Social Listening as a Nonprofit Organization

Many organizations with an online presence will recognize that it is essential to consistently practice social monitoring in order to build a solid reputation and following on their social media channels. Traditionally, social monitoring is considered a fairly straightforward process that entails keeping track of social media mentions and conversations surrounding your organization. While this practice is important, the best social media managers know that the buck doesn’t stop with social monitoring alone: it’s social listening that’ll really take your digital communications strategy to the next level.  

Social Listening

Social listening is a two-part process that begins with the monitoring of your organization’s media channels for any stakeholder feedback, direct mentions of your organization, and discussions surrounding specific topics, keywords, and competitors related to your industry. The second step is where we conduct an analysis of the information and use the insights gained to act on emerging opportunities and trends.  

The difference between social monitoring and social listening lies in the actionable responses you make to your social media strategy as informed by your analysis. Social listening asks you to dig deeper into your media monitoring and understand the root causes behind social conversations, then act on those opportunities. 

As a non-profit organization, how can social listening impact your social media strategy?

Nonprofit Social Strategy

Firstly, consider the goal of any non-profit organization: being of service to others. All non-profits share the same strategy to enact social good for the benefit of the communities around them. Therefore, it is important to maintain a stakeholder-centric mindset to your organizational practices, and social listening does just that. Social listening dictates that rather than making assumptions about what your stakeholders want or need, you hear exactly what they are saying and respond accordingly.  

Secondly, social listening prepares your organization to make thoughtful and informed responses to any criticism you or your industry might face. The mission of many non-profit organizations seek to address controversial themes or issues related to social justice. Maintaining a social media platform sometimes comes with the challenge of conflicting perspectives. Awareness of these types of comments is important, but what can really make an impact is using them as an opportunity to understand differing perspectives and then meet those perspectives with a thoughtful response.  

Finally, by performing social listening you can create the kind of content your followers want by continuously shifting your strategy to fit current trends. What are your peers and competitors doing, and how do their audiences respond in return? What is the current social or political climate like in your sector, and how can you create content inspired by these trends that provide value to your audience?

By consistently practicing social listening, your organization will level up their online presence and better serve your audience with the right content at the right moment! 

7 key social media metrics nonprofit organizations need to track and be aware of

The value of data is a concept that is well understood by nonprofit organizations and charities. Data helps to demonstrate the impact your organization is having in the community, supports the development of new programs, and is key to support funding requests. However, most nonprofit organizations are not tracking the key metrics that can really make a difference when communicating online.

Analyzing your social media analytics on a regular basis is the best way to gain insight into the impact and influence that your content is creating on your audience. This might seem like a daunting task at first, but we’ve broken the most commonly used metrics used when assessing social media performance to get you started! 


Reach is a term commonly used by social media managers to describe the potential audience that your content will be exposed to. This is determined by your follower count; if your account has 3,000 followers, then your reach is potentially 3,000 people. 


Exposure measures the reach of your followers, that is to say, how many people are following the people who follow you. This metric is important, as every time your content is shared by one of your followers, it is now exposed to an entirely new group of people, also known as an ‘impression’.  


Engagement tracks how your audience is interacting with your content, and is measured differently, depending on the platform that you are using. For example, on Instagram, engagement is tracked by measuring the number of likes and comments that a post receives. On Twitter, engagement is measured by the number of replies, likes, and retweets. Most platforms have tools to track the level of engagement a profile is receiving.   


Mentions is a metric that refers to the number of times that your organization’s name, hashtag, or keywords are used across social media. This is a useful metric, as you can use it to further determine the level of engagement and invested interest that your audience has towards sharing your content, thus expanding your reach.  


Traffic refers to how people find your profile, and it is used to determine whether or not your social media account encourages your followers to visit your organization’s website. Monitoring this metric can help you to better understand which types of content generate the most traffic, thus helping you to prioritize the right content for the most optimal results in the future.  

Audience growth rate

Audience growth rate helps to determine how your following is increasing or decreasing over time. Tracking this metric is fairly easy–record the number of new followers you’ve gained in a month, divide that number by the current overall number of followers, and then multiply by 100 to get the percentage rate. For example, if your account gained 50 new followers this month and your new overall number of followers is 2000, then the equation would be: 50 ÷ 2000 × 100 = 2.5% audience growth rate.  Tracking this number over time will provide an indication of how effectively your content is attracting new followers.


Influence is a metric that can be hard to measure, as it is an aggregate of several factors and can be somewhat subjective. Influence score is determined by how people respond to your content, the reach that your brand has relative to the space that you are operating in and can be understood as ‘share of voice’. It is important to have a broad awareness of the organizations that are similar to yours when determining influence, and track how your influence is growing over time.

We recommend conducting monthly audits for each social media account and keeping record of the changes you make that result in better performance. There are tools that can be leveraged to support the tracking and reporting of these metrics, and we mention a few of them in our previous blog post.

By understanding these 7 key social media metrics, you can work to optimize your strategy for creating and sharing content online and ensuring that you’re speaking to the right audience.   Good luck!