Social Media ROI, a Tale of Two Brands

Posted March 21st in Social Media

Right up front I want to apologize for this long article, we try to use word economy in our writings.    However, this is an important debate and I wanted to take the time to source my views.  I usually try to write about concepts and not specific brands, however, this comparison is too perfect to pass up.  Full disclosure, a local Domino’s franchise in Michigan has used our services before, but we have done no work on their corporate branding.  This posting is just opinion; no clients have paid for exposure in this blog.  OK, disclaimers over, now on to the show.

Recently I had a conversation with someone regarding Social Media and its ability to draw a direct correlation from his time spent to his return on investment.  This person has a very accomplished background with data sets and conversions.   Simply stated he is in love with the formulas of the World Wide Web.  I respect this person a great deal, but when it comes to social, I believe he missed the point.  Social is called social for a reason. There are two brands that come to mind, with vastly different experiences, that set up the debate very nicely.

First up is Gap.  If you have ever worked with relaunching a logo you know if can be a very expensive project.  GAP decided to take this mission on two years ago and ditch their iconic, established logo.  The results were immediate and very damaging. Below is an excerpt of an article written by Money Magazine.  The entire article is linked at the very bottom.

“This is the worst idea Gap has ever had. I will be sad to see this change take place,” a Facebook user wrote on Gap’s Facebook page. “If this logo is brought into the clothing [store] I will no long[er] be shopping with the Gap. Really a bummer because 90% of my clothing has been purchased there in the last 15+ years.” To appease disappointed customers, Gap immediately responded to the feedback — and asked for better ideas.  “We know this logo created a lot of buzz and we’re thrilled to see passionate debates unfolding! So much so we’re asking you to share your designs,” the company said on its Facebook page late Wednesday. “We love our version, but we’d like to see other ideas. Stay tuned for details in the next few days on this crowd sourcing project.”

Oops, too late.  They went back to their traditional logo not long after this quote.  The whole experience disillusioned shoppers and made them seem out of step with their biggest brand champions.  The wave is already on the shore, but more on that analogy later.

Now let’s rewind a few years back and look at Domino’s.  The pizza chain had not updated its recipe for almost 50 years; it was a top tier brand but was not growing.  To breathe some life into their offerings they decided to push into the sandwich market.  During this time they did not have a social plan to speak of, and it costs them.  Two employees in a North Carolina location posted a video on YouTube doing gross things to the food.  Within 24 hours, 6 of the top 14 Google returns for “Domino’s Sandwich” was for the gross video and not the new offerings themselves.  Their marketing push was hijacked overnight.  The chain quickly set up a twitter account and went into damage control.  To be fair, you can’t judge a whole company by the actions of a few rogue employees.  It didn’t take long before they stopped talking and started listening.  “What do you think of our crust, sauce, etc…”  The rest is history, they used this customer feedback to launch an aggressive  campaign making them “the people’s pizza.”  Americans don’t like perfection, if anything many of us enjoy pulling for the underdog when the mighty get too strong (think Yankees, Jordan, Patriots, etc.).  What we really love to cheer for is the pursuit of perfection, the quest.  Domino’s tapped into that feeling and showed how they would do better because their customers cared enough to help shape the company.

Social media is a wave and is coming to shore whether you like it or not.  You can either dig in your toes and try not to get knocked over, or grab a surfboard and harness the power for a great ride.  Lets go back to basics for a quick wrap up:

There are 4 stages to a typical sale (Information, Interest, Research, Action).  Stage one is all about reach, its where you cast a wide net and get your message to the masses.  However, stage two is critical, if your message doesn’t speak to a consumer’s wants, needs, or desires there will be no interest and people will not engage in process.  A smart social campaign will gather your most passionate fans and help you better understand why they use you and not someone else.  If you take that feedback and let it influence your next marketing campaign, it will ring more true in stage two, and more people will become interested. In short your ads will reflect your users, and that message is much more powerful than a “company pitch”.  This will lead to more engagement and then on to the sale process.  To quote the 90s hip hop group Tag team “Whoomp There it is”.

This concept while powerful, doesn’t fit well onto a conversion chart and hence the continuous question, “What is the ROI on Social Media?”

Missteps to learn from: (they tried to fight the wave)


Drake University (this is legendary a must read to believe article):

The goal all should aspire too: (they grabbed a surfboard and rode that wave)






About the Author

With 15 years of client brand management experience in both broadcast and digital, I wake up every morning excited for what is next.