Maximizing the Power of Like
According to an eMarketer survey, most advertisers and agencies measure the impact of their social efforts only through soft metrics like engagement. These include the number of followers, comments and time spent on social pages. While these metrics are an important yardstick, determining true ROI requires measurement of social marketing’s impact down to the revenue-level. Although this is inherently difficult with limitations of current tracking technology, brands can measure incremental sales attributed to brand exposure through social media. Here’s how Starbucks did it, as detailed in a white paper called “The Power of Like”:
Borrowing the A/B testing methodology from paid media advertising, a test group and a control group were created. Both groups included Fans as well as Friends of Fans with similar demographic and behavioral characteristics. For 4 weeks prior to applying brand exposure, the purchase incidence for both groups was measured to ensure they were nearly identical. The test group was then exposed to brand messages and posts for a period of time, while the control group had no social brand exposure whatsoever. The purchase incidence of each group was measured again four weeks after brand exposure was applied.
The result? The test group showed 38% greater incidence to purchase than the control group (2.12 percentage points vs. 1.54 percentage points). The lift in purchase incidence increased week-over-week after brand exposure was applied too, showing the latent effects of exposure, continued or one-time.
When Target conducted this study, it found similar results. The lift in purchase incidence for Target was 21%. What was surprising is that Friends of Fans showed a greater lift (27%) compared with Fans (19%). This finding strengthens the case for brand “amplification”. Instead of just stopping at Fan Acquisition, brands should have an engagement strategy in place to reach Friends of Fans too. One way to do this is through Sponsored Stories, which help promote brand engagement to users’ friends.
It is needless to say that there is a symbiotic relationship between paid, owned and earned media. Each can augment another and inform the way programs are executed and measured. Knowing how each type contributes to the eventual goal and optimizing accordingly is what would get marketers to a stage where 1 + 1 = 3.