Super Bowl, Social Media and ROI

As this roller-coaster ride of 2009 slowly approaches disembarkment, many PR peeps continue to wrap their arms around the (soon-to-be anachronistic?) term/discipline/movement/phenomenon called “social media.” Today’s New York Times re-posted a post from ReadWriteWeb that captured some social media experts’s take on SM’s ROI:

“In the words of one pro, ‘You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.’ In other words, PR can get eyeballs to your site, but it can’t guarantee revenue or members. That’s the job of a well-designed product.”

Here are a few of the notable quotables from the piece:

  • Connie Benson: “Social media monitoring will provide insight across all channels, as well as making social media an active outbound marketing channel.”
  • Chris Brogan: “I see velvet rope networks where some kind of gating to keep out the commons will occur.”
  • Adam Cohen: “Marketing programs [will] focus more on activating brand advocates than general customers.”
  • Ravit Lichtenberg: “While the definition of ROI is evolving to better fit the world of relationships and networks, the ability to demonstrate ROI in hard numbers — not in followers or fans — will become a baseline business requirement in 2010.”

Where’s KD?)

Dana Oshiro‘s RWW piece was prompted by Taly Weiss‘s Trendspotting blog, which held a Twitter-call (vs. cattle call) seeking 140-characterized social media trends in 2010. It arrives at a PRopitious moment in time when Pepsi has chosen to take a bye on its decade-long string of Super Bowl spots in favor of a “$20 million social media campaign” called “The Pepsi Refresh Project.” (This blogger worked to support the company’s Michael Jackson SB spot.)

Having handled PR chores for a fair number of Super Bowl advertising campaigns, including four years running, the ROI was simple: how did we fare against other Super Bowl advertisers in terms of (earned) media coverage (mostly MSM ink & airtime), and 2) what was the level of post-game consumer awareness/site traffic as measured annually by some independent monitoring group. The bellweather for success: garnering greater attention than Anheuser-Busch, which typically outspends all other advertisers.

In reporting on Pepsi’s bold move, Mashable asks the ($20) million dollar question:

Will this strategy be enough to bring back brand awareness to consumers?

I agree. It will be a most interesting exercise to compare Pepsi’s new Super Bowl initiatives with its previous investments. Let’s hope Pepsi’s AOR shares the ROI.


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