social media logic models

So I spent the day after Thanksgiving wrestling with logic models, which is way more fun than doing the dishes.  If you want to cut to the chase and see what I made (two logic models for nonprofts considering using social networks) just click here.

My last post on social networks and decision trees was picked up by Beth Kanter, who wanted to see a logic model developed for nonprofits considering engagement in social network sites (SNSs); Amy Sample Ward, who was kind enough to back up my somewhat vague assertions with cold hard data; and Kevin Gamble, who shared his organization’s experience with trying to launch a custom site (based on Elgg) while simultaneously experimenting with creating a community on Facebook, and the surprising results.

Kevin recommends that we think about where the people are already assembled – if they are already gathering on an existing SNS, then his experience suggests that it is far easier to just build your community there.

I think this is true – but he does mention that his constituency is largely  progressive, which I am going to take here as meaning, at least in part, tech-savvy.  Or at least tech-willing.

How do you make an assessment about where to build community if your constituency is tech-resistant?

As I said in my original post, I think you have to be forward-thinking about this.  It is very easy to say my constituency isn’t on social networks. But what about in five years?  In ten?

That’s why I think it’s important to take some of that cold hard data and build a matrix of some sort that would allow people to input their constituency demographics (60% female, 35-50, and white-collar, say) and see what sort of participation this segment currently enjoys on exisiting SNSs, what the trend is, and predict out from there.  There’s not a TON of data, but there is some.

If one were really crafty, one could make it into a widget, an online calculator of sorts, where you could just answer a few questions about the basic make-up of your audience (either the one you have OR the one you wish you had), then click a “submit” button, and get a nice little read-out of how those folks are using the social web, and how that usage is expected to trend in the future.

Wouldn’t that be helpful?

So I decided to take a stab at creating a logic model to help think through some of the issues of time, money, resources, mission advancement, and measurement that arise when one wonders if one’s organization should get involved in social network sites.

I agree wholeheartedly with Amy’s assertion that the question is no longer Should we network? but How should we network?  However, I’ve had more than my share of the Koolaid on this here dude ranch, so I thought it would be useful to walk people through that decision for themselves. 

So I roughed out two draft logic models, based on this recently discussed logic model tool:

  1. Should my organization use a Social Networking Site?
  2. Should my organization use a custom or an existing Social Networking Site?

I’ve posted them on Beth’s wiki for social media metrics, so head on over and have a look if you’d like.  If you’d like to suggest changes, edits, improvements, either request an invitation to the wiki or leave a comment here.

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8 responses to “social media logic models

  1. I’m avoiding doing the dishes right now too and am heading over there now.

    Quick reaction:
    How do you make an assessment about where to build community if your constituency is tech-resistant?

    What’s the purpose of your sns? To reach out to new people or to support people already involved in your cause? If the latter, what do you know about their tech habits/usage and level of comfort? What is the cost/benefit of supporting them online versus other channel?

    There’s is actually a lot of data out there – but not necessarily free. I rounded up a lot of it for an upcoming article I’m working on.

    Here’s a few demographics:

  2. Elizabeth:

    Just looked – this is excellent.

    I saw a lot of goals listed and I am wondering whether you should hone in one or two? And, perhaps flesh them out a bit. Likewise, it may make sense to hone in one or two target groups and describe them – then go look at data at SNS. It would also help to understand what you want to the audience to be able to do a SNS site – learn more about your organization, sign a position, sign up for your email newsletter, network with one another around org projects? What are the end results that you want people to do once they join your sns community?


  3. Beth,

    Glad you like it!

    I was going for a general logic model that everyone could use, so I listed all the goals, audiences, etc., that I could. The intention was to build a logic model “generator” similar to the one for Advocacy that this was based on, where each group could pick and choose which attributes and goals were important to them.

    Thanks for the links to more data! I am working up a more specific model specific to my organization, and I hope to put together the matrix I talked about to help predict audience usage down the road.


  4. It occurs to me that there is a third option besides roll-your-own and big box. Another strategy would be to identify existing communities that share your demographics on multiple SN sites and work within them. For example, your demographic could be split between multiple SNs and it might be unrealistic to think that they will coalesce around a single organizational SN regardless of where it exists.

    Guess I should put this in the wiki. 🙂

  5. Hi Elizabeth-

    Thanks so much for writing this up! I read through the logic models and they look great. I wonder though if alternative funding base and alternative sources of events (whether for fundraising purposes or not) isn’t something important and unique to be included in the impacts for nonprofits when considering how and where to be involved in the social networking communities. Also, I think that the politics of the social need the nonprofit is involved with as well as the actual politics (maybe legislative work internally or as a partnership) the group is participating in has an effect on which social networks to use and how to use them to fulfill the need there (petitions, calls to action, etc.).

    Thanks again for sharing!

  6. Elizabeth:

    Thank you, thank you. I’ve been blogging for awhile on Sustainable Nonprofit’s Marketing the Message forum about nonprofits’ rush to Web 2.0 and the need for more perspective, more thought, more plan. Too many struggle with a scarcity of resources for them to go off investing in something they neither understand nor have measured.

    I’m all for the future, but let’s be circumspect where we can. Your effort, and the comments and contributions of your ever-knowledgeable colleagues, will do loads to assist those laboring in the field to make better immediate and strategic decisions.

    I’m cheering you on! Best wishes….

  7. Beth,

    Just found your blog via Jeremiah asking for twitters post. I’ve just gotten into social network theory and look forward to digging into you blog more. Some of my initial thoughts are here –

    Keep up the good work.


  8. Pingback: state of the debate: build or join « small dots

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