Use Social Marketing to Drive Business Outcomes

August 2, 2017
Contributor: Chris Pemberton

How IBM and Toyota built a business case for social marketing.

When Toyota wanted to introduce its new Prius hybrid car into the Australian market, it had a plethora of channel choices from which to choose. Social marketing, either organic, paid or a hybrid of the two, empowers marketers to drive favorable word of mouth and awareness at scale by connecting individuals with each other and with brands. As a result, Toyota launched the Prius in Australia using only Facebook and Instagram, and drove a 53% increase in traffic to the Prius website.  

“Use cases such as this can help build a business case for social marketing, tighten the focus of your strategy and attribute results directly to your efforts,” says Elizabeth Shaw, research director, Gartner for Marketers.

Almost 40% of marketing leaders surveyed in the 2016 Digital Channel Survey named social marketing as both a top driver of business results and a primary area they need to strengthen in the coming year. As senior management places greater revenue accountability on marketing leaders, social marketing programs must align to business goals and show results. Social marketing (organic and paid) is most effective at influencing the awareness and advocacy stages of the buyer journey.


Awareness use case: Toyota

When harnessed as part of a focused, measurable campaign, the power to drive awareness and connections can drive business results that are directly attributable to a social marketing program.

When Toyota launched Prius to Australian consumers in 2016, the company bought social ads such as lead generation, carousel and canvas ads in targeted locations. The campaign reached 7.6 million people, 69% of which Toyota identified as being in its target audience. The auto maker reported a 13-point increase in ad awareness and a 41% increase in Prius test drives directly from the campaign.

Recommendation: Clearly define which stage of the buying journey your campaign will affect and define the four key factors of a strong social marketing campaign: A target audience, the social networks on which to engage that audience, the actions that audience should take to drive business outcomes, and how to measure success


Advocacy use case: IBM

Employee advocacy programs, when thoughtfully developed and organized, can amplify social marketing and sales efforts while also improving employee engagement.

IBM created an internal online hub enabling employees to share promotions on their personal Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts. Approximately 1,000 employees participated in the program, which supplied roughly six pieces of social content every day that employees could choose to share with their followers. The program drove 120 million digital impressions and 141,000 clicks directly to campaign content.

Recommendation: Start with a pilot phase and invite a subset of employees to participate. Encourage feedback regarding what works and what doesn’t via online surveys or a dedicated point of contact.

“Use these case studies as benchmarks to hone your social marketing strategy and to build a business case for continued investment in the channel,” Shaw says.

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