakes, the issue was raised again. Join me in learning from the mistakes our authors have observed:

CP: What is the most common mistake nonprofits make when attempting to measure their social media activity?

Kanter: Many nonprofits start with the data collection tools or the data. This is natural because it is way more fun to talk about the tools and collect data than to figure out what works and to really think about what your data means and how to apply it. I’ve decided I want a t-shirt that says, “Spend More Time Thinking About Your Data Than Collecting It!”

Paine: I totally agree with Beth. The worst mistake I’ve ever seen was a nonprofit that called me in to help it define its metrics. At the end of an eight-hour conversation that defined its metrics as increasing messaging and increasing engagement with employees, the staff asked me if the new “platform” – for which it had just written a  -$60,000 check would measure what it intended to measure. I was very familiar with the tool and sadly it did not.

The other big mistake nonprofits make is to not bring their different data streams together. They frequently have member data siloed from web analytics which is further siloed from media results. In fact, it is only when you bring the three together and correlate what tactic has the biggest impact do you get the real insights.

CausePlanet members: Register for our live interview on Monday, December 17 with Kanter and Paine. You can purchase this book at www.josseybass.com or download our summary and interview at the summary store or subscribe to our library of recommended titles.

More book titles about social media

Illustration credit: Rob Cottingham

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Kanter and Paine share their favorite book passages

Creating social change is everyone’s goal within a nonprofit organization. Authors Kanter and Paine argue you can’t get there without a map. “Measurement is your map and metrics are your signposts.” Furthermore, they claim connecting people, deepening their engagement and inspiring donations are relatively easy to measure.

While nonprofits realize social media is a cost-effective tool for growing their base of friends and supporters, they must set goals and strategically network online just like they would with in-person donor cultivation. In my interview with Kanter and Paine about Measuring the Nonprofit Network, I asked them about their favorite chapters in the book as well as what was left on the editing floor. You’ll appreciate their insights and surprising answers to the questions below.

CausePlanet: In your opinion, what’s the most important chapter in the book?

Kanter: I think my favorite chapter is the chapter on becoming data-informed. My big “aha” moment was when I spent several days interviewing the staff at DoSomething.org and speaking with some of the board members (http://www.bethkanter.org/switch-data-driven/). They are the poster children for being data-informed. That led to contemplating the practices of what being data-informed looks like at different levels. The other important chapter is chapter five where we talk about defining the value of using networked approaches and social media–understanding the difference between activity and results.

Paine: From a writing perspective, I loved pulling together the chapters on influence and transparency because we were really pushing the envelope there, suggesting measures no one is really using yet. In terms of the reader, it’s chapter nine–getting to that “aha” moment–which to me is the greatest seductress of measurement.

CausePlanet: What ideas were left on the editing floor and perhaps we’ll see in your next book?

Kanter: I’m not sure I’ll write another book–just joking. My next book will not come from the stuff we edited out of this book, but it will come from ideas that have been percolating with me since I turned in the manuscript! I am most interested in the notion of learning from failure and how nonprofits can embrace innovation by adapting more creative ways to plan, manage and adapt their programs.

Paine: Beth’s contacts exposed me to so many wonderful measurement case studies. The next book will be something about “Tales from the Measurement Trenches,” telling more of the stories that didn’t fit into the book.

CausePlanet members: Register for our live interview on Monday, December 17 with Kanter and Paine. You can purchase this book at www.josseybass.com or download our summary and interview at the summary store or subscribe to our library of recommended titles.

More book titles about social media

Illustration credit: Rob Cottingham

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Kanter and Paine share their favorite social media insights

Creating social change is everyone’s goal within a nonprofit organization. Authors Kanter and Paine argue you can’t get there without a map. “Measurement is your map and metrics are your signposts.” Furthermore, they claim connecting people, deepening their engagement and inspiring donations are relatively easy to measure. While nonprofits realize social media is a cost-effective tool for growing their base of friends and supporters, they must set goals and strategically network online just like they would with in-person donor cultivation. In my interview with Kanter and Paine about Measuring the Nonprofit Network, I asked them about their favorite chapters in the book as well as what was left on the editing floor. You’ll appreciate their insights and surprising answers to the questions below.

CausePlanet: In your opinion, what’s the most important chapter in the book?

Kanter: I think my favorite chapter is the chapter on becoming data-informed. My big “aha” moment was when I spent several days interviewing the staff at DoSomething.org and speaking with some of the board members. They are the poster children for being data-informed. That led to contemplating the practices of what being data-informed looks like at different levels. The other important chapter is chapter five where we talk about defining the value of using networked approaches and social media–understanding the difference between activity and results.

Paine: From a writing perspective, I loved pulling together the chapters on influence and transparency because we were really pushing the envelope there, suggesting measures no one is really using yet. In terms of the reader, it’s chapter nine–getting to that “aha” moment–which to me is the greatest seductress of measurement.

CausePlanet: What ideas were left on the editing floor and perhaps we’ll see in your next book?

Kanter: I’m not sure I’ll write another book–just joking. My next book will not come from the stuff we edited out of this book, but it will come from ideas that have been percolating with me since I turned in the manuscript! I am most interested in the notion of learning from failure and how nonprofits can embrace innovation by adapting more creative ways to plan, manage and adapt their programs.

Paine: Beth’s contacts exposed me to so many wonderful measurement case studies. The next book will be something about “Tales from the Measurement Trenches,” telling more of the stories that didn’t fit into the book.

We’re obviously in store for more great things from Kanter and Paine. CausePlanet members, register for the live interview with these measurement experts on Monday, December 17. You can purchase their book at www.josseybass.com or download our Page to Practice summary and interview at the summary store or subscribe to our library of recommended titles. Watch for our next installment of our Page to Practice interview with Kanter and Paine in our blog.

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More book titles about social media
Illustration credit: Rob Cottingham

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Social media measurement: art, science or both?

It’s not very often when we recommend a book that we get double the enjoyment of recommending its sequel. In the case of Measuring the Networked Nonprofit, more is actually better. Its forerunner, The Networked Nonprofit, is an exceptional resource for nonprofits that are breaking ground in social media and expanding their circles of influence on various social platforms.

We’re delighted to bring you highlights of Beth Kanter and Katie Delahaye Paine’s fresh views on measuring your social media to further mission impact. Today I give you some insightful interview highlights on the art and science of measurement as well as their most important take away:

CausePlanet: Can you talk about the art versus science of measurement?

Kanter: As we say in the book, measurement is a formal discipline, governed by rules and processes established by academics and researchers. You don’t need a Ph.D. from MIT and pocket protector to measure your nonprofit’s social media and networked approaches. Far from it. But casual approaches are a waste of time. You have to use the formal approach or “KD Paine’s Seven Steps of Measurement.” I think the art part is the interpretation and understanding of your data to improve your program’s results.

There is a tension between the formal process of measurement and the innovation required for networked approaches. Measurement is definitely a left-brained activity: very linear, very structured, very disciplined. On the other hand, networked approaches can be very organic, creative and right-brained. So that’s another way to look at the art and science–I think you need both ways of doing and thinking in a nonprofit to be successful, which requires new ideas, reflection and improvement of what you do.

Paine: For me, the art is definitely in the interpretation: figuring out what the data really means. I’m a creative type locked in a quant body, and I have the most fun looking at data and finding that “aha” moment, so it doesn’t just come from number crunching. It comes from understanding the projects and the mission as well as the metrics.

CausePlanet: What’s the most important idea you want our readers to take away from your book?

Kanter: That nonprofits, no matter whether they are small or large, can get started with doing measurement themselves! And to start with baby steps so it becomes an organizational habit. The “Crawl, Walk, Run, Fly” framework we describe in chapter two is something I have used in my  nonprofit technology work for the past 20 years. If nonprofits want to embrace a new technology or embed a new way of working, whether it be becoming a networked nonprofit or using measurement and data to learn how to improve what they’re doing- they have to do it with small, incremental steps.

Paine: Do NOT worry about the tools. Focus on finding a clear definition of your SMART objectives and defining the really meaningful metrics. Tools and platforms are the last thing you should consider but only after you’ve defined the goals, the metrics, the stakeholders and the benchmarks.

Watch for details about our live interview in January with Kanter and Paine. You can purchase this book at www.josseybass.com or download our summary and interview at the summary store or subscribe to our library of recommended titles.

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Social network crowds: Turn your concert into a studio performance

One of the most interesting passages in The Networked Nonprofit for me personally was the discussion about mapping your social network. Being online sometimes feels like watching a performance in a huge venue. You are soaking up the general energy of the crowd, sharing in applause and yes, humming along (thank goodness I’m drowned out by numbers).

And then you map your network.

What was a concert for the masses turns into a studio performance just for you and a group of fellow fans while the artists ask you for any special requests. In other words, all the key players of the performance come to life and it becomes clear you all have a lot in common—a shared interest in the music, which will translate into other interests and so on.

The same holds true for your online network. By mapping who the real fans are of common interests, you identify who you want to continue connecting with on those topics and promoting collective knowledge.

Beth Kanter and Allison Fine, authors of The Networked Nonprofit talk about how to map your network and we have featured their book in this month’s Page to Practice on CausePlanet. As part of the Page to Practice, we include an author interview. Below is an excerpt of the interview where we asking about mapping, hubs, crowds and loops.

CausePlanet: Because a small percentage of visitors will always do the overwhelming amount of content on a site, at what point can a nonprofit begin testing participatory campaigns? In other words, do they need critical mass before they begin with “crowd voting” or “crowd creation” for example?

Kanter and Fine: There are no set and fast rules for engaging your crowd or constituency online. It is important to set everyone’s expectations at realistic levels when beginning. If you are just starting, then it is reasonable to expect tens, not thousands or millions, will vote on an issue on your site or blog. And, tens is just great because it means that you are connected to people who are actively engaged in your conversation, they care about your issue and want to participate. But the only way to really know the size and interests of your crowd is to try it out, to participate in a fundraising contest or ask for ideas, learn from that experience and try again.

CausePlanet: Your section on mapping is terrific. Where do you recommend nonprofits focus their energy first after mapping their social networks? The productive hubs or the opportunities among the periphery?

Kanter and Fine: In the use of mapping for a social media strategy, the analysis will reveal who the organization’s key influencers are. The next step after that is to start cultivating them. Here’s a post where I wrote about some more steps to take.

CausePlanet: Can you talk about the importance of learning loops and how to avoid “analytophilia?”

Kanter and Fine: As mentioned above, the key for organizations inching their way into this new world is to summon the courage to try a small experiment, learn and try again. Beth has written a lot about this process on her blog over the past few years which emphasizes the importance of listen, learn, and adapt to social media success. That is the essence of learning loops, an ongoing process of assessing the use of social media in order to learn and improve over time. Alexandra Samuel coined the phrase, “analytophilia” in a post for the Harvard Business Review, and it refers to unproductive efforts associated with measuring social media effectiveness when using inappropriate measures. It is so easy to plug into an enormous number of measurement and analytics tools and very hard to focus on answering important questions. Alexandra’s advice is right on the money in terms of focusing on a hypothesis: what is it you are trying to accomplish and how will you know you are making progress?

This is the hard work of measurement. Once you have defined what you are trying to measure, then using existing analytics tools or gathering data the old fashioned way through interviews or surveys or focus groups is relatively easy. In the end, it all comes back to organizational learning, which is only possible, as we discuss in the book, within organizations that reward rather than punish unexpected results.

Learn more about The Networked Nonprofit and our Page to Practice book summary.

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Finding time is the new hitch

One of my colleagues came to a social media workshop where I presented highlights from a book we featured in 2007 called Citizen Marketers. Her question afterward struck a chord with me because it reminded me of how I felt when I started experimenting on Twitter. She asked me “How am I going to find time for social networking when I’ve got an overwhelming schedule already?”

I think this is how a lot of us felt early on until we started to hear from authors like Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell of Citizen Marketers or more recently, from Beth Kanter and Allison Fine of The Networked Nonprofit.

We began to connect the dots and realize that because social media presented a world of opportunity if we were willing to make time and strategically incorporate our online networking into the way we already do business. And, that social networking could boost our outcomes in many areas like fundraising, public relations, constituency communication, and advocacy.

And even those of us who try to keep the time we spend online at bay, more myths are debunked about social media, including just how many of us are online. More recently, my sister got involved in a community emissions campaign to increase carpooling and asked “Can I really use social media to reach all ages?”

In Kivi Leroux Miller’s new book, The Nonprofit Marketing Guide she says “The biggest increase in Internet use between 2005 and 2008 was within the seventy- to seventy-five-year-old age group and the gap between their usage and other generations is closing quickly.” So it’s time to embrace all that social media can accomplish for nonprofits—even if it requires finding the time. In the spirit of those who are still hedging, I’ve included an excerpt of this month’s Page to Practice™ where Beth Kanter and Allison Fine talk about taking the first step in social media and how they got started as early adopters.

CausePlanet: What advice do you have for readers who are under-resourced and over-extended but want to take the first step toward social media?

Kanter and Fine: They have already started. Everyone has a website, is using email and cell phones. Many are reading blog posts and have set up an account on Facebook. One important first step, and an easy one, is to start to systematically listen to what others are saying about your issue and your organization. Listening includes reading blogs, following influencers on Facebook and Twitter and reading what they say and the articles that they link to. Then an organization can decide what it wants to say online and for what purpose. It does not have to be terribly time-consuming to get started, but it helps tremendously to be purposeful.

CausePlanet: Rather than try to use all social media avenues, you make the point of choosing which work best for you personally. Which tools appealed to each of you when you began working heavily in social media and why?

Fine: We were both early adopters, so at that time, five years ago or so, blogs were the way into social media. I still blog, but my favorite channel of the moment is Twitter because it’s so easy to get in and out. My key influences (like Beth!) save me huge amounts of time by pointing out interesting articles and blog posts, and 140 characters forces everyone to just get to the point!

Kanter: When I first got started, I took on one tool at a time and lived in it until it was second nature. I tend to gravitate toward visual tools because I’m a visual thinker. One of my favorites is Flickr, especially because I do a lot of presentations and I find the creative commons licenses photos really valuable.

Learn more about The Networked Nonprofit or our Page to Practice book summary.

See also:

Measuring the Networked Nonprofit

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The Networked Nonprofit: Let the friending begin

This month CausePlanet is pleased to feature “The Networked Nonprofit” by Beth Kanter and Allison Fine. We love this book and think you will too. Here’s an excerpt from our Page to Practice book summary, which looks at Kanter and Fine’s definition of a networked nonprofit.

About networked nonprofits

Kanter and Fine set the stage for their book by looking inside a highly networked nonprofit called the Surfrider Foundation whose culture is open among 70 chapters throughout the country. The CEO and small staff follow and support their chapters rather than direct and control them; share typically internal documents such as annual reports; and engage followers with a unique, purposeful model that begins with granular participation. The result is more than 145,000 volunteer hours dedicated to the mission and an engaged community. In other words, this nonprofit is networked!

Kanter and Fine attribute the following characteristics to networked nonprofits:

Simple and transparent

Easy for outsiders to get in and insiders to get out

Supportive of people shaping and sharing their work to raise awareness, organize and advocate

Efficient–don’t work harder or longer, but differently

Comfortable using social media tool set to engage two-way communication

Aware they are part of a much larger ecosystem of organizations

Not afraid to lose control of programs, logos, branding and messaging

Naturally willing to work with “free agents” or individuals who passionately identify and advocate online

Able to use many tools to engage in different kinds of conversations with different kinds of people

What struck me most about this book was its orientation toward establishing a philosophy of transparency and openness before launching into the social media planning process. I recall working with a nonprofit organization that wanted to “get on the Facebook” (thanks, Sarah Durham, for calling out those well-meaning folks who like to add “the”) and they wanted Twitter accounts but they didn’t want to actually interact online themselves.

In fact, they wanted to approve all the posts! This is where organizations can do an about face. If the leadership can engage in social media personally, they can empower their staff to follow their lead and develop an open policy for communication online. It’s actually very liberating to let go of the old ways and not have every message approved by three levels within the organization. Interaction becomes dynamic and fun for followers. Let the friending begin.

For more information, purchase a copy of the book at Jossey-Bass or subscribe to our Page to Practice book summary library, which features our author interview. Learn more about Kanter and Fine’s services and books.

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A moment of silence, please, for the hard copy memo

I smile when I think about the hard copy memo. Now I know you’re wondering why I’m getting misty over paper. It’s because the hard copy memo makes me realize how far we’ve come. I remember when I worked in the development office at a university early in my career and email started to bubble to the top as a form of communication. Everyone was really hesitant to use it and when we had our department staff meetings, the assistant would still send out hard copy memos about the meeting “just in case this whole electronic mail thing doesn’t work out.” I recall thinking, “This email is really great!” while some of my colleagues felt a sense of dread with the unfamiliar. It was a long time before the hard copy meeting reminder went away and I often think about how much easier my job would have been at the time if I’d had the benefit of email addresses.

I had a moment of smiling silence for the hard copy memo because I attended a wonderful conference this week on social media at the university where I worked. It seemed like such a fun coincidence to return for yet another personal milestone in technology. Author of Beth’s Blog and the newly released The Networked Nonprofit (Jossey-Bass, 2010), Beth Kanter, was the keynote speaker and she addressed one of the main themes in her book she co-wrote with Allison Fine. The idea is that a networked nonprofit is a transparent and simple organization that “engages people in shaping and sharing their work in order to raise awareness of social issues, organize communities to provide services or advocate for legislation.”

Kanter went on to tell the group that successful networked nonprofits are characterized by this climate of openness with their communities so social media strategies are more easily integrated into their daily practices. Kanter and Fine use the categories of “fortress, transactional, and transparent” organizations to describe a continuum of openness. Fortresses are nonprofits that rarely interact or meet with outsiders, transactional nonprofits only interact when they need something, and transparent nonprofits fully engage communities to accomplish shared goals. Discovering where your nonprofit lands on this continuum is a groundbreaking exercise in paving the road for integrating successful social media strategies into existing campaigns. The book later explains how nonprofits can prepare for social media strategies as well as how to plan and evaluate your “socializing.” This is a terrific “how-to” with a plethora of examples.

I’m pleased to report that we are featuring The Networked Nonprofit next month so watch for more highlights about connecting with social media to drive change. For more information, purchase a copy of the book at Jossey-Bass or subscribe to the Page to Practice book summary library.

Thanks to HandsOnBlog.org for the image.

 

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