It costs a nonprofit $3.50 for every “like” on Facebook, making Twitter at $2.05 for each follower a relative bargain. And, Facebook and Twitter communities grew by 30 percent and 81 percent at nonprofits during 2011.
Those are among the findings in the fourth annual Nonprofit Social Network Benchmark Report, released Tuesday at the Nonprofit Technology Network’s (NTEN) 2012 Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC), in collaboration with Blackbaud and Common Knowledge.
The study, which includes survey results from more than 3,500 respondents about how nonprofits use social media, indicates a self-reported value on the cost to acquire a member on the two most popular social networks.
Participating nonprofits in the survey reported owning an average of 2.1 Facebook pages and 1.2 Twitter accounts. Some 98 percent of respondents reported a presence on Facebook, with the average number of Likes being 8,317. About two-thirds of respondents use Facebook advertising for branding and awareness, according to the study. Almost three-quarters of nonprofits said they are on Twitter, with the average number of followers being 3,290.
Among new social networks, Pinterest is starting to get noticed as a top newcomer but Google+ hasn’t caught on yet, with less than a quarter of respondents saying they are on the network, with an average of 47 members. Average time spent on Pinterest was reported as 15.8 minutes, compared with 16.4 minutes on YouTube, 12.1 minutes on Facebook and 3.3 minutes on Twitter.
The self-reported average value of a Facebook like is $214.81 over the 12 months following acquisition. The self-reported value far outpaces benchmarks of the actual values of offline and online acquired donors, which are $32 and $62, respectively, according to the 2011 donorCentrics™ Internet and Multichannel Giving Benchmarking Report.
“These self-reported figures provide the first real glimpse into benchmarks for our industry,” said Holly Ross, executive director of NTEN. “To be conservative, we recommend that nonprofits treat these benchmarks as a minimum investment level for acquisition of new supporters on Facebook and Twitter.
The wide difference between self-reported value and other actual benchmarks indicates that charities still lack tools to measure the value of their social network members, according to Jeff Patrick, president of Common Knowledge.
“Although these initial self-reported benchmarks may be inflated, they provide a baseline from which we can continue to measure,” he said. “It is obvious that nonprofits see the value associated with social networks, and as they become more sophisticated in their measurement, will refine these important benchmarks,” he said.
Frank Barry, Blackbaud’s Internet strategy manager, said organizations are starting to see the value in social media not only as an engagement channel but an acquisition channel that can lead to fundraising. “That isn’t to say that some aren’t raising significant amounts of money from their social networks, but ultimate value comes from a multi-channel approach, not just someone liking your page or following you,” he said. The most common fundraising tactic on Facebook, according to the report, is an ask for an individual gift.
The use of house social networks remained steady compared to last year’s results, while the average number of members in house networks increased by 265 percent on a year-over-year basis.