Brands keep investing in social media, but does it create a real business value? An Ogilvy and ChatThreads study of the fast food industry reveals it is mostly effective on brand favorability.

As recent studies and forecasts suggest, US brands’ spending on social media marketing has been drastically increasing in the past few years, and should hit $8.3 billions in 2015. Yet, it is always hard for brands to measure the ROI they get from investing in social media. Ogilvy and ChatThreads released a study this week about the impact of social media and traditional media on brand perception and direct sales and consumption behaviors, for the fast food industry.

Social media is the most efficient for changing brand perception in the short term

The study showed that over a period of 7 days, 24% out of the 404 participants were exposed to a social media touchpoint – a Facebook status, Twitter feed, brand Facebook Page, YouTube video – compared to 69% stumbling upon a TV ad. Out of 20 brand touchpoints, though – PR, print, TV, Word of Mouth, Out of Home, Website, Search… – social media exposure is more likely to change customers’ and prospects’ brand perception than any other touchpoint,  on the short term. There was a 250% increase in the perception of KFC as “a great dining experience”, and the increase in brand favorability was 5 times higher for people exposed to social touchpoints than who people not exposed. On the other hand, traditional media – and especially TV – have a stronger impact on  brand favorability in the long term. 

Impact on sales is higher when social media is integrated

Direct impact on sales seems to be higher when customers and prospects are exposed to multiple media channels. For instance, when social media was coupled with PR exposure, people increased their spending by 17%. The study shows that investing in social media creates business value, but that integration is necessary for better impact.  

By Alice Gillet
English editorial manager