Small Nonprofits, Big Data

“Big data” might be among the latest buzzwords but that doesn’t mean that it’s off limits to small nonprofits.

Three executives from The Ad Council presented a session, “Small Nonprofits, Big Data: Leveraging Data to Optimize Your Digital, Media and Communications Activities,” during the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) in Washington, D.C. last week.

The panel – which included Tony Foleno, senior vice president of research; Anastasia Goodstein, vice president of digital, and Ben Poltarak, director of digital insights – offered some suggestions small nonproifts can emulate about data analysis.

The Ad Council collected and analyzed data across channels weekly, from Facebook and Twitter to Tumblr and youTube, then divided responsibilities and created a template, examined not just the content of what it posts but when it posts and reveal some insights into what engages its constituents. Facebook fans are individuals and are more apt to like inspirational photos, content that doesn’t play well on Twitter. Twitter was more popular among nonprofits and others in the advertising industry, looking for industry best practices and sharing information.

“Facebook is for the heart, Twitter is for the brain,” Foleno said, so The Ad Council executed off those insights, knowing what content played well at what time of day and what time of year.

When The Ad Council applied its findings when posting new content, it saw increased engagement for the year. New follower growth on Twitter was about 18 percent and unique users who interact in some way with Facebook content increased by about 16 percent.