67 case studies that prove social media ROI 49

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.

10 reasons social media builds business; 4 things it doesn’t do 12

Posted on September 14, 2010 by Rob Petersen

There are reasons why social media works, but, given certain demands, it won’t work.  Here are the principles at play and 10 reasons social media builds business; 4 things it doesn’t do.


  1. IMPROVES SEARCH RANKING:  Social media outposts (e.g. blog, Facebook, Twitter) created or added to your website can improve search rank significantly.  That’s because the extra touch points and publishing frequency drive not only traffic but establish “links” Google uses to establish “authority,” their primary criteria for a high search rank.  In fact, 97% of companies report higher search rankings by adding a blog to their website (source: comScore).
  2. FINDS KEY TARGETS:  You can find any target by almost any characteristic (e.g.  interest, demographics, location, health conditions, product usage, 1-to-1 relationships) using available social search tools.  I’ve connected with people through social media that would have never been possible otherwise.  One, for example, is Kim Kardashian.  I reached Kim through a blog at the bottom of this page.  I don’t think an e-mail or a phone call would have worked.
  3. KEEPS PULSE ON YOUR INDUSTRY, COMPETITORS AND BRAND: Just like you can find key targets, you can and should listen to what they say about your industry, competitors and brand.  Recently, for a client, we found out through “mommy bloggers” about pending legislation that ended up having a big business impact.  Amazing what you can find on the internet.
  4. ACHIEVES SPEED TO MARKET: Many businesses believe being “first mover” is an important competitive advantage.  Social outposts can be established in a matter of days and updated in real time.
  5. IDENTIFIES RETURN ON INVESTMENT: Social Media Examiner says the #1 question people ask is: How do I measure social media ROI?  Since you asked, three blogs down, are “100 measurements for social media ROI.”  I hope there are some that work for your business.
  6. LOWERS INTERNAL COSTS:  From communications to customer services to CRM, examples abound where social media is integrated into these services to deliver a bigger pay-offs at lower costs.
  7. OPTIMIZES AND SCALES: There’s nothing static about social media; it’s meant to be acted upon with learning.  Listen, connect and engage are the activities.  Increase what’s working and pull on what’s not are the actions.
  8. BUILDS TRUST: People like to do business with people they know and social media gives people the chance to get to know and trust you.  86% of people trust a recommendation from someone in their social media circle; only 14% trust advertising (source: Nielsen).
  9. DISCOVERS NEW BUSINESS BUILDING IDEAS: By 2013, Forrester predicts most new products and services will come to market because consumers will tell companies through social media what they want.  Wouldn’t you want to be ahead of the curve?
  10. MAKES YOUR PASSION CONTAGIOUS:  If you’re passionate about what you do and offer, social media can make others feel like you do.  A friend from Milwaukee, owner Joe Sorge of burger establishment, AJ Bombers, increases weekly sales +25% with Twitter.  But, as Joe will tell you, “if I didn’t believe AJ Bombers makes the best burger on the planet, social media wouldn’t accomplish a thing.”


  1. SUBSTITUTES FOR A BUSINESS STRATEGY:  You don’t need a social media strategy.  You need a business strategy.  The role of social media is to amplify it.  Social media can help you if you don’t have one.
  2. ESTABLISHES AN AUDIENCE OVERNIGHT:  Your audience builds as you publish worthwhile content and engage; it doesn’t just appear.  You’ll find watching where, how and why it builds is actually is fun and valuable learning.
  3. IS FREE (OR VERY LOW COST):  Time is money and someone has to plan, set-up, publish and analyze.  Whether you do it or someone does it for you, the medium may be low cost but the time of someone(s) or some company who know what they’re doing isn’t.
  4. SUCCEEDS WITHOUT COMMITMENT:  Without company buy-in and commitment to resources, the presence, content and momentum that make social media work isn’t going to happen.  So, if the thought occurs to just set up Facebook and Twitter pages and use them as a home for uninteresting press releases to check off the box, please reconsider social media.

Is this in line with the reasons you thought social media might work build business for your brand?  Anything you would add?

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