Is social media an art or a science?November 2nd, 2011 by johnhaydon
If you’ve been studying up on how to effectively use social media to do online fundraising or promote your organization, you’ve no doubt found mountain full of information about measuring and monitoring social media. You’ve also found almost as many articles about creating “engaging” content (a rather overused term).
These two mountains make you feel relaxed, but also a little freaked out. The articles about monitoring and measuring social media make you feel somewhat relaxed because, after all, it’s a science where data is captured and analyzed.
But the articles about content creation make you feel a little freaked out because the last time you got praise for making anything was when you gave your mom a clay ashtray you made in first grade.
Is it an art or is it a science?
So is social media or online fundraising an art, or is it a science? The short answer here is that every component within a social media strategy both is a science and a art. But how?
Social Media is a Science
Social media is a science for several reasons:
- You can measure the heck out of it. Anyone armed with Google Analytics, Socialmention, Facebook Insights and a couple of these Twitter tools has the ability to track and measure every single aspect of an online campaign. You can also import all of this data into a spreadsheet to conduct further analysis.
- You have access to a huge body of research. Both Razoo and Blackbaud have collected a tremendous amount of data on online fundraising trends. There’s also the Millennial Donor Survey and the Social Media Decision Guide.
- You can read the books. Books like Social Media ROI, Social Media Metrics and The Networked Nonprofit.
So if you’re the scientific type, you’ll find an almost unlimited amount of resources. But these resources can’t tell how to find the opportunities in your data, or how tweak your strategy. You’ll have to rely on your own creativity for that. So maybe…
Social Media is an Art
If social media was a canvas, the oil paint would be our community:
- You create the ideas. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are just paint brushes. Your ideas and how you tell the story of your cause breaths life to online communities.
- You choose the tools. Knowing how these tools work (both technically and culturally), and knowing which one will tell your story best requires creativity.
- You create the content. You have to know what makes a good blog post, how to do that whole SEO thing, how to create and edit videos. And you have to do this with little or no money!
So if you’re the artist type, you have the keys to a studio Picasso would die for. But posting and publishing works of art is a waste if no one comes to the exhibit. Knowing so means monitoring mentions and shares, which is kind of a science.
How about your organization? Is social media a science, an art, or a little bit of both?