Posts Tagged ‘Katie Paine’

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 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 or download our summary and interview at the summary store or subscribe to our library of recommended titles.

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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 or download our summary and interview at the summary store or subscribe to our library of recommended titles.

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