social media ROI: it’s black and blue !

The latest Chief Marketing Officer survey[1] shows that only 13% of senior marketing managers can quantitatively show the business results of social media – not too far from the 25% who can see that dress is black and blue. Could this be because blue is a color that people have only recently been able to distinguish[2]? How can you train your eyes to see the black bottom line of social media investments?

In every project I was involved in, we were able to show a ‘hard’ business result from at least one of the company’s social media investments. A famous retail chain saw both offline and online traffic go up after consumers started sharing their love and experiences on social media[3] A worldwide beer brand made higher profits when specific words are mentioned on social media. A major consumer packaged good saw substantial increases in sales and distribution from a social media campaign asking people how they use toilet paper.dress

In each case, explaining sales by traditional marketing and social media missed important points on how they drive one another. Social media experts focus on the pure ‘white’ metrics of engagement demonstrated in customer activities untainted by paid marketing. Managers in traditional marketing departments consider only the ‘golden’ standards of the 20th century regarding consumer impressions, purchase funnel stages and purchase. To see the right picture, we have to model how and how much each of these activities are contributing to the blue rivers leading potential customers to willingness-to-pay, purchase and loyalty, which help the company’s bottom line in black. Across 15 product and service categories, this recent study demonstrates how the interplay of both online metrics and survey-based metrics help to better drive and predict brand sales[4]


Is your organization seeing white and gold or black and blue? Let us know how we can help adjust your bosses’ glasses. After all, if social media can work for toilet paper, it can definitely work in your industry.

[1] Duke University’s CMO Survey:






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