101 Examples of Social Business ROI

A few years ago, I put together a list of social media marketing examples. The list contains 324 examples of brands putting social media to use and at that point in the social media industry’s evolution, it was the best of what was around…but it was early days for social business and ROI.

Now that initiatives have been in market, any reasonable business manager would expect to see program results. However, quantified results in social business and brands willing to stand behind them are difficult to find. But the truth is out there…

…and here are 101 examples of social business return on investment, roughly 60% revenue generation and 40% cost reduction. Each example lists brand, activity, and source + year.

    1. Aflac. Community drove online payments increase of 3% led to $95,000 in savings. (Lithium Technologies, 2011)
    2. Alberta Common Wealth Credit Union. Blog, YouTube, Facebook – 2 million impressions, 2,300 new accounts, and $4 million Canadian in new deposits. (Forrester, 2008)
    3. AT&T. Community: 21,000 customer issues resolved, driving 16% improvement in call deflections year/year. (Lithium Technologies, 2011)
    4. Audi. Audi A1 Community: Almost 40,000 people created customized versions of the new model. In total 5.5 million people visited the microsite 119 million times. And the company reports that this program helped generate the largest number of car pre-orders in its history. (Forrester, 2010)
    5. Bank of America. Community drove High School segment sales increased 40 percent from 2008 – 2009; portfolio mix of high school students increased by 27 percent. (Communispace, 2010)
    6. Benefit Cosmetics. Customer generated content drives 10X click-thru rate on “Buy Now” button. (Bazaarvoice, 2011)
    7. Best Buy. Community generates $5M value in annual support savings and sales advocacy. (Lithium Technologies, 2011)
    8. Blendtec. Viral videos increased company sales +700%. (Barnraisers, 2010)
    9. Bonobos. 13 times more cost effective (CPA) to acquire a new customer from Twitter than from other marketing channels. (Twitter, 2011)
    10. Bonobos. Exclusive sale on Twitter generated 1,200% ROI in 24 hours on promoted tweet. (Twitter, 2011)
    11. Bupa. Community drove £190,000 savings through collaboration, online events. (Jive Software, 2011)
    12. Burberry. Social microsites secured 1,000,000 fans and a 10% increase in same-store sales. (Barnraisers, 2010)
    13. Burger King. Subservient Chicken video increased chicken sandwich sales 9% per week a month after launch. (Adweek, 2005)
    14. CDW. Online community member Net Promoter Score 4x average and saved an estimated $4 million. (Communispace, 2007)
    15. Cerner. Community resulted in 13% fewer customer support issues logged. (Jive Software, 2011)
    16. Cerner. Community resulted in 70% decrease in internal HR issues logged. (Jive Software, 2011)
    17. Cerner. Community resulted in shorter approval cycles for writing technical documentation, from 2-6 weeks to hours or days. (Jive Software, 2011)
    18. Charles Schwab. Customer referrals drive 40% of new customers for Charles Schwab (ratings & reviews). (Bazaarvoice, 2011)
    19. Charles Schwab. Online community drives 56% increase in Gen X customer base versus year ago. (Communispace, 2007)
    20. Cisco. Community deflects 120,000 support cases each month. (Lithium Technologies, 2011)
    21. ConAgra Foods. Online community insights-based events produce a 24% higher gross margin ROI for retailers than other events. (Communispace, 2010)
    22. Dell. @DellOutlet on Twitter generated $2 million direct sales, influenced $1 million addt’l (2007 – 2009). (Direct2Dell Blog, 2009)
    23. Domino’s Pizza. Foursquare drove 29% pre-tax profit through promotions. (Barnraisers, 2010)
    24. Electronic Arts. EA was 2nd UK brand to use promoted tweets and trends to promote FIFA 12 video game. Trend engagement level was 11%, well above Twitter’s average ‘benchmark’ for trends, of 3% to 6%. Promoted tweet engagement averaged 8.3% over two-week campaign vs. Twitter benchmark of 1.5%. (Marketing Magazine, 2011)
    25. Elsevier. Wiki drives 80% reduction in interdepartmental e-mail volume. (Socialtext, unkn)
    26. Epson. Visitors interacting with reviews are 67% more likely to convert and have 25% higher average order value. (Bazaarvoice, 2010)
    27. Epson. Reviews drove 98% higher revenue per visitor for Epson. (Bazaarvoice, 2011)
    28. FICO. Community: 850k customers served, resulting in 10% improvement in call deflections annually. (Lithium Technologies, 2011)
    29. FICO. By year three, forum members spend 41% more on products. (Lithium Technologies, 2011)
    30. FONA International. Wiki eliminated almost 50,000 e-mails a year from one specific process. (Socialtext, unkn)
    31. Ford. Fiesta Movement WOM campaign: 31,000 pieces of original Fiesta content and 10,000 online vehicle reservations. (WPP Team Detroit, 2010)
    32. giffgaff. 100% of questions answered by community members in average time of 93 seconds. (Lithium Technologies, 2011)
    33. Gilt Groupe. Online community insights drove 10% increase in shopping cart conversion and a five-point increase in Point-of-Sale Net Promoter Score. (Communispace, 2011)
    34. Hershey’s. House party: 10,000 parties, reached 129,000 people, and say their campaign was seen by 7 million people. (Forrester, 2008)
    35. Honda. Friending Honda campaign increased Facebook fans from 15k to 422k, generated over 3,500 dealer quote requests. (RPA, 2010)
    36. HP. More than 4.6 people have told HP that the forum solved their support issues, which HP says makes customer happier and saves the company millions in support costs. (Forrester, 2010)
    37. IBM. developerWorks community saves $100 million annually from people who use this resource instead of contacting IBM support. (Forrester, 2010)
    38. IHG. Saved the costs of stock footage or original photography and agency fees by using community member photos. (Communispace, 2009)
    39. Indium. Company blogs increased B2B leads, prospects, conversions and sales by double digits. (Barnraisers, 2010)
    40. Intuit. Internal collaboration platform: New ideas at Intuit now get to market in an average of 5 months, vs. 13 months previously. (Forrester, 2010)
    41. Intuit Quickbooks. Business owners engaged with rated ProAdvisors 555% more often than unrated counterparts. (ratings and reviews). (Bazaarvoice, 2011)
    42. Jewelry TV. Reviews drive a 151% lift in site conversion for Jewelry TV. (Bazaarvoice, 2011)
    43. Jewelry TV. Average order value increased 25% when reviews were present (ratings and reviews). (Bazaarvoice, 2011)
    44. Jewelry TV. Customer reviews boost mobile sales by 30% (ratings and reviews). (Bazaarvoice, 2011)
    45. Justin Boots. Exceeded sales goal for new product line by 30 percent, 95% of sales from social media marketing. (Social Media Explorer, 2010)
    46. Kiddicare. 30% reduction in inbound customer communications and first call resolution increased from 60% to 98% via sCRM solution. (GetSatisfaction, unkn)
    47. Kotex. 1.7 million Web site visits, 17,500 tweets about Kotex, 25,000 Kotex discussions in the social space generating 88.5 million impressions, a million girls “activated” on the brand site, 93,000 Likes, and 640 million impressions in major print, broadcast, and online channels. 750,000 people requested samples and these converted at a 42% rate. (Forrester, 2010)
    48. L’Oreal. Facebook tools for local salons drive incremental $4,000 via program. (Mediapost, 2011)
    49. La-Z-Boy. La-Z-Boy captures 13,000 new leads with comfort stories campaign. (Bazaarvoice, 2011)
    50. LendingTree. LendingTree users start the loan process 83% more often when reviews are present. (Bazaarvoice, 2011)
    51. Logitech. Bowiechick “Breakup” video on YouTube doubles Logitech webcam sales on Amazon.com. (CBS Evening News, 2009)
    52. Mattel. Despite product recalls, online community helped support Q4 2007 sales increase of 6%. (Forrester, 2008)
    53. Microsoft. House parties: 40,000 in 12 countries played a role in 3.4 million software purchases. (Forrester, 2010)
    54. Mint. 75% reduction in number of support tickets via sCRM solution. (GetSatisfaction, unkn)
    55. Movistar. Community delivers $5.75m in call deflection savings annually. (Lithium Technologies, 2011)
    56. National Instruments. Community resulted in 46% of all support questions answered by peers instead of support. (Jive Software, 2011)
    57. NetApp. The NetApp community has impacted $500 million in sales and drives 28% of all NetApp web traffic. (Jive Software, 2011)
    58. Old Spice. Old Spice guy Isaiah Mustafa commercials and YouTube responses increase web traffic 300% and contributed to a 106% year/year sales increase for the month. (Ad Age, 2010)
    59. Orange. Listening: saved a few million euros in support costs and helped avoid several potential PR problems. (Forrester, 2010)
    60. Paramount Pictures. #Super8Secret Promoted Trend created a tremendous spike in conversations: Tweets of the hashtag reached nearly nine million impressions in less than 24 hours and mentions of the movie skyrocketed to more than 150 per minute. Receipts for the sneak preview exceeded $1 million, and Paramount said weekend box office surpassed expectations by 52%. (Twitter, 2011)
    61. Petco. Products with reviews decrease return rate by 20%. (Bazaarvoice, 2011)
    62. Petco. 1% of shoppers use “Ask and Answer,” influencing 10% of revenue on website. (Altimeter Group, 2011)
    63. Petco. Q&A content powers 75% more sales; 100% more orders per session; 28% more items per order; 9% higher average order value. (Bazaarvoice, 2011)
    64. Precyse Technologies. $250,000 savings in crowdsourcing new product design. (InnoCentive, 2010)
    65. Premier Farnell. Community drives a 3% purchase conversion rate. (Jive Software, 2011)
    66. Rhapsody. 50% decrease in support costs and 53% decrease in weekly support contacts via sCRM solution. (GetSatisfaction, unkn)
    67. Rubbermaid. Online sales of new products spike 21% with video reviews. (Bazaarvoice, 2011)
    68. Sage Software. Community drove a +20 NPS increase. (Lithium Technologies, 2011)
    69. SAP. Community resulted in a 15% reduction in product release cycles. (Jive Software, 2011)
    70. SAP. Community drive 5% increase in partner sales. (Jive Software, 2011)
    71. SAP. Community resulted in over 90 ideas delivered or in product development. (Jive Software, 2011)
    72. Scholastic. Online community insights resulted in a 3% lift in sales for test marketing message. (Communispace, 2008)
    73. Scotiabank. Community eliminated over 300 intranet sites as well as the need to build new sites. (Jive Software, 2011)
    74. Secret. Among women viewing the video, 57% said their impression of the Secret brand improved and purchase intent among women who participated on Facebook went up by 11% (33% for teens). Clinical sales increased 8% despite a 70% decrease in TV support. (Forrester, 2010)
    75. Sephora. Community users spend 2.5x more than average customers, superfans spend 10x more. (Lithium Technologies, 2011)
    76. Spiceworks. Community members have produced more than 25,000 product reviews and over 100,000 discussions. (Forrester, 2010)
    77. Sprint. Brand monitoring helped uncover conversation insights to drive campaign messaging changes, resulting in $133m in additional revenue. (MotiveQuest, 2011).
    78. Starbucks. 75,000 product and service ideas suggested. (Forrester, 2008)
    79. StrongMail. Migrated support calls to online community, reducing call volume by 50%. (Jive Software, 2011)
    80. Subaru. Online community – 68% of respondents said they were “much” or “somewhat” more likely to purchase post-project. (Communispace, 2008)
    81. Swiss Re. Community paid for itself in less than 12 months by decommissioning legacy systems. (Jive Software, 2011)
    82. T Mobile. Employees have reduced sales & service product training from 1.5 hour sessions to 15 minutes. (Jive Software, 2011)
    83. TechSmith. Saved about $100,000 annually in staffing costs via sCRM solution. (GetSatisfaction, unkn)
    84. TomTom. In one month, community handled 20,000 cases resulting in $150k of savings. (Lithium Technologies, 2011)
    85. Toshiba. Saved $213,000 by adding online component to 5 events, doubling attendance. (Jive Software, 2011)
    86. Toshiba. Community helps new sales reps and dealers reach six-month sales goals in four months, increasing sales revenue attainment by 30%. (Jive Software, 2011)
    87. Toshiba. Retention rates for sales reps has increased 13% since using community. (Jive Software, 2011)
    88. TransUnion. Estimated $2.5 million in savings in less than five months while spending about $50,000 on a social networking platform. (Socialtext, 2009)
    89. Travelocity. Travelocity gnome on Chatroulette – 40 days, 350,000 impressions and 400 prospect conversations. (ClickZ, 2010)
    90. TurboTax. 71% likelihood of customers interacting with @TeamTurboTax (Twitter support) to recommend TurboTax. (CoTweet, 2010)
    91. TurboTax. Yahoo Answers: 58% higher engagement rate than people coming in from other channels. (Forrester, 2010)
    92. TVG. Community members spend 36% more than average. (Lithium Technologies, 2011)
    93. UBM. Community allows for collaboration, saving $20,000 and more. (Jive Software, 2011)
    94. UBM. Community reduced time from 3 days to 30 minutes for key sales information. (Jive Software, 2011)
    95. University of London. Internal social network allows students to collaborate remotely, expected to deliver future savings in the region of £300,000 per year in print, courier and administration costs alone. (IBM, 2008)
    96. UPS. POPURLs dashboard: 32,000 video views, 25% regular return visits to the site, and average of almost seven minutes spent on the site per visit. (Forrester, 2010)
    97. USAA. USAA saw online account initiation increase by almost 16,000 new accounts across the five product categories the first year with Bazaarvoice. (ratings and reviews). (Bazaarvoice, 2011)
    98. Virgin America. Exclusive flash sale on Twitter raised the maximum $50,000 in charitable donations for Stand Up To Cancer. It was also one of the top five sale days ever for the airline. (Twitter, 2011)
    99. Virgin America. Exclusive flash sale on Twitter drove 25% increase in sign-ups over the previous week to Elevate, Virgin America’s loyalty program. (Twitter, 2011)
    100. Vistaprint. Community tracked $30,000 in social revenue in 2009. (Lithium Technologies, 2011)
    101. Yum Brands. Community helped new product launch internationally in 4 months instead of 18. (Jive Software, 2011)


  1. Huggies. Social coupon drove $2.5 million in revenue. Users sharing the coupon via Twitter, Facebook, or email increased redemption value from $1.50 to $3.00. Referrals drove 630,000 visits to microsite; ads had 56% CTR and emails had 55% open rate. 67% of people that engaged the program took the offer. (Digiday, 2012)

Thanks in particular to Katy Keim and Paul Gilliham at Lithium, Gia Lyons at Jive, and Erin Nelson at Bazaarvoice for helping source much of this information.


Join the Conversation


  1. This post should be retitled as 100 Results. Without knowing the investment to achieve these results you can’t determine the Return on Investment.

    While the numbers look good for social media interaction knowing whether the R.O.I. was positive or negative would be more useful.

  2. Nice list of examples of success stories in using digital content and communications for business results, but I have to agree with @Roaddoggz that without understanding the actual investment, it is not a true understanding of the return on that investment.

    Some examples don’t necessarily point to ROI, but do shed light on the fact that that “community” members/users tend to be more loyal to the brands (i.e. TVG. Community members spend 36% more than average.)

    In any case, this list took some time to compile and you deserve credit for that. It is a good start to understanding the impact of “social” content for companies.

    What would be even more helpful would be an analysis of the various “social” channels and a delineation of what constitutes “social” vs. just having an online presence or more traditional marketing tactics that leverage digital content creation and distribution channels.

  3. Social media gurus expect a lot from one to three sentences in a bullet point. Unfortunately, I have not yet reached that level of blogging zen, so you’ll have to use this list at your own risk.

  4. Peter,
    Glad to see that #SAP Community Network (#SCN) is included as an example 3X via Jive. We have more examples & can talk 2 you directly about them, for your next list.

  5. It’s a positive to see lists like this. I want to echo the comment above by Roaddoggz regarding true ROI. To define that in terms acceptable to the still many critics out there, especially CFOs and CMOs, the amount of investment in more of these examples should be available.

  6. If you’re a relatively new reader in the 5+ year history of this blog, welcome! Feel free to click on the “about me” link at top and learn more about my background and work.

    In my experience working with brands faced with decisions around emerging technology, a business case must be built to justify investment. How do you build a financial model to gauge return? You start with base level activities, such as customer acquisition, which have associated revenue and cost. Estimating the efficacy of activities requires comparables; it’s dangerous to run with “we only need 1%” thinking.

    In response to the comments here about “real ROI,” you’re correct in pointing out that additional information could be made available – that most companies have no incentive to share publicly. This list provides referenceable statistics from major brands on social business activities. Producing these results requires investment, which manifests as cash, FTEs, and depreciation in a financial model. The outputs show return on that investment. Naturally, no brand strives to increase purchase intent alone or merely grow a fan base. Businesses need sales.

    Rejecting these statistics as “not real ROI” and insisting that the answer instead be a basic math equation – revenue/expense = return – is too simplistic. Generating sales requires spend to produce results in many different stages – each with a rate of return. This is why marketers use correlative measurement models and focus on customer experience: the path to purchase is often a long and winding road.

    The results achieved by other companies are driven by a strategy different than your own (a discussion for another day). Insisting on a single definition may work for online discussion, but ignores the complexity of real-world business models that drive decision-making. For a nuanced look at calculating ROI in social media, see this: http://forrester.typepad.com/groundswell/2007/01/new_roi_of_blog.html

    If you understand finance, let’s engage in a meaningful discussion around IRR, NPV, and DCF in relation to ROI. Add in attribution modeling, influence, and emerging trends from a marketing perspective. Then we’ll have a vibrant, progressive ROI discussion. What do you think?

  7. Awesome list, Peter. Observation: From the descriptions in your list, social ads played either no role or only a behind-the-scenes role in these ROI success cases. Given that Facebook is the most predominant social platform, and most brands struggle to achieve minimum thresholds of connections, many brands engage heavily in Facebook Ads to establish connections and subsequently drive engagement. We need more thoughtful discourse on how social ads play a role in in ROI, especially considering how integrated they are into natural, organic interaction — in Facebook and, inevitably, in Twitter and more. You can bet this only will grow, especially considering that the dominant social platform also is an ad-supported entity with a huge quest to grow.

  8. #38. “Crowd-sourcing identified 10 best incubator businesses, funded for $100 million, generatiung $100 billion in total revenue for a 10-to-1 ROI with a 44.1% gross profit margin. (Barnraisers, 2010)”

    But IBM’s total revenue is $100 billion.

    The math doesn’t work.

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Being: Peter Kim