Nonprofits: Forget ROI. Here’s a better way to measure social media

For some, it’s impractical to try to measure social media’s return on investment. Try asking “To what end?” instead of quantifying cost savings.

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I’ve been mulling over social media return on investment (ROI) and how it doesn’t necessarily work for nonprofits, especially when organizations apply it as a litmus test to see if it reduces cost or increases revenue.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe that for social media to be effective, organizations must align it with their communications objectives. But for nonprofits, those objectives are not solely money or efficiency for everything that can be measured.

By aligning social media to organizational objectives and using measurement, you can answer this question: “Of all the ways we could be investing our resources, is social media the best choice to get the social change results that we want to see?”

For more than 90 years, ROI has been polished, refined and so deeply embedded in business thinking that Wall Street views it as the only legitimate way to measure business performance.

Should nonprofits use a narrow ROI definition in their quest to improve program results? Why not apply a “theory of change” method instead?

Why use a theory of change?

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