FEATURE29 January 2015

The value of a like


Sitting with a client marketing team recently, we were interrupted by a campaign manager excited to share some news: “We’ve reached 1 million Facebook likes!” Cue collective handshakes, back slapping and the following from the head of marketing: “That’s great guys. Well done. So what does that mean for us?” Cue collective head scratching, feet shuffling and silence.


Sound familiar? It’s a question that organisations are increasingly asking – “What’s the value of a like?”
The short answer is, of course, that a like may or may not have inherent value, depending on its context. But what is clear cut is that counting likes is a fool’s errand. Organisations should instead focus on quantifying the overall impact of social media on their business.

But a review of recent social media campaigns suggests that many are failing to do so. Of over 130 social media campaigns submitted to #IPASocialWorks – a joint initiative between The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, The Market Research Society and The Marketing Society to promote social media effectiveness – for peer review in 2013/2014, just 6% were found to effectively assess the business impact of the campaign.

#IPASocialWorks’ soon-to-be-published industry guide: How to Evaluate Social Media for Marketing Communications, is designed to give marketing and insight professionals the tools to address this shortcoming. It does so by setting out best practice guidelines for measuring and quantifying the business impact of social media, together with case studies demonstrating where and how they have been successfully implemented.

Reckitt Benckiser’s measurement of Facebook marketing activity for Lysol, its market-leading cleaning brand in the US, is one such case study. “When we started this project we didn’t know how to approach the question of measuring social media. We needed to know if and how our activities were driving sales. Should we be investing in social media? What is the optimum marketing mix? How can we maximise our return on investment for social media?” explains Laurent Faracci, SVP Global Marketing & Digital Excellence at Reckitt Benckiser.

Laurent’s team worked with marketing effectiveness agency Ohal to determine the questions to ask and the most appropriate methodology to answer them, bearing in mind that for an established FMCG brand such as Lysol, the direct impact of Facebook and other social media platforms on purchases would be low. So quantifying the business impact of social media meant understanding the role and impact of Facebook across earlier stages of the purchase funnel (which for Reckitt Benckiser breaks down as awareness, involvement and active consideration) and how these work together to drive sales.

By integrating Facebook data into its traditional marketing mix models, and modelling by these customer journey stages, Ohal was able to determine that Facebook activity was primarily driving the awareness and active consideration stages. Furthermore, Ohal found that viral activity from Facebook users liking, sharing and commenting was generating the greatest incremental awareness, while targeted paid advertising was driving consideration. The impact of these earlier customer journey stages on sales means that Facebook demonstrated a positive return on investment for the relevant period. “The analysis has shown us that social media can drive business value, which will be invaluable in supporting marketing budget decisions. It has helped us understand what we should be investing in paid media, but also how we can effectively use owned and earned media to drive the purchase journey,” says Laurent.

So, to come back to the original question – “What’s the value of a like?” – the first step every organisation needs to take is to move away from counting likes and instead develop an approach that will measure the business value, whether that be in terms of sales, cost reduction, customer satisfaction or other business measure. The diverse case studies show that there is no single best methodology as each organisation and its goals will be different. But there are a common set of principals rooted in defining the clear objectives and role of social media for each campaign and, as the Lysol case highlights, in applying the same basics and rigour to social media measurement as to traditional media measurement.

#IPASocialWorks’ How to Evaluate Social Media for Marketing Communications is scheduled for publication on February 2 2015 and will be available online from The Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, The Market Research Society and The Marketing Society.

To read more about Lysol and other case studies, or to find out how to submit your own, visit http://www.ipa.co.uk/page/ipa-social-works-cases.


Celina Burnett is a partner at WPP marketing effectiveness agency Ohal and a member of the #IPASocialWorks team.