Cosmic

Turning Stats Into Stories: Supercharge Your Social Enterprise’s Proof of Impact

Social impact statistics demonstrate your organization’s success. Learn how and why to leverage them to foster deeper engagement with your customers.

Eric Ressler
January 28, 2021
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As a social enterprise, you know that showing your impact matters. After all, the reach and scope of your impact is how you know if your mission is successful or not. As well as sharing impact that builds trust and credibility with everyone who follows you and believes in your brand.

The most effective way to show your impact is through storytelling from the statistics you gather.

Numbers and stats by themselves are inherently lackluster. So how do you translate the meaningful change driven by your organization into something compelling for your audience? With today’s attention economy, your competition is fierce. It’s a non-starter that your content be scroll-stopping, both visually and contextually. And it needs to communicate the truth of what’s happening.

If you’re like a lot of social enterprises, however, tracking your data is easily sidelined by the core work of your business. Not to mention it takes time to craft creative ways to show all the hard work you’ve done. It takes a proactive approach, creativity, and time.

The truth is, dedicating time to determine what impact metrics to track and how they fit into your ongoing sales and communication strategy are imperative. But the way you share your metrics can put you ahead of the pack. Not to mention your efforts can supercharge your triple bottom line. It’s up to you to find the meaning behind the metrics — and show the world how your business is changing it.

When and How to Track Your Impact Metrics

The triple bottom line is one way you are differentiating yourself. Your social enterprise’s drive to support profit, people and the planet gives you an edge in the market that you should leverage if you aren’t already. So when it comes to tracking your stats, go back to the basics of your business.

Consider the following when you don’t know what metrics you should track:

  • What do you do differently than your competitors? The inherent nature of a social enterprise is to think outside the box and offer consumers a greater good along with their purchased product or service. What are you doing that’s not like everyone else? Separate each element of your business and determine how you’re making a difference in each space. There, you’ll find ways to track the difference you are making. The quantifiable pieces of data that prove your unique approach works. And that is something worth tracking.

  • Listen to what your customers are saying. You can learn a lot from listening. What is your audience saying about the difference you are making in their lives or business? Based on that information, what metrics or framework can you establish to track the impact? Relatable, real-world experiences get to the heart of the matter. Listen for them, and track them.

  • Look at what’s already being done in your industry. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. What metrics are being tracked in your vertical, industry, or marketplace? If you’re already tracking this information, how can you put your brand’s unique spin on it? Paying attention to people and the planet is what sets you apart to begin with, but go deeper into your purpose. What problem are you trying to solve? How do you define that difference? Your business does good in the world, in a novel way. Your stats will show that if you look close enough.

Apart from knowing what to track is how to track. This is just as important. Whether you track inventory or client meetings, establish what your method of tracking will be. You likely already have some data. You just have to hone it with the software and systems you may already have in place.

Along with the tangibles, you’ll need to designate a team member to be the Metric Tracking Boss. It will be their responsibility to ensure tracking is completed on an ongoing basis. And, if they’re empowered to come up with more ideas, all the better. But this doesn’t mean the rest of your team is off the hook.

A quarterly or annual meeting should revisit what metrics are being tracked, how they’re being tracked, what could improve, and anything new that could add substantial value to your numbers. As your organization evolves, the metrics you track will naturally need to evolve as well.

Visualizing and Communicating Your Statistics

Data by itself doesn’t do your organization justice in terms of showing your successes. There is so much more behind the numbers you track. There are stories of change that drive what your metrics tell you. Storytelling amplifies your impact in a way that a spreadsheet never will.

Positive change is intrinsically compelling. It’s your job to show what you accomplished and your path to success. There are ways to grab your audience’s attention in a visual, visceral way that can also usher in more support for your brand. This often means translating the information into something tangible. Your metrics already hold the pieces of the story. It’s up to you to put it all together.

If your stats aren’t easily understood, they’re not going to make much of an impact. And these days, visual content is king. Think about it: Grasping how many tons of carbon have been neutralized is a lot easier to understand when you present it as equal to taking X amount of cars off the road.

Being able to distill your information, analyze it, and present it in an easily digestible way (read: visual) will make your stats stand out.

Visuals shared directly from your audience can be a big lift in proving your social enterprise has people and the planet at heart, not just profits. Encouraging your customers to share their own metrics compel others to see what is possible. All of this can be used as regular content in your marketing strategy.

The nature of your business may mean there are sensitivities to keep in mind. A big ‘don’t,’ for example, is using an impromptu picture of a person experiencing homelessness that was impacted by the good your organization did. There’s effective storytelling and then there’s exploitation. Don’t succumb to the latter.

Emotion drives people to dive deeper into your brand. Infuse a case study on your website with emotion and relatable, compelling storytelling. Another good way to share outcomes is through pictures, videos, testimonials, or ongoing updates.

Tell your story creatively and tactfully. Not at the expense of those you are impacting.

Why Your Business’s Social Impact Metrics Matter

It’s hard to tell if you’re achieving your mission if you aren’t tracking your metrics. By looking at both the numbers and the stories behind them, you get a bigger picture of the health of your business — and the impact you’re making.

Intentionally tracking your impact stats comes with more benefits than showy visualizations at the next board meeting. The more you do it, the better data you will have, the better stories you can tell, and the more support you will build. (Not to mention how this will drive your sales.) It’s all synergistic.

Backing up the numbers with qualitative storytelling will automatically set you apart. In today’s digital-first landscape, content is king. Turn your stats with compelling storytelling for your digital platforms and prove your work. The creative ways in which to communicate the impact your business is making are endless but only if you and your team commit to tracking and telling them.

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