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Nonprofit: Linking Staff Performance to Marketing/Social Media KPIs

I did a peer exchange last week here at the Packard Foundation. A couple of grantees shared some terrific stories about building capacity for social media.

If your organization is going to implement an integrated marketing strategy, to ensure adoption results needs to be linked to job performance. You might have a robust integrated strategy and you might even have a social media policy that encourages all staff to participate - but if senior leadership doesn't encourage linking the results to job performance - you may not get good results.

Training is essential. You can't just throw people into the deep end of the pool without swimming lessons. Getting staff buy-in comes from group trainings and one-on-one coachings - preferably multi-channel and using your organization as the example. Don't try to do training unless it is an official part of your department's work plan.

The unanswered question: Should you tie results to job performance review if staff person is using their personal accounts?

What's your experience linking marketing/social media KPIs to job performance? Tips, examples, stories, comments, links appreciated
Marco Campana's profile photoJim Freer's profile photoMeg Biallas's profile photoEmily Culbertson's profile photo
Long comment, not answering your question (sorry, Beth). In this era: what is personal? I advise my clients that if staff intend to use social media to engage publicly about the issues their organizations work on, they have to disclose the relationship, remind folks they don't speak for the org, and follow additional guidelines. In a real sense, even though it's under their own names, it's not personal.

Also, this is somewhat backwards logic, but if it is part of the annual review, then it's definitely not personal.

Finally, I think there's the capacity for enthusiasm and ad-hoc success (not hardcore ROI) by providing training and evangelism from senior management and encouraging exploration but not making it mandatory. In theory, social media engagement makes sense in part because it is another way to achieve a goal that, before social media, a staff person or an organization would have accomplished another way.

For example, perhaps a staff requirement to learn from or contribute to communities of knowledge does not have to be fulfilled through social media; it could be fulfilled in other ways, such as reading and writing articles, attending conferences or through intensive networking offline. I would think, absent other factors specific to a job or role, organizations would care about failure to meet the goal, rather than failure to utilize a particular tool to do it.

Can't believe how much I've edited this. My apologies.
Great points, Beth. Truth is, too many of the non-profits I have worked with don't link ANYTHING to job performance. New employees get a written job description when they start, but the org is VERY resistant to tie to tracking / metrics in any area other than fundraising.

Contrast that to many for profit organizations, where even the front desk receptionist has goals he/she needs to meet, which are tracked, and often, upon which compensation decisions are made.
Thanks for asking, +Beth Kanter! I'm breaking up my response into two parts.

First, (I'm stating the obvious here,) the fact is that social media may be free, but it also costs time. To use social media well, you build a network of followers by demonstrating a multi-dimensional personality. If you only ever RT your organization's tweets, you're not going to build much of a following. If you spend time curating information you may become influential, but you most likely spend a fairly significant amount of time doing it either during work or after hours.

So while I think its great to encourage all types of staff to use social media and to build their own networks of influence, if you make it a requirement as part of a job description, its a task that's presumably taking the place of other work. (The reality in most nonprofits is that everyone is wearing too many hats already, and their time may be better spent completing other tasks.)

I like what +Emily Culbertson said about "providing training and evangelism from senior management and encouraging exploration but not making it mandatory." It's hard to force people to be interesting. Get them interested first, and then let them try it out.
Furthermore, the question remains, how WOULD we tie job performance to social media participation for non-marketing staff?

I LOVE that I have colleagues (+Kevin Conroy +KC Ellis +Sudeshna Mukherjee +Manmeet Mehta ) who are active on social media within their personal networks and contribute to conversations about our organization online. Perhaps I take for granted the fact that we may already have the type of company culture that the other participant feels the need to create. But would tying their job performance to their social media activities be akin to holding me accountable to personal fundraising goals (getting my friends and family to donate) if my actual job responsibility were not fundraising?

I'm working hard to develop a system of key performance indicators for my own job (using social media is my full-time job!). Measuring my own performance is a complicated combination of quantitative and qualitative factors. I have a hard time imagining holding another colleague to the same standard if it's not his/her core job responsibility. But to do any less might just amount to meaningless measurement, right?! ("Employee must tweet 3 times per day".)
+Alison Carlman Thanks for this. I"m going to cross post this over in our peer group discussion on, Facebook, where we might be able to get an answer :-)
For this question: "Should you tie results to job performance review if staff person is using their personal accounts?" I think the answer is "no." But you should encourage them to set up semi-personal accounts that are company-owned, but person specific (for instance, you could have your Beth Kanter account, and then have an account for Beth @ The Org.
Hi, +Joe Garecht: I'm curious about the suggestion that the company or org owns the professional account. In theory, people's personal blogs, Twitter accounts or profiles on G+ that deal with professional issues should help people build out their entire career trajectories, whether or not they're at one organization or many. It seems like people wouldn't reap all the credit, or learn all the lessons, if they don't own the accounts themselves. (In G+, it may not be possible to really make it work any other way.) It's different for a purely customer service function (seems like Comcast should own @comcastkate or the like) and so the question becomes, for direct customer service, can personal users either direct people to customer service pipelines or can the org keep an eye out for customer service requests? I think this becomes super context-dependent really quickly, so I'm curious what you and others think.
+Emily Culbertson - I agree that there's no clear cut answer here, and it depends on the organization and the job role. Also agree that customer service accounts should be company-run. This is what I am saying, using Twitter as an example:

If I am the Director of Development at a non-profit who has a personal account on Twitter, I should not be strictly responsible to the organization regarding that account... meaning, I should not be expected to make 3 tweets per day about my organization on that account. It's hard to enforce, causes all sorts of human resources issues, and leave way too many gray areas. I should, however, have some general liability for what I post there... meaning, it should say in my employment contract that I will not use my social media accounts to post (a) defamatory, (b) libelous, or (c)confidential information on my social networking accounts.

If the organization wants me to use social media to drive engagement with the organization as part of my job responsibility, and I am the primary social media contact for the NPO, I should establish an account in the name of the NPO. If I am not the primary social media contact, but the org still wants me to drive social engagement, at least in part, I should be asked to establish a separate social media account that relates to my work with the org.

The parallel here would be real life networking.... if I am out at a restaurant or bar off the company's time, the company should not expect that I will mention the company three times during my night out. It should, however, expect that I won't get drunk and sill the beans on our not-yet-patented business process. If I am at an event ON the company's time, the company should expect more control... it can set expectations such as asking me to make three new connections with prospective customers during the event, and it can consider those connections to be company connections, not my connections, and direct me to deal with them in a certain way.

At some point, we will start seeing lawsuits where social media rockstars who were employees of a company / non-profit and were allowed to Tweet, G+, Facebook, etc. on company time, and to build their following using company resources, try to leave the company and take their profiles with them, and the company will sue them saying they are corporate property, because they were built with corporate resources and based on corporate reputation.
+Dan Michel you've linked KPIs to your staff's job performance. Can you tell share how this works? Anything to add?
+Joe Garecht: Thanks for spelling it out so clearly. I mostly agree about the staff obligations; I think the main difference in POV flows from most of my clients being foundations and their grantees. In the context of using money and other tools to create social change, they are in the position of showcasing grantees' (or others') work, discussing ideas and research, connecting people with like minds together, and, in no small measure, listening and learning: essentially watching and contributing to social change through information, not all of which flows directly from them. Also, sometimes, without violating the stuff you say above, their job is to provide a peek behind the curtain of the organization.

So my parallel is in some ways different (and probably unfortunate given the connotation): it's academic, in that both the person and the organization benefits from the intellectual capital and relationships created. If I am, say, a program officer or communications officer, only part of what I do on social media is directly promoting the org, or even its grantees. Likewise a program manager at a nonprofit may use his or her social media presence to discuss relevant news, the larger issues the nonprofit contends with in the field, how the organization's approach responds to those needs, and stories about the work and lessons learned. Some of that is org-specific and some of it is not.

The accountability aspects of this work net out a little differently for my clients. I don't think an organization can or should tell a program officer, "you must use social media to find new ideas or grantees." I think an org can hold a program officer accountable for the number of new organizations or people s/he brings forward for funding, and then learn about how it came to be. Likewise, if I lead programming efforts at a nonprofit, I can be held accountable for trying new ideas, or being more cost-effective in what I do, or in contributing knowledge to the field, and social media is a tool for doing so.

The question then becomes: whose brand is really being promoted, and what outcome is social media creating, for whom? In a nonprofit free-agent culture, I'm sure my past and present workplaces inform my brand tremendously, but my own ability or inability to do my job wins out. Yes, people gain following as a result of the brand of the organization the person works for, but people's intelligent use of the tools is both their own doing and a substantial pillar of their own personal brand and makes a contribution to the organization's brand. Letting me know upfront that I will need to give up my personal-but-business account to another person when I leave is a possible solution, but the next person is going to gain or lose following based on his or own intelligent engagement, and the person leaving is leaving behind a substantial personal investment that, if done well, is probably not all done during the work day. (True, if they are really good, they'll probably rebuild that following on a new handle, but for my clients, I don't see the need in an ideas-oriented model in forcing them to give it up.)

Anyway, thanks for hanging in for such a long comment.
+Beth Kanter Thanks for giving me the heads up on this thread.

We are currently in our review process and setting goals for the next fiscal year. Every goal needs to be measurable and tie into one of our strategic outcomes.

One of our main strategic out comes is mobilizing the public - that include fundraising, public policy advcocay and brand awareness. The idea that social goals will help those efforts.

For FY11, we set goals for # of connections and share of conversation (aroudn the topic of hunger). We hit one of our goals and didnt hit the other. Just like with other personal performance goals, you now have a forum to analyze - thoughtfully and with data - what worked and didnt. A goal that you donn't reach has as much if not more learnings that a goal you hit.

For FY12, we are adding a third metric which is Share of Voice which analyzes our organization presence in comparison to similar organizations.

We have help from our fantastic agency, Ciceron who help us crunch the numbers and provide insights.

Hope that helps and I would be happy to discuss further.
+Alison Carlman One point about staff curating information versus other tasks. The value of information curating - that is if they are tracking content that relates to their jobs/field and possibly feeding into a content strategy for an organization - then the value is that they stay informed in their field, deepen program expertise. If staff gain knowledge and expertise, this would have an impact on the effectiveness of the organization's programs, no? And, ultimately have a greater impact on audience. In terms of organizational level impact, if more staff were curating information and contributing to the implementation of the content strategy - would this improve the efficient and effectiveness of the marketing/communications goals? (Assuming there were SMART objectives and quality content?)

It gets down to whether or not an organization values having their staff:
-Learn and deepen expertise related to program and missions
-Build relationships

to get to more tangible objectives.
+Emily Culbertson - Well said, thank you for clarifying. I was definitely coming at it from a development officer at a service organization type perspective. Agree that it would be different under the scenario (foundation work) you propose. I think, overall, that the social networking / professional / personal divide of responsibilities and rights is still in a very tricky phase, and needs to be navigated carefully.
Indeed, +Beth Kanter, I definitely agree! But just to play devil's advocate, (and I believe this repeats one of +Emily Culbertson's first points) - if the ultimate goals are deeper expertise and better relationships, then social media are simply tools (a means) and their use should not be a requirement (or an end) in itself. Not everyone at a nonprofit operates in a digital world; program and field staff can develop great expertise, networks and relationships with experts and beneficiaries who are not online.

With that said, I'm in a communications role at a nonprofit that helps introduce smaller orgs to online fundraising. So yes, for me, online content curation and conversation contribution is a very relevant component of my marketing/comm goals. And the personal/professional line is fuzzy for me (here I am participating in this quasi-professional conversation using my personal account during work time. For which my personal life will soon suffer as I return to take care of more tangible items on my professional To Do list for the day.) =)
+Dan Michel Am I correct to assume that these goals you discussed are based on organizational accounts and not personal ones? Also, I'd love to learn more about your Share of Voice metric, but I'm guessing it could be a fancy and proprietary equation/system developed by Ciceron .=) (Anyone have any tools to recommend for Share of Voice measurement?)
We use Radian6 (which has a nice nonprofit discount) to measure social media and Ciceron helped with set up and continues to help with analysis. Share of Voice is a metric where we look at other hunger organizations and compare how much of the "conversation" we are a part. Share of conversation is the total hunger conversation we are a part.
Also works for SEO. And since SEO + Social are starting to look more and more like each other, I think there's a good model to follow here.
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