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11 case studies prove social media ROI for nonprofits 3

Posted on September 08, 2012 by Rob Petersen


Light at the end of the tunnelIn a tough economy, it’s especially tough to be a nonprofit because people have less to give.

But it looks like there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Although nonprofits report being “cut to the bone” in their budgets according to the Urban Institute, the American Association of Fundraising Council reports Americans gave more than $298.42 billion in 2011 to their favorite causes despite the economic conditions, up 4% from 2010 and reflective of recovering economic confidence.

Individuals who share a common interest, conviction and passion for a cause drive nonprofits and account for 73% of donations.


2011 Nonprofits Contributions By Source Pie-Chart

How effective is social media given these dynamics? Here are 11 case studies that prove social media ROI for nonprofits.

  1. AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION: Although the AHA is a large national organization, fund raising occur largely through local, grass-roots events. Even today, most donations still occur through the manual process of paper and clip boards. AHA changed the context of connecting with consumers at events from paper and clip board to text messaging.  Donations increased 5X through text messaging in just 10 minutes versus the  manual process that took days, even weeks, and costed more.
  2. AMERICAN RED CROSS: When the earthquake in Haiti occurred, American Red Cross had a flickr group with hundreds of behind the scenes pictures of their operations and a Twitter account with over 150,000 followers. Their Facebook group which incorporated media from all of their social media outlets had over 190,000 followers. American Red Cross quickly sent their text-to-donate message across their social media outlets and it became viral. Within a week, they raised $5,000,000 from texting alone. Over $20,000,000 was raised in a matter of months through social media.
  3. BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH: The updating of personal status on social network pages for women with breast cancer received more media attention and impression on CNN and newspaper networks for a higher ROI than the paid efforts of numerous PR firms and built stronger advocacy.
  4. CANADIAN CANCER SOCIETY: Mark aka, “The Guy At Home In His Underwear,” is a Toronto native and a testicular cancer survivor. He was given 25 days to raise money for testicular cancer “one Facebook friend at a time”. The challenge was to get 25,000 ‘Likes’, in 25 days for Stanfield’s Clothing, an underwear manufacturer, through a photo of Mark at home in his underwear. If Mark could complete this challenge, then Stanfield’s Clothing would donate $25,000 to the Canadian Cancer Society in support of testicular cancer awareness. Mark’s consistent posting and fan support delivered 50,000 “Likes” within 25 days to overachieve the challenge and demonstrate advocacy for the cause.
  5. CARE2: 9% of Americans have texted a charitable donations from their mobile phones. The Care2 network recruited an additional 30,000 through timely text alerts and petitions with an integrated social media plan
  6. FOUNDATION ABBE PIERRE: A French based charity named after a priest who devoted his life to getting people off the street and finding them a decent home. They joined Facebook in 2010 and built up a fan base of 7,000 in their first year, but in the last 6 months they have increased this by over 200,000 fans and gathered a further 50,000 signatures on their Facebook petition. Does this translate to ROI? Yes. The organization was spending $1 per signed petition and, though a signed Facebook petition, spent 4X less plus built a very visible support network they could turn to again.
  7. HELPING HANDS: A local affiliate of the Oregon Food Bank sponsored a Thanksgiving fun run, Give N’ Gobble. The campaign goals were to increase overall donations, registered runners, volunteers and awareness in the Portland metro area. The race director hired Bonfire Social Media to create a search optimized blog, Twitter and Facebook pages. The blog served as a platform for race news, interviews, photos and easy race registration. Donations increased by almost 50% versus the previous year; runners increased by over 25%; volunteers increased 2X; web traffic increased 76%; pages indexed by search engines increased by 150%.
  8. LIVESTRONG: The Livestrong Challenge involved the purchase of yellow gel bracelet that became ubiquitous. It cost $1 and raised $10,800,000. It also occurred almost entirely through social media and a blog serving as the hub to generate awareness and tell the story. This occurred in 2009, at the height of the recession that was particularly hard on non-profits.
  9. SAVE THE CHILDRENZynga, the company behind popular social media games, called on all FarmVille players to buy more virtual radishes. Partnering with Save the Children, Zynga created “in-game” donations to raise money for all those affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Whenever players purchased virtual sweet potatoes in CityVille, radishes in FarmVille, and kobe cows in FrontierVille, they raised money; all of the proceeds went towards the Save the Children’s relief efforts. It raised $1,000,000.
  10. WORLD WILDLIFE FOUNDATION: Used social media to promote Earth Hour, an event to generate awareness of wildlife conservation and endangered species. Their YouTube channel ranked 9th for most subscribed non-profit organization). WWF also had a Facebook group which they used to engage the public in meaningful discussions and to raise awareness about their efforts. When WWF official Earth Hour began, the video was viewed every 4 seconds, and the topic appeared 56.1 million times in Google within a 24 hour time span. Earth Hour (#Earthhour) was amongst the top three Twitter trends. Their Earth Hour Canada group on Facebook had more than 100, 000 people participating. They even created a Facebook application that supporters could use to remind their friends to turn off the lights. This was significant awareness all gained as Earned Media through social media, at a fraction of the cost if it had been Paid Media.
  11. WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME: The World Food Programme (WFP) is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. On Facebook, they posted a photo: The photo posted here states “This is our web editor, Martin. He’s about to go shopping in a food market in Pakistan. He’s got 100 rupees (US $1.00) to spend. How much food do you think he’ll be able to buy?” This resulted in over 80 comments and 140 ‘Likes’. On YouTube, they posted a video and raised $36,000 on World Food Day. It has helped feed over 650,000 children.

When it comes to proving ROI, revenue (or donations in the case of nonprofits) is always a primary measurement. But these case studies demonstrate, in addition to revenue, social media achieves other important results – getting petitions signed, providing disaster relief, fighting hunger, protecting the planet and helping find a cure for diseases.

They also prove, when a nonprofit builds a base of support through social media, advocates are ready to jump in and help the cause.

Out of demand from nonprofits to better understand and put social media to use, this November, from the 12th through the 16th, Rutgers University is offering a Mini-MBA on Social Media for Nonprofit Leader and Public Official. One of the course will be Measurement and ROI which I teach.

In this post, it is important to give a shout out to a nonprofit founded by Seth Wohlberg, who is on a mission to cure Rasmussen Encephalitis, a rare inflammatory neurological disorder, characterized by frequent and severe seizures, loss of motor skills and speech that occurs in the brain. “RE” occurs most often in children under 10 and Seth founded RE Childrens Project. He has connected families from all over the world where someone in the household has Rasmussen’s. He has built a global brand with the help of social media. He also has discovered that a cure lies in securing tissue from children who had a hemispherectomy, a surgical procedure where one cerebral hemisphere (half of the brain) is removed or disabled.

Seth has made incredible progress. In my opinion, he has already seen ROI but I believe, to Seth, ROI won’t be achieved until a cure has been found. Please visit RE Childrens and learn what Seth is doing. It is inspiring and Seth, and his daughter, Grace, are two of the most courageous people I know.

Do these case studies prove the ROI of social media for nonprofits to you?


21 reasons social media marketing fails 21

Posted on August 12, 2012 by Rob Petersen

When social media failsSocial media marketing is the use of community-oriented publishing vehicles, available to anyone, to create awareness and build relationships that are capable of generating business behind your brand.

The necessary ingredients are:

  • Relevant content
  • Commitment to publish consistently
  • Willingness to connect with others and engage in conversations
  • Courage to put yourself out there

If you need to see proof of results, a free eBook, 166 Case Studies Prove Social Media Marketing ROI, is available to download on the sidebar of this website with just a click and no strings attached.

Social media marketing has evolved. It offers the same multi-media options and consumer profiling as mass media. There is TV/video (YouTube) and radio (blogtalkradio, podcasts). Social networks function much like magazines skewing to specific demographics. Facebook, for example, is like People magazine; Twitter like Us; LinkedIn is like business publications (Forbes, Business Week, Inc.) and Pinterest like women’s service books (Ladies Home Journal, Better Homes and Gardens, Cosmopolitan).

Plus, there are targeting and promotional tools to help you find advocates and influencers on social networks (Booshaka, Klout), blogs (Technorati, Alltop), geo-target (Twitter Search) and promote in ways that encourage sharing (Wildfire).

But it would be misleading to say social media begets success for all businesses. Many don’t realize the return expected. Why? Here are 21 reasons social media marketing fails.

  1. Desired business results are not defined
  2. Social media is seen a substitute for a business strategy
  3. Measurements and key metrics (Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)) are never established
  4. A Facebook and Twitter page is thought to be what’s sufficient for a social media presence
  5. Who you want to attract is not articulated
  6. Where they spent their time on social networks has not been investigated
  7. What are the shared interests with your brand are not explored
  8. The conversation is a monologue, not a dialogue
  9. Negative as well as positive comments aren’t acknowledged or responded to in a timely fashion
  10. There isn’t enough relevant content
  11. Keywords are not used so consumers find your brand the way you want to be found
  12. Your brand is promoted more than you give thanks to others; the latter is a much more important form of expression
  13. The action you want consumers to take is not clear or made easy
  14. “Like” us on Facebook is seen as all that’s required for a meaningful relationship
  15. Social media is not integrated with other marketing efforts
  16. The efficiency of social media content in other forms of marketing (traditional email, eBooks, webinars) is not pursued
  17. No one looks at the KPI’s, Key Performance Indicators, regularly to keep the business strategy on track
  18. No one takes actions or makes adjustments based on the learning to optimize results
  19. The head people at the company says: “So what if we ‘Likes’ and ‘Followers,’ how is this helping business?”
  20. Soon, even the “Likes” and “Followers” start to stall
  21. Everyone in the office says they have too much to do to devote time and attention to social media. It’s concluded social media can’t really help this particular business.

Is this something you have observed? It’s too bad because with the right content, commitment and a little courage, there are plenty of examples that prove the situation can be turned around.

Do you think these are accurate descriptions of instances where social media fails?

7 inspiring insights about our social media behavior 0

Posted on November 22, 2011 by Rob Petersen

The Pew Research Center released findings this month about our social media behavior.

The facts and figures are telling, but more telling is the insights they reveal about our character as human beings.

Here are 7 insights into what social media usage reveal about our character.

1. FRIENDS AND FAMILY ARE OUR #1  PRIORITY: The top reason we use social networks is to stay in touch with friends, family members and connect with old friends we have lost touch. Meeting new people or interacting with celebrities are much less relevant than deepening bonds with those who are already important.

2. PEOPLE OF EVERY AGE WANT TO BE INVOLVED: A common misconception about social media is older demographics don’t use it because they’re either not computer savvy or didn’t grow up with social media. Not true. In 2011, we see, for the first time, saturation among the youngest demographic while the oldest (65+) is growing at the fastest rate.

3. ENGAGEMENT IS GOOD: When asked to describe their experiences on social media, positive comments like “good,” “fun,” “interesting” and “great” dominate testimony as this tag cloud visualizes of engagement experience.

4. WOMEN ARE MORE SOCIAL THAN MEN: We known for some time women are the networkers of the species. This is confirmed across social network with the exception of LinkedIn.


5. IT’S TOUGHER TO BE A TEEN: Are people kind or unkind to one another on social networks? When this question is asked, the answer, for the most part the answer is yes but teens navigate a more uncertain social world.


6. TEENS CAN HAVE A DARK SIDE ONLINE:  When teens (12-17) are asked how people behave online, the negatives outweigh the positives. A good number of the descriptors are troubling. If you’re a parent reading this, you should take away social media, like the internet in general, is a different world for teens than adults. Take the time to help your teen through it and tell them you understand what they’re going through.


7. TEENS KNOW WHAT’S RIGHT: When asked how people should behave online, the answers change and a different picture is painted.  Teens, like all of us, know what the right behavior is.


Taken together, these findings show extraordinary growth of social media bringing out a primal part of our character – to look out for one another.

If you don’t know, The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. It is a charitable trust that gives away its research for free.

To learn more about some of the extraordinary work the Pew Research Center is doing, take a look at this video from Mark Schaefer, marketing/business consultant and a fellow Rutgers MBA faculty member, with Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

What do these insights into our social media behavior say to you?




6 ways to demystify web analytics fast 2

Posted on August 27, 2011 by Rob Petersen


“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” That’s what Peter Drucker said to clarify the role measurements play in driving business growth.

But when it comes to the topic of web analytics, measurements can get very confusing very fast.  What does a clickstream, CPC or Bounce Rate have to do with sales?

Here are 6 ways to demystify web analytics fast.

1. KNOW WHY YOUR SITE EXISTS:  Is your website for e-commerce, lead generation, new prospects for a new product, a better customer experience or to lower internal overhead.  If you are clear why your site exists, you’ve already taken a big step toward clarifying the web analytics most important to measure.

2. IDENTIFY WHO YOU WANT TO ATTRACT AND HOW WELL YOU WANT TO GET TO KNOW THEM.  Any business can define their customers according to demographics and psychographics. For example, an audience for a new, compact car might be young adults
18-34 who relish their independence and, for first time, bought or leased their own car. So what? Web
analytics can explain how that audience generates greater sales and profitability by showing who is likely to be a loyal customer versus a price shopper?  Who will be high maintenance versus an advocate for your brand?  In short, web analytics tell you who to spend time pursuing and who not to waste time on. You have to devote time and resources to finding this out but, based on how valuable it is to your business, web analytics are a major asset.

3. FIND OUT HOW THEY FIND YOUR SITE: 80% of traffic to a web site begins with a search query according to Econsultancy.  But what caused the consumer to get to your site after that query. Was it where your business stands in the search rankings? A paid search ad? A review on Yelp or a friend’s recommendation on Facebook?  The right web measurements answer these questions and tell you how to spend your marketing dollars most effectively.

4. TIE WEB METRICS TO BUSINESS MEASUREMENT: In his book, Data-Driven Marketing, Mark Jeffery identifies the “The 15 Metrics Everyone in Marketing Should Know.” 5 metrics are for “Demand Generation;” 5 measure “Financials” and 5 are essential “Internet Measurements.” Mark believes a business only grows when it creates demand and does it profitably. Hard to disagree. The 5 essential internet measurements and: 1) CPC (Cost Per Click), 2) Transaction Conversion Rate (Click Through Rate that then buys), 3) Return on Ad Dollars Spent (ROI), 4) Bounce Rate (the percent of people who spend less than 5-10 seconds on your site) and 5) Word of Mouth (reviews and social media advocacy) because they relate to measuring demand and financials.

5. BUILD AN ACTIONABLE SCORECARD: Every business should be guided by Key Performance Indicators.  KPI’s are your primary guideposts for success.  They also show progress and a difference versus a prior benchmark period.  That’s what makes them actionable. Below is how to go about setting up a KPI dashboard which is not be hard to do.

6. CREATE AND KEEP CUSTOMERS: Peter Drucker also said: “The purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer.”  The fact is the most eye-catching website, killer marketing plan and fanciest web analytics aren’t worth a dime if a business can’t prove that it satisfies customers. But, if you are focused on customer satisfaction, web analytics can guide you on how to keep them coming, buying more often and making the most of your marketing dollars.

Do these steps help demystify web analytics for you?

12 case studies that prove Social Commerce ROI 25

Posted on July 05, 2011 by Rob Petersen

Social commerce is the merger of social media and ecommerce.

It’s a marketing combination that’s here to stay because it aligns with our buying behaviors.

  • 90 times in any given week people mention a specific brand
  • 90% of consumers trust recommendation from people they know; 70% trust recommendations from others even it they don’t know them
  • 83% of consumers share information from people they know
  • 81% says they’ve received advice on a product purchase from friends or followers on a social network site
  • 74% say that advice was influential
  • 71% claims reviews from family members and friends exert a great deal of influence on what we buy
  • 67% of consumers spend more online after receiving recommendations from friends
  • 61% of people rely on information from reviews when making a purchase decision
  • 14% of people trust advertising

Sources: Econsultancy, eMarketing, ClickZ, Internet Retailer, Bazaarvoice)

Social commerce provides strong evidence of social media ROI because direct sales occur on social sites.  In recent years and even months, the numbers of apps and vehicles to enable social commerce has skyrocketed.

The social network to show the greatest social commerce innovation is Facebook where the Like Button and plug-ins such as login-in with Facebook, recommendationsactivity feed, registrations, Live Stream, other social plug-ins and the Facebook Store create a rich customer experience where people with similar interests share brand affinities with the convenience of making purchases without ever having to leave Facebook.

As a result, there is a sub-set of social commerce called f-commerce and companies like Coca-Cola, Disney and P&G are actively involved.   There are the deal-of-the-day social networks, Groupon and Living Social and other social couponing sites.

Not to mention apps like Wildfire and Involver that, when added to social network sites like Facebook, Twitter and the company blog, provide coupons, offers and promotions to accelerate social commerce adoption.

But, if you’re still not convinced, here are 12 case studies that prove Social Commerce return on investment (ROI).

1   BEST BUY:  Discovered their core users and heaviest purchasers were Facebook users.  Merely by asking for consumers to come check them out on Facebook with no offer or coupon, their fans went from 27,000 to 163,000.  Within 9 days, sharing took the size of the community and their heavy user base from 163,000 to 900,000.  Best Buy has 3,281,961 Facebook Fans and WOMMA estimates the value of a Facebook Fan is $72.


2.  CARS.COM:  Does not sell directly to consumers but puts consumers in control by giving them information on cars from other consumers.  In examining the impact of other consumers’ recommendations, pages on the website that had reviews and ratings were compared to those that did not and showed:

  • +16% conversion increase for pages with reviews and ratings
  • +100% increase in traffic to locations for dealers
  • +45 increase in consumers seeking financing options

3.  DERRYNOID CENTRE:  A 40 suite conference and training center in Northern Ireland used Groupon to offer a 60% discount if a voucher was secured that day.  The Derrynoid Centre saw:

  • 426 reservations from the offer
  • 88% of people fulfilled reservations for hotel stay
  • +26% sustained increase in bar and restaurant sales resulted from the effort

The Groupon business model may not be for every business.  Here’s how it works.  Groupon insists there be at least a 50% discounts off the full rate and Groupon takes 50% of each sale.  But it does seem suited for a small business with low awareness where unfilled seats, rooms or idle workers create a financial drain that could otherwise be put to use.

4.  EVENTBRITE:  Sharing is one of Eventbrite’s most effective revenue generators.  When someone shares an event with their friends through social media, the action results in real dollars. Recent data shows that over the past 12 weeks, one share on Facebook equals $2.52, a share on Twitter equals $0.43 and a share on LinkedIn equals $0.90.  In one year Facebook went from being the 15th top driver of traffic to Eventbrite to the number one driver to the site. Eventbrite had over 17 million average monthly page views in 2010.

5.  MOVIEFONE: Executed a full scale Facebook implementation using Login with Facebook, Graph API, Events API, Like Button and the Activity Feed to enable social sharing and engagement. Consumers could connect with their Facebook friends on the Moviefone site pushing unique content and driving traffic.  The results were:

  • 300% increase in site traffic
  • 40,000 to 250,000 increase in referrals per month
  • 40% increase in click-through-rate
  • Average user click back to the Moviefone site 7X

6.  OFFICE DEPOT:  Incorporated consumer reviews into their website around specific products.  Then, they initiated paid search with the keywords consumer used in reviews.  The result were:

  • +78.5% increase in click-through rate
  • +23.8% increase in conversion
  • +196.6% gain in revenue
  • +183.3% increase in new buyers

7.  PREMIERE BEAUTY:  Beauty Salon offered 60% off through Groupon and turned beauty into a social business with:

  • 500 new customers
  • 85% of customer now come through social media because the store uses Facebook and Twitter to promote offers

8.  SHOE DAZZLE:  Leveraged Facebook Pages, Like buttons and Graph API to import friends who shared the ShoeDazzle shopping and discovery experience with other friends.  It resulted in

  • 100,000’s of Likes
  • 600% increase in Shares
  • Facebook user showed greater loyalty and bought more than non-Facebook users

9.  SPORTING NEWS:  Implemented recommendations plugin on their Facebook page to provide a simple and intuitive way for people to share articles from Sporting News back and saw:

  • 2X increase in site traffic within 3 months
  • Facebook goes from 16th to Top 3 referrer in site traffic
  • +30% increase in subscriptions

10.  STARBUCKS:  For a business that is primarily offline, Starbucks uses social commerce to gain an incremental online business with an advocacy component through their loyalty club, MyStarbuckRewards.  They offer special high-end blends to the members of luxury bounty hunter, Gilt.com.  They set up social social commerce on Facebook that enables purchases from smart phones.  The activity show Starbucks believes social commerce is a significant source of business.

11.  STUDIO PE:  Pilates Studio used LivingSocial and changed its business model from personal sales to include group buys.  Owner, Carla Vercoe, claimed, before LivingSocial, no advertisement that she or the previous owner ever tried worked.

12.  TRIP ADVISOR:  Displayed friend’s reviews and opinions on Facebook that are directly relevant to planning and conversion.  Implemented Like button and other sharing functionality to help users share their experiences with their friends and saw:

  • 2X more content contribution from Facebook users than non-Facebook users
  • 20% in site engagement
  • Trip Advisor saw a direct correction between greater site engagement and increased conversion

In addition to showing ROI, these case studies demonstrate how social media and the tools now available are transitioning businesses that traditionally operated offline to online sales at group multiples; all to the betterment of their revenue and profitability.

We’ve written quite a bit on the subject of social media return on investment using case studies.  You can also check out 34 Case Studies that Prove Social Media ROI, 67 Case Studies that Prove Social Media ROI and 16 Case Studies that Prove Social CRM ROI.

Do you think your business might benefit from Social Commerce?

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