67 case studies that prove social media ROI

Posted on October 27, 2010 by Rob Petersen

Last week, we published, 34 Case Studies that Prove Social Media ROI.  This week, we’ve added another 33 to bring us to 66 case studies that prove social media ROI.

The purpose: Prove (with 67 examples) the value of social media and understand the ROI principles at work to help any brand thinking about using social media to build their business.

The 67 case studies (33 below/34 in the blog below this one) cover B2C, B2B, profit and non-profit areas.  They include businesses big and small.  They prove social media ROI based on:

  • Sales
  • Shorter Sales Cycles
  • New Leads
  • Improved company operations with internal cost savings that return money to the bottom line
  • Mass reach (at a fraction of the cost of mass media)
  • Innovations and new product ideas from customers
  • Social good

The business principles: Clear business strategy + Defined measurements goals + Willingness to jump in + Imagination + Commitment =   $$$ROI

We asked for input along the way.  Reineke Reitsma, a Forrester Analyst in Amsterdam, asked for some social media programs that failed.  We have two; one from KFC and one from Starbucks.  While both “failed” because the companies were not prepared for overwhelming consumer response, they show the ability of social media to drive demand.  When customers came en masse, the two companies reacted in entirely different ways.  I’ll let you judge who showed good social media manners and bad.  They’re below as well and were referred by  Tom Chernaik, a friend in NYC and Co-Founder of, who I thank.

So the next time someone at your company questions whether social media has proven ROI, refer them to these.  You might also ask:  Are there 67 case studies that prove ROI for what our company does?


  1. ADIDAS: Used social networks to do guerrilla marketing on mobile (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, SMS) in and around NBA All-Star Game and increased retail sales 20X goal in Las Vegas (where All-Star Game occurred).
  2. AMERICAN RED CROSS:  During Hurricane Katrina, multiple organizations had trouble coordinating and sharing information connecting children to their parents.  Because 44% of web users found social network as an alternative, social media reconnected more families than organized support and regular media combined.  “One person can take a photo. One person can post a message…and it changes our understanding of a situation immediately,” said Macon Phillips, special assistant to the President.
  3. BARACK OBAMA:  Social media campaign for the President on raised $30,000,000 from over 70,000 personal fund-raising pages, 400,000 blogs, 35,000 groups and 200,000 offline events.  I sometime wonder, when social media was so successful getting the President elected, why it’s not being used more strategically, now.
  4. BARE ESSENTIALS:  Makeup manufacturer used combination of e-mail and social media to achieve unique visitor engagement rate  of 75% and equivalent conversation rate to mass media channel at a small fraction of the cost.
  5. BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH:  The updating of personal status on social network pages for women with breast cancer received more media attention on CNN and newspaper networks than the paid efforts of numerour PR firms.  The difference, of course, was the former was a marginal investment and later was paid support.
  6. COCA-COLA: Achieved strongest global marketing integration ever with Expedition 206, a social media promotion where a small group of travel ambassadors went to 206 countries over 365 days to “generate happiness” and published on social networks.  It enabled global promotion execution among 3,500 Coca-Cola marketers around the world.
  7. COLGATE: Launched Wisp, disposable toothpaste, through “Be More Kissable” social media video campaign (+30 more involvement) that ran on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.  It achieved reach of 10,000,000+ rivaling mass advertising at small fraction of the cost.
  8. DIGITAL:  Magazine/blog/website with pay-per-click business model linked social media outreach to SEO for site authority.  Goal was to deliver 10,000+ viewers to show profitability; social media delivered 100,000+ viewers for sustainable success.
  9. FORD FIESTA: Used social media for U.S. launch to generate mass reach, build relationships with key targets and achieve reservations-to-conversion sales rates that were 10X higher than expected.  On YouTube, Ford Fiesta generated 6,200,000 views with 132,000 consumers raising their hand for more information.  On Flicker, there were 750,000 views; 83% were new to Ford.  On Twitter, there were 40,000,000 impression; 30% were car buyers under 25.
  10. EMC: B2B social media effort that achieved business transformation by creating a global company-wide social community, EMC ONE.  This connected and increased collaboration resulting in double-digit revenue growth in more than 60 countries.
  11. EMERSON SALON: Saavy used combination of blogs, Facebook and Twitter to reach 75% of their customers and drive positive reviews on Yelp.  This built business because 90% of all purchase decision begin on the internet and 85% are looking for an independent review.  Co-Founder, Matt Buchon, said “it’s rare for even a walk-in customer to come in and not have be read our blog or seen our tweets.”
  12. FELA:  Off broadway play, Fela, created Facebook campaign, aimed at Facebook users with interests like theatrical shows or Afro beat.  They spent $4,400 in time, management and Facebook ad costs and generated $40,000 in ticket sales for ROI of 9-to-1.
  13. FISKARS:  300 year old Finnish company that makes fine cutting tool created online social community of crafting enthusiasts called  “Friskateers” to reach underutilized channel of small retailers for a 3X increase in company sales.
  14. FOILED CUPCAKES: Generated 93% of its business through social media leads to surpass revenue target by +600%
  15. GENERAL MOTORS: Launched “FastLane,” one of the first blogs personally written by senior executives.  Customer feedback given through a blog saved the company $180,000/year versus traditional focus group research not to mention the enormous good will of company executives responding to consumers, not a focus group moderator.
  16. H&R BLOCK: Tax preparation is a highly seasonal business.  H&R used Facebook and Twitter to provide immediate access to a tax professional for Q&A in the “Get It Right” social media campaign.  The effort secured 1,500,000 unique visitors and answered 1,000,000 questions for a 15% lift in business versus the prior year when there was no social media “Get It Right” program.
  17. KFC (BAD EXECUTION BUT HONORABLE BEHAVIOR): Ran coupon promotion on Facebook and Twitter for a Free Grilled Chicken dinner.  High value resulted in coupons passed around virally on the internet and KFC franchises ran out of food; yet, they honored everyone who came with a coupon, eventually, and people appreciated their responsible behavior.  Check out Starbucks for a similar promotion and a company who didn’t behave so responsibly.
  18. JIMMY CHOO:  Best known as a designer for women’s shoes, Jimmy Choo used Twitter to geo-locate and feature upscale stores where their sneakers were available and saw a +33% increase in sneaker sales, a 40% increase in positive mentions and 4,000 participants in his Twitter effort.
  19. JOHNSON & JOHNSON (BABYCENTER.COM) 8 year old online/social media community connected and engaged 8,000,000 new and expectant moms in the U.S. (78% of total) and another 16.5 million in 21 countries.  A major profit center for J&J and, in fact, a major social brand.
  20. JOIE DE VIVRE:  A company that operates 33 luxury hotels in California on Tuesday nights broadcasted special $79/night deals to its Twitter account of 10,000 followers and Facebook page of 5,000 fans.  It booked roughly 1,000 rooms, that would have stayed empty with virtually no investment.
  21. JUSTIN BOOTS: Attributed 95% of sales to social media on a budget that was half of traditional media.
  22. KINAXIS: B2B supply chain management company used 18 employee bloggers and focused on category thought leadership and it generated over 42,000,000 leads.  That’s 2,180,000 per blogger.
  23. KRAFT (TOLBERONE): In the Phillipines, Kraft wanted to make Toblerone, a Swiss chocolate bar, synonymous with gratitude.  The company established October 20 as the country’s National Thank You Day.  Website,, and social network outposts generated nearly 500,000 hits and Toblerone sales escalated 132%.
  24. MARS (PEDIGREE): As part of integrated “Pedigree Adoption Drive,” Pedigree created “Become a fan, help a dog” Facebook group.  When campaign started, there were 55,000 fans.  At the end, there were 1,000,000+.  In terms of involvement, users sent 6,000 photos, 50 videos, 1,000’s of comments and, most important, made donation for 1,100,000 bowls of dog food.
  25. PAGANUM FARMERS MARKET:  Small network of UK farmers proved blogs and social network advertising produced better return on investment than any other online or offline consideration.
  26. PETCO:  Leveraged the voice of their customers by implementing the Bazaarvoice Ratings & Reviews solution, which went live on their site.  As a results, website clicks were nearly 5 times higher, Top-Rated Products category had a 49% higher conversion rate and customers spending saw a growth of nearly 63% on PETCO’s top-rated products.
  27. PIPERSPORT AIRPLANES:  Sold $140,000 airplanes online through search optimized video content and social networks.  The sale of the 1st plane drove ROI through the roof.
  28. QUICKEN: Launched social community and blogger outreach to build long-term relationships with future and potential customers and provided free credit reports/scores, home value report and mortgage recommendations. received over 425,000 visits and 70,000 accounts were created without a dollar spent in traditional advertising.
  29. STARBUCKS (BAD EXECUTION AND BAD BEHAVIOR):  Like KFC (above), Starbucks ran limited duration coupons through social media in limited markets.  Coupons spread virally on social networks but Starbucks, unlike KFC above), wouldn’t honor them.  So Caribou Coffee did, instead.  Their competitors gained a lot of new customers who better taste in their mouth for Caribou than Starbucks.
  30. UNILEVER (AXE): Launched an online contest through social media and created a website,, for registrants to interact. The contest directed contestants to upload a digital photo of his car and explain in a short essay how tricking out a car would help them get the girl. AXE received more than 30,000 visits and four times the number of entries as compared to previous AXE competitions.
  31. VITABIOTICS: Health supplements manufacturer builds community of 13,000 that it uses for learning, insights and trial of new products prior to going to market.  Product trials have 95% completion rate and save the company $100,000’s annually versus traditional research and test marketing.
  32. WET SEAL:  E-commerce teen clothing store for girls created “community” section on the web site for users to design their own clothes, publish for reviews and leverage “wisdom of the crowd.”  They saw a 21% increase in revenue driven by a 10% increase in sales and a 10% increase in the average purchase per customer.
  33. WHOLE FOODS:  Maintained 200 Facebook accounts and over 150 accounts.  While the accounts have different topics, they all focus on business happenings supporting a clearly defined business strategy for social media.

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30 to “67 case studies that prove social media ROI”

  1. Im thankful for the article.Really thank you! Will read on…

  2. Lancel says:

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  3. Zack Lynaugh says:

    I would love to write and say what a great job you did on this, as you have put a lot of work into it.

  4. Reinhardt says:

    Thank you for that great piece of information! It’s hard to find such a good aggregated list of case studies proving the ROI of social media actions…

    All the best

  5. Great post, very informative, hopefully it will being some of those lurkers out into the open.

  6. Makeda Catt says:

    There is obviously a lot to know about his, I think you made some good points. Anyhow keep up the good work.

  7. Namaste my dear writer,

    Thank you so much for posting this information. Thank you so much for investing your valuable time and empowering as well as global readers.

    i appreciate from my heart & soul.

    Thanking you,

    Sincerely i remain,

    Phadke Subodhkumar Narayan
    Full name and i prefer to be called as & written as Mr. Phadke
    City: Pune
    State: Maharashtra
    Country: India
    Date: 1st Nov 2010
    Day: Monday
    Time: 1814 Hrs. as per IST

  8. Wow. Tremendous amount of data to process. Love how Coffee Caribou was able to take advantage of Starbucks dropping the ball.

  9. Rob Petersen says:

    You’re very welcome, Phadke. Glad it was helpful for you. Rob

  10. Rob Petersen says:

    Thanks for your comment, Barbara. This is an interesting time to be looking at social media ROI, not only because there clearly are examples, but because as the Starback’s/Caribou case shows, one company’s loss could be another company’s gain. Glad you enjoyed the case studies. Rob

  11. Ann-Marie says:

    To add to #28, – that’s the site that was launched by Quicken Loans – has seen so much success via social media channels, that it spun off to become its own business in September 2009. Quizzle now has more than 600K registered users, all brought in by organic means and without spending a dime on traditional advertising.

    All you need to achieve success is little elbow grease and a lot of passion!

  12. Rob Petersen says:

    Ann Marie, Thanks so much for the information about and how their success continued to grow. I’m in complete agreement about the results one can see from a little elbow grease and passion. Thanks again for your comment. Rob

  13. Hi, just browsing for information for my Fiskars website. Lots of information out there. Looking for something else, but cool site. Have a great day.

  14. Cher Mccown says:

    Hey. I just bumped into your page while browsing Yahoo . I’ve saved it. I’ll definitely return.

  15. Rob Petersen says:

    Thanks Carissa. Hope you found the Fiskars case study to be worthwhile reading. Have a great day as well. Rob

  16. Sha Robards says:

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  17. Ian Dilsaver says:

    Good Post. Better then the simillar post I found last Wednesday on Blogspot

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  19. Bessie Bembi says:

    You made some good points there. I did a search on the issue and found a good number of persons will consent with your blog.

  20. Udayan says:

    34 + 33 = 77 ?????
    Since when?

  21. Rob Petersen says:

    Wow Udayan! That was a great catch. Of all the numbers I checked and rechecked, I didn’t double check my own math. Thanks so much for pointing this out. I’ll revise. Rob

  22. Powerful post & data!! Savvy companies, both big Corp. & small businesses, need to wake up & smell the coffee if they haven’t already. Thanks, Rob!

  23. Rob Petersen says:

    Thanks Donna (and thanks for the RT too). The info I gathered is out there for everyone, and, as you say, want to smell the coffee. Appreciate your comment. Thanks. Rob

  24. SEO says:

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  25. I enjoyed this one thanks!

  26. Hello, us folks over at hp positively enjoy your internet site. Spelforum is nearly often the very first thing we examine inside the morning. Keep up the excellent website!

  27. Fantastic issues altogether, you simply won a new reader. What would you recommend about your submit that you made some days in the past? Any sure?

  28. Hi Rob!

    I must say this the most awesome resource on Social Media I have come across on the web! This post about Case Studies proving Social Media ROI is genius! Thank you so much for this. I will be using some of the case examples for a presentation I am working on. This is a one-stop solution indeed. Keep it up!

  29. Rob Petersen says:

    Thank you Syed. Really appreciate the feedback. Glad it was helpful to you. Rob

  30. Kieran Kelch says:

    Thanks again for the blog post.Thanks Again. Will read on…

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