7 best practices from 67 social media ROI case studies

To answer the #1 question (according to Social Media Examiner), “How do I measure social media return on investment?,” we found 67 case studies that prove social media ROI.  We thought 67 examples was a large enough sample to prove social media ROI.  People asked: What did you learn?
Here are 7 social media best practices all 67 case studies have in common.

  1. HAVE A BUSINESS STRATEGY:  For example, let’s say the business strategy is to increase sales (which figures into most in some way).  The role of social media is to amplify this strategy.  That’s what COFFEE GROUNZ did when they decided to use Twitter as a direct sales channel and it boosted company sales +20%.  DELL also set up Twitter as a direct sales channel with the “Dell Outlet” and booked $3,000,000 in sales/year from a negligible investment.  29% of people on Twitter right now are looking for deals on products and they spend 50% more online than people who don’t use social networks (source: comScore).  Both of these brand were in the right place but first they had a strategy.  It shows you don’t need a social media strategy, you need a business strategy.
  2. SET MEASUREMENT CRITERIA FOR ROI:  IBM decided to let their employees use blogs as an incubator for new business ideas.  The company funded the ones that generated the most visits and collaboration. There were 17,000 blogs set up. There were 100,000 employees publishing posts and 500,000 employees participating in crowdsourcing company “jams.”  How did all these measurement add up?  IBM invested $100 million in new products generating $100 billion in total revenue for a 10-to-1 ROI with a 44.1% gross profit margin.
  3. IDENTIFY TARGETS: When owner, Joe Sorge, of AJ BOMBERS in Milwaukee WI was surfing the net one day, he noticed a food critic who had great things to say about his restaurant’s burgers.  He also noticed the critic posted her review on Twitter and she had 400 followers.  Joe started a conversation with a genuine Tweet of thanks and appreciation.  The conversation developed, so did the Twitter following. Now, 75% of AJ BOMBER’S customers come from Twitter.
  4. JUMP IN:  COCA-COLA achieved its 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.  That’s jumping in.
  5. USE IMAGINATION:  You can’t get more imaginative than blending an iPhone, iPad, golf balls, broom handle, Bic lighter and a glowstick in a blender.  Not all at the same time mind you.  That’s what Tom Dickson did with his BLENDTEC commercials on YouTube. One of his commercials have been viewed over 9,000,000 times.  Most cost about $1000 to make.  They’ve increased company sales +700%.
  6. SHOW FLEXIBILITY:  KFC and STARBUCKS are two companies that ran downloadable coupons on social networks.  When consumer demand for the coupons outpaced supply and both ran out of supplies, KFC still made good on its featured chicken sandwich.  The result was positive PR that more than made up for the cost of the food.  STARBUCKS, on the other hand, turned customers away only to find CARIBOU COFFEE honored their coupons and a lot of customers turned away from STARBUCKS to their competitor.
  7. HAVE COMMITMENT:  To get to the 77 case studies that prove social media ROI, we reviewed 100’s.  The ones featured made the cut because there was a stick-to-it-ness to all of them.  They had a plan.  They executed it well.  They saw it through.  These are business principle behind social media success; one being ROI is not going happen unless you’re “in it to win it.”

Do you have other social media best practices you would include?

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