John Akerson's Thoughts

Business, technology and life

Numbers That Drive Social Media Strategy

I was reading Joe Waters’ intelligent blog earlier today. He has a post titled “How My NonProfit plans to use social media”  His post was very interesting because it talked about strategy without numbers.

His thoughts on strategy were really good – but numbers can convert people to a strategy that otherwise might not make sense. I think social media provides benefits that cannot be gotten elsewhere, at a minimal cost that is extremely hard to equal with other. The difficult question is “How does that get quantified?”

I’ve thought back to points that I made more than a dozen years ago for “what a website could do for a company.” Some of the most powerful numbers I used back then to support my strategy points were from Dell.  Here are some:

1) Things you put on a website – are there 24/7/365 so essentially, they provide billable services that far exceed the time put into them.

2) By mid 1998- Dell’s internet sales exceeded $6 million per day by mid-1998.

3) By 2000, online sales had topped $50 million per day and 840 million page requests per quarter.

How does that relate to social media? There are parallels between those early internet days, and social media as it sits today. Because of the open API and available tools, its pretty easy to show twitter growth for some companies. Here are some numbers:

1) In December 2008, DellOutlet attributed $1m of sales DIRECTLY to their Twitter presence.
2) As of June, 2009, DellOutlet attributed $3m of sales DIRECTLY to their Twitter presence.
3) In February 2009, Dell had 15,000 followers.
4) As of September 15th, they have more than 1.1 million.
5) From opening the DellOutlet account in 2007 to September 15th, they’ve made 685 updates.

Why are those powerful numbers? That averages to less than one update every day. Each of those updates are 140 characters or less and likely took less than 10 minutes to make. (not counting the custom URLs and coupon codes that were made to track sales)

Here is an equation that gives numbers to support social media strategy:
1400 minutes of employee time (app 23.3 hours) + website costs
$3m in directly tracked revenue + goodwill + customer responsiveness + voice of the customer input + 1.1m followers/fans/potential customers + 1.1m instant viewers of any advertisement posted for the Dell Outlet. (as of 9/15/09) 

That is 1.1 million people who are likely receptive to products, services, and Dells message because Dell connected with them in a method of their choosing. $3m of revenue and 1.1m customers is most certainly an extremely small percentage of sales for Dell, but it is significant that they built that micro-blogging micro-channel with such micro-efforts.

Do you know of other numbers to drive social media strategy?


September 15, 2009 - Posted by | Business, Competitive Advantage, Technology | ,

1 Comment »

  1. Right on, John. I hope when I get my social media program up and running and in high gear, I’ll have concrete numbers to report that will show the real ROI of social media. In the meantime, posts like yours help!

    Comment by Joe | September 16, 2009 | Reply

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