Throughout 2012, Ignite Social Media has been working hard to demonstrate the value of social media marketing in a meaningful way. We’ve released a video (embedded below) demonstrating the value of social media across the sales funnel. We’ve also released six ROI models to allow anyone to quantify the value of their social campaigns.

Today, I’m tremendously excited to be able to share new research we helped create with our client, Chrysler Group LLC (specifically the Chrysler, Jeep®, Dodge, Ram Truck and FIAT brands).

Methodology

Through comScore’s 2 million panelists, we were able to track behavior of those who saw our earned (or organic) Facebook impressions (among fans and friends of fans) and those who saw our paid Facebook impressions (Marketplace, Premium and News Feed sponsored ads) against a control group that did not see them. This is research I’ve wanted to do for 3 years, and I’m so grateful to be a small part of it.

The control group was matched with the test group to be, essentially, the same statistically. In other words, they were matched based on:

  • total Internet engagement and searching behavior.
  • Facebook usage in both pre-period and post-period.
  • visitation to any of the auto manufacturer websites being evaluated.
  • similar distribution on the following household demographics: head of household age, income, US census region of residence and Internet connection speed.

Summary

So what did we find? In a nutshell, that people who see Facebook impressions organically are measurably more likely to take actions on the web that suggest they are better sales prospects. Paid exposure also saw improvements in key areas, but in each case organic exposure performed best.

Does this mean that paid exposure isn’t valuable? Not at all. Paid exposure allows brands to reach a wider number of people than they can organically, so it’s an important tool in the toolbox. It can drive volume. Organic exposure is higher quality, according to the research, but is typically among a smaller number of people.

This annoys Mark Cuban, but it’s been that way for a long time.

People who see Facebook impressions organically are measurably more likely to take actions on the web that suggest they are better sales prospects.

Results

Let’s share some specific results.

Likelihood to Visit Brand Websites

Click to Enlarge

What does this mean?

  • Earned exposure significantly increased the percentage of panelists visiting by 1.7 percentage points (or 76%) and paid exposure significantly increased visitation by .4 percentage points (or 28%) over the four week post period.
  • In other words, 2.2% of the control group (no exposure) ended up at one of the Chrysler Group websites in the four weeks following our update. But 3.9% of the people who saw an update organically ended up at the site. Factor this out over hundreds of updates delivered to millions of fans and a 76% increase in lift is meaningful.

Pages Viewed Per Visitor on Brand Websites

 

Click to Enlarge

What does this mean?

  • In the first week after exposure, those who saw our organic updates visited 6 times more pages (9.09) on a Chrysler Group website than those who did not see the update (1.53).
  • Those who saw a paid update visited twice as many pages (6.43) as those that did not see an update (3.12).
  • Improvements in pages viewed per visitor stayed strong for all four weeks of the study period.

Searching Online for Chrysler Brand Terms

 

 

Click to Enlarge

What does this mean?

  • For those who saw our organic exposures, there was a 55% increase in lift in searchers using 18 specific Chrysler Group search terms we studied (a relatively small subset of the many Chrysler Group search terms that drive traffic to Chrysler Group sites).
  • There was not; however, any statistically significant increase in search behavior among those who saw a paid update. Typically, driving search traffic is not a goal of Facebook updates, so this finding is more interesting than troubling.

There’s more data in the study, but Chrysler Group is keeping that internally to help as we continue to refine our social media strategy for each brand. I can say that in every area studied, seeing an organic update led to a statistically significant improvement in positive customer behaviors.

Chrysler Group was recently named Ad Age’s Marketers of the Year for 2012 and last month they were ranked ahead of Ford in Business’ Social Media Brand Index, which measures how companies succeed in social media based on interactions, sponsored content and net sentiment. This focus on sophisticated marketing led them to engage comScore for this study.

For me, it was tremendously exciting to have concrete measurements like these showing that social media marketing leads to positive business results.

Social Media ROI Video

As promised above, here is the earlier video on Social Media ROI we produced: