What is the real value of social media placements?

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Recently our team was conducting an online editorial outreach campaign for a food client. Food bloggers if you don’t know are a talented bunch. They write. They cook. They’re creative. And they only bite (pardon the pun) on something of interest. We never really know how a campaign is going to turn out but we know that anything we can do to get food bloggers closer to a product or culinary experience, the better chance we have of helping them further their interest in our clients and their products.

Our recent campaign hit s stumbling block though. It was slow out of the gates, which is pretty normal when you’re dealing with writers who take the time to research and delicately craft their content. We like this. In addition to a slow progression, our client issued a product recall (nothing major or life threatening) related to one of the items we were promoting. We immediately notified our contacts who had expressed interest in using the product. We wanted to ensure that they weren’t blind sided by any news they might come across. We also wanted to ensure that they had all of the information from our client and the FDA. As some of the stories we generated started to appear, at least one comment emerged citing the recall. Our contact (without any prodding) responded quickly and accurately with factual information.

This episode got us thinking, how do you measure the value of this type of transparency and accountability of a third party? Our campaign hit in tandem with news of the recall, but much of the social media content secured higher rank in search engines like Google and Yahoo. In fact, at the height of the recall news, the product reviews, recipes and contests associated with our campaign accounted for five of the top ten results on Google. Only one recall story made it through to the first page. The recall news is important public information, but it could affect consumer opinions of the product. This in essence meant that people searching the product name would come across more favorable “endorsements” and opinions on the product.
Our client could never have paid for this type of credibility through advertising. In this instance, a simple exercise in product promotion became a major achievement in brand protection. I think the real measure is that this was invaluable. There is no price tag you can place on this sort of success.

How would you measure something like this? What is the real value of social media placements? Some of the factors to be considered include:

  • Prominent visibility on first page of product search results on Google and Yahoo
  • 100% positive product reviews and third party endorsements
  • A potential audience base of more than 1.5 million readers/viewers
  • An average of 20 comments (again, largely positive or neutral) per blog placement

This becomes more of a “what if” scenario to showcase risk mitigation given the product recall situation, but what is the real value from a brand reputation perspective?

[tags]roi, social media measurement, seo, reputation management[/tags]