A Million Dollar Idea Comes True On Social Media

ChrisSong    March 3, 2016

Conversations, leads, engagement, reach, impressions, bounce rate, time on site, audience growth rate, response rate….. which social media metrics are meaningful to a campaign? After reading about 20 articles, I found that the more I study on this topic, the guiltier I feel. Because it makes me realize that I have been following some “vanity metrics” of my previous social media campaigns. People follow us, read our posts, and get our emails….. But can any of these metrics say that our audience will go further with us?

During my study, I read below comment following after an article. “Most of the time clients are concerned with their number of Twitter followers or Facebook likes not going up and they usually spend too much money on increasing these numbers. It’s hard to convince them that those metrics are not meaningful and to have them privilege quality over quantity.” (Mike Rubini commented on Kevan Lee’s article: Which Stats Matter: The definitive guide to tracking social media metrics, April 30, 2014) To collect more views, I phoned my friend Shadow Dong, who was the Social Media Account Director of Digitaslbi (a world leading marketing and technology agency) and served my previous employer Pernod Ricard China in Shanghai, China.

“When we talking about social media KPI, the general way is to look at two layers of the metrics. First is the soft result which is also the basic result, like audience growth, number of retweets and likes. To be honest, I don’t so much believe in the value of these metrics. My clients would also more likely to focus on the second layer of KPI, which is about how their information is being shared and posts talked about. Social media is playing more and more important role in e-commerce, so sales revenue becomes another dreamy result. The second layer of results are what my clients call “valuable KPI” and their desire. However, most marketing agencies are only able to guarantee to achieve the ‘soft’ goals.” During the time, Shadow leaded her team to work together with me for several big social media campaigns. Her other clients included Lego, Philips, Banyantree, Baileys, Lux and Omo. Now she works as the Digital Manager of Unilever China.

Given the pressure of ROI, we all wish that the end goal is action not just eyeballs. How can we make such accomplishments in achieving business advantage through data?

Starwood, an American hotel and leisure company that owns brands such as Westin, Sheraton, W Hotel and the Luxury Collection, got $2 million in bookings in Asia thanks to targeted Facebook page post ads on a budget of roughly $ 40,000. The campaign produced as high as a 50X return on investment in 2013.

Back in 2011, Justin Holmerud, a Starwood executive said at a conference of hoteliers that “only 36% buy more after they become a fan.” This was a percentage he wanted to see increased. (How Starwood Hotels made $2m from a Facebook page) In the next 2 years, the company made very different social media strategies. 2011 was all about awareness building (finding fans, getting reach), 2012 was the year for engagement, and talking to the various “communities” it had. 2013 was the year for Starwood to change and doing something new. (How a hotel chain made $2million using social media, Oct 24, 2013)

In that year, Starwood created a Facebook fan page Starwood Hotels Travel Exclusive to promote deals from across it myriad of brands. Within a few months, the page has already attracted some 250,000 fans by placing a few well targeted ads over the network which also generated conversation of potential customers to bookings.

The idea looks almost terrifyingly simple. The logic behind the campaign is that Starwood knew that Facebook fans generally spend 7 to 14 times more than non-fans, meaning that those that have become fans specifically do so because they want to get deals and are therefore spending their money on the room nights being offered via the page. As of 1 October of 2013, it has made $2million net in additional room sales as a result.

Lessons for Others

Social media has changed the way that companies connect with its customers. But they shouldn’t limit their goals. Starwood’s success tells us that you can always exhort your audience to go further. Create call to action, make the benefit clear, and put the button on an outstanding position. A “Book Now” button besides “Like” and “Message” on Starwood’s page has generated million dollars sales! Before Starwood’s success, no hospitality brand had been able to make more than a few thousand dollars in revenue directly from social media. Now, more and more hotels are making it simple for guests to make their reservations right through their brand’s social media pages.

The Starwood success was also built on the back of its previous efforts that had helped to increase visibility among social media users. So we should also understand that valuable metrics should support overall business objectives. Before you plan a campaign, define your business objectives such as brand awareness, traffic, sales, loyalty, and customer support clearly. “Your social media marketing goals require data that helps your decision–making. Therefore, it’s vital that you know what you’re tracking and why. It all comes down to one thing: does the metric help you make decision? When you see the metric, do you know what you need to do? If you don’t, you’re probably looking at a vanity metric.” (Which Stats Matter: The definitive guide to tracking social media metrics, Kevan Lee, April 30, 2014)


Organization: Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide
Industry: Hospitality
Name of Organization Contact: Justin Holmerud, Starwood executive

Authored by: Chris Song

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.


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