Social Media Return on Investment

After a great talk by Curves Trend Marketing founder Bibi Mukherjee, I created a quick weekly and monthly tool to calculate my return on investment for time spent on Social Media. I figured some of you might want to use it too, so I made it public here.

Those numbers are all filler, insert your hourly rate, and estimate hours per week spent on the three main platforms. Twitter, Linked In, and Facebook. Then actually visit google analytics and determine referrals from each of these three sites. Don’t just guess what all of these efforts are gaining your organization!

4 things Foursquare gives my brain

by Nathan Hartswick

So, admittedly I came a little late to the Foursquare game (though comparatively early for Burlington, VT). I didn’t see what all the fuss was about, nor did I feel too comfortable with others knowing my whereabouts all the time. But a few weeks ago I took it for a spin, and found I rather liked it.

My concerns about privacy were quelled when I realized that A) I make a really unlikely candidate for any stalkers using Foursquare, B) I get to choose who gets to follow me,  and C) I can even do a “private check-in” if I don’t want anyone to see where I am.

I can see how the app would be a ton of fun in a larger city – especially if all your friends are using it. It encourages spontaneous meet ups between friends in the real world, which is a nice departure from most supposedly “social” media. (Apparently I just missed the Burlington Foursquare Day, which sounds like it provided some of the perks the service offers in larger cities on a daily basis.)

Here in Vermont, though, a lot of us seem to be going through the motions of checking in, earning badges, becoming mayors, and waiting for a critical mass of our friends to begin using Foursquare so we can start organizing flashmobs and getting free pizza. But what I’ve noticed is that even with a lackluster social aspect to the service here, I’m still enjoying the “game” of checking into places and receiving virtual currency for doing so.

Here’s what I estimate my brain is getting from this:

  • An ego boost. We all want to be seen as fun, spontaneous, happy-go-lucky people. It’s that stinking real life that gets in the way. But using Foursquare, you don’t have to climb a tree in the middle of the day to be seen as a wild and crazy guy. You’ll check into a dozen locations doing your Saturday errands, and the service will say, “You just became mayor of this place!” or “You’ve unlocked that badge!” This little pat on the head reinforces the self-delusion that buying frozen meat qualifies you as adventuresome. At the same time, the service rewards actual spontaneity, so you may find yourself – armed with a new confidence and a curiosity about available badges – considering doing fun and interesting things you might have skipped in the past.
  • Something unexpected. Think back to when you were a kid and you won that award you didn’t expect. Maybe it was for sportsmanship, or attendance, or it was a short story contest you never thought you’d win. Nothing feels quite the same as unexpected recognition. Every time Foursquare hands me a badge or a mayorship, I get a miniature version of that feeling. It doesn’t matter that it’s only virtual currency – the prize at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box is basically worthless – it’s the surprise of getting something unexpected and going, “Hey, that’s kinda neat.” We all crave it.
  • Stuff to collect and hoard. Back when the Beanie Babies were big, I knew a 65-year old man who bought, collected and traded them like they were financial derivatives (and they’re probably worth about the same now). I never understood the “collector’s” mentality. But I have to admit, using Foursquare has given me a little taste of that craving. Matt Ridley claims in his new book that what first distinguished us from other species was our desire for and ability to trade. As humans we are innately programmed to seek, retain, and protect “stuff” we didn’t have before. This stuff can be raccoon pelts or Foursquare badges.
  • A hit of dopamine. I’m sure if I asked a scientist for the common denominator in the above three bullet points, the answer would be dopamine. What can I say. I’m a rat pushing a button. Sometimes I get cheese, and it makes my brain feel good.

So setting aside for the moment the social and commercial genius of Foursquare (as I have here in Burlington, where there are still only maybe 50-75 Foursquare users), obviously there are other important features that contribute to the psychological stickiness of this app. The question is, how can you apply this to your nonprofit?

In other words, what are you offering your donors – or what can you start offering them – to give them an ego boost, unexpected recognition, something they didn’t have before, and in the process, a little hit of dopamine?

Social Media Can Be A Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Thing

Joe Mescher says Social Media can be a good thing -- but beware it's pitfalls!Yeah, social media is awesome — unless it totally sucks. I’m writing about a post I came across about the Worst Company in America. One of my Twitter buddies posted the link and I shuddered when I saw the two names mentioned.


Wait — don’t they help customers via their @ComcastCares team on Twitter? Well, yes, but that doesn’t stop people from complaining using blogs and other social networks (this is to be expected with a subscriber base the size of Comcast’s). What do you think the impact could be on a smaller company though? Say…a non-profit or startup local business?

Online Reputation Management is Everyone’s Job

Maybe Comcast being voted the ‘Worst Company in America’ doesn’t matter a whole lot. After all, the Comcast Twitter model is a great example of reputation management. The cable company makes sure to keep their antennas actively tuned in to the social mediasphere to address complaints and compliments alike — and you can too!

Here’s the deal, all you need to do is sign up for notifications with a free service like Social Mention. You’ll be notified anytime someone makes a comment on places like Twitter. But you shouldn’t stop there. Certainly you’ve heard of Google Alerts, right? Make sure to sign up for alerts using parentheses to cut down on unrelated content (like “Your Name” instead of just Your Name).

Putting Information to Good Use

So what’s the point of keeping your eyes and ears open if you aren’t going to use the information you gather?

Here’s my point: If you come across a problem, don’t try sweeping it under the rug. Publicize it. That’s right, I said it — communicate with the person to find a solution and ‘make them famous’. This makes the person feel like they matter and gives you positive press.

Sure, it’s a risk, but a calculated one (and you offer such good service and response, there shouldn’t be an issue of poor response, right?). Good luck out there on the social webs. Make sure to take advantage of the huge opportunities to promote, monitor and share your good name.