Using Social Media for ROI

The use of social media has its supporters and critics when it comes to your business.  We recently found the lists below of companies that have successfully used social media to better their business and enhance connectivity to their customers.  At the end of the day, it is all about return on investment (ROI).

We hope you find this list and the related stories as interesting as we did:


1. AFTER STEAZ: Organic Tea doubled sales through coupons downloaded and shared on Facebook and Twitter with discussion of the how and why organic teas mattered. 250,000 coupons were downloaded and 2,830 tweets were recorded an hour.

2. AJ BOMBERS: Owner Joe Sorge used Twitter as social maître’d to build relationships with 75% of his customers at his Milwaukee burger joint and weekly sales were up +60% a year later without spending $1 in traditional media. AJ BOMBERS also declared a “Foursquare Day” to earn a Swarn Badge and increased sales +110%.

3. BEST BUY (Twelp Force): Best Buy employee communities grew to 2,200 employees within 3 months and responded to over 13,000 customers on social networks answering public questions, concerns, and opinions. The Twitter feed @twelpforce now counts over 29,000 followers and the number of questions averages 100-125 per day and is considered a key value-add by customers and the company.

4. BLENDTEC: CEO Tom Dickson ran viral commercials on YouTube to sell blenders direct-to-consumers and increased company sales +700%.

5. BURBERRY: Social microsites secured 1,000,000 fans and a 10% increase in same-store sales

6. CADBURY (Wispa Chocolate Bar): 22,000 fans of Cadbury Wispa petitioned the company on Facebook to bring back the discontinued chocolate bar. 40 million bars were released and sold out in 18 weeks, a rate of 4 per second.

7. CISCO: Launched a new router and achieved goals using only social media.  This saved the company $100,000s.

8. CLOROX: Launched online community,, with blog and Twitter effort on Labor Day weekend at the beginning of the school year. Twitter page was among the Top 10 trending topics over Labor Day weekend and blog was recognized by the Marketing to Mom Coalition and mommy bloggers for excellence in terms of delivering sharable information.

9. COFFEE GROUNDZ: Used Twitter as a direct ordering channel between the company and its customers. Coffee Groundz reported 20%-30% increase in company sales and market share via Twitter

10. COMCAST: Started “Comcast Cares”, a Twitter customer service center, and attracted 2,700 followers. Many who were critics of the company became raving fans. Quality of attention and dialogue serve as a model for the company.

11. CONAGRA FOODS (Hunt’s Ketchup): Advocates of Hunt’s pleaded with ConAgra through Facebook to stop putting high fructose corn syrup in what they believe is the “best ketchup ever.” The company acts responsibly and stops. Ok, this might not track to direct sales, but it’s a great use of social media for a greater good.

12. DELL: Used Twitter to create “Dell Outlet” and booked $3 million in revenue in one year from Twitter postings

13. DOMINO’S: Credited Foursquare with a 29% pre-tax profit through promotions that encourage people to check into its stores.

14. DR. VAKSMAN (DENTIST): Dentist with five month old dental practice in San Francisco attracted 320 new clients through social media presence including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube.

15. DUNKINS DONUTS: Ran annual promotion “Create Dunkin’s Next Donut” through social networks to award grand winner with $12,000 plus year’s supply of donuts. It generated more than 130,000 submission for 174,000 votes and “a healthy response in sales during the promotion period,” according to manager of interactive and relationship marketing, David Tyler.

16. HARLEY DAVIDSON: ( Harley owners created website and social community totally funded by users with user-generated content. Here, Harley owners trade photos, jokes, where to locate hard to find parts, and advice on Harley models and ownership. Plus, there are at least 7 mechanics on-call at all times. now has 35,000+ and cost to Harley is negligible.

17. HISPANITO: Major hispanic online community,, created entirely through social network. Within a year, it had 56,000 registered users plus 150,000 unique visitors with 6,000,000 pages viewed every month.

18. IKEA: Used one of the most popular and basic functions on Facebook- tagging pictures- and used this to its advantage to promote its showroom products.  From sales people to the average consumer, this created recommendations and advocates all over the world.  Combined, this created a +15% lift in sales.

19. IBM: Decided to let company employees set up their own blogs and Twitter accounts in order to service customers, and reported the following stats: There was no IBM corporate blog or official Twitter account but there were 17,000 internal blogs, 100,000 employees using internal blogs and as many as 500,000 participants in company crowd-sourcing “jams.” Results showed: Crowd-sourcing identified 10 best incubator businesses, which IBM funded for $100 million and generated $100 billion in total revenue for a 10-to-1 ROI with a 44.1% gross profit margin

20. INDIUM: A company that manufactures special alloys isn’t sexy; neither is convincing 14 of its engineers to start blogs. But that exactly what the company does. It increased leads, prospects, conversions and sales by double digits plus it gave customers the opportunity to know the company’s employees personally.

21. JETBLUE: Started a Twitter account to have more direct relationship with customers and potential customers, and to listen and respond to how it could serve them better and deal directly with any complaints. JetBlue now has over 1.5 million followers.

22. KOGI: A Food Truck serving Korean BBQ in LA used Twitter to let their customers know where the truck was and when it would be in customers’ neighborhoods. They had over 65,000 followers and 300 to 800 customers every time the truck parked.

23. LIVESTRONG: Raised $10.8 million with the Livestrong Challenge which occurred through social media channels with a blog serving as the hub. This occurred in 2009, in the midst of a deep recession that was particularly hard on non-profits.

24. LOUIS E. PAGE INC: Fencing supplier really took off when now-owner Duncan Page added a blog to the business website. Duncan himself was surprised to find that an article about how to use woven wire fencing to build a horse paddock attracted more than 1,500 views. The result: traffic, media coverage, and an 850% increase in sales leads.

25. MOONFRUIT: Website builder offered free Apple product via Twitter and got 44,113 followers that resulted in a 600% increase for sign-up. As another result of the promotion, “Moonfruit” and “Moonfruit Twitter” rose to top-ranking search term on Google for website builders.

26. NECU JADRANU KOSOR ZA PREMIJERKU: 300 member Croatian Facebook group used Facebook and Twitter to break news of sudden, unexpected resignation of prime minister of Croatia a few minutes before mainstream media. They became the largest Facebook group in Croatia within 24 hours and now have over 100,000+ fans.

27. ORACLE: Layered social networks on top of current communication channels and trained 25,000 partners, while reducing costs, boosting satisfaction and increasing PR.

28. PIZZA HUT: iPhone app for ordering food accounted for 50% of orders and generated $1,000,000 in revenue.

29. PROCTER & GAMBLE: Launched social community for Tampax and Always with the website The site focused on the shared interest of early teen girls. Social community outperformed traditional channels with ROI of 4-to-1. was expanded to 21 countries.

30. SICKKIDS: The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario, set up a wiki, CasafinOntario Wiki, for doctors to access resources and share “best practices.” Over 400 physicians participated in the Wiki and comparisons were made between those who did and did not. CafasinOntario Wiki users reported higher levels of practice change, greater CAFAS knowledge, and greater satisfaction with CAFAS implementation supports. Not only did they feel their learning curve had been accelerated thanks to the wiki, they felt more comfortable with transition.

31. SNAPPLE: Created Twitter account to share simple facts about its beverages and gained 10,000 followers.

32. STARBUCKS ( to customers for new product ideas. “We used to launch a new product and it cost millions of dollars. Now, when we launch a new product, we already have millions of fans,” says Chris Bruzzo, Vice President Brand, Content and Online at Starbucks.

33. TURBOTAX: TeamTurboTax launched Twitter campaign to respond and answer questions during key tax season and found customers were 71% more likely to recommend TurboTax because of their interactions with the company through Twitter.

34. VIRGIN AMERICA: Used “promoted tweets” to offer additional values to travelers and revenues to Virgin American and saw 6%-15% of travelers logged on through WiFi connections for 300 to 500 inflight tweets per day.


1.ADIDAS: Used social networks to do guerrilla marketing on mobile devices (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, SMS) in and around the 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 networking 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 sometimes 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 numerous PR firms. 

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 Flickr, 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 a 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 decisions 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: An off broadway play, Fela, created a 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 tools created an 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, which surpassed 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 instead of 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 donations for 1,100,000 bowls of dog food.

25.PAGANUM FARMERS MARKET: Small network of UK farmers proved advertising through blogs and social networks 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 customer 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 potential customers and provided free credit reports/scores, home value reports, 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 instead, Caribou Coffee did. 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 built a 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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