Tweet This: Social Endorsements Beat Social Media Ad Buys

The art and science of social media advertising and marketing is still nascent, but new research being released today suggests that brand endorsements streamed by celebrities directly to friends and followers on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, is significantly more effective than conventional display ads placed on social media pages. The findings, which are based on an analysis of more than 200 celebrity endorsement campaigns on Facebook and Twitter vs. a corresponding number of ads on Facebook, indicated "performance lifts" that were a minimum of 50% greater for streamed celebrity endorsements.

"Dollar for dollar, you are actually going to receive more branding, and more impression impact, using streamed endorsements on Facebook and Twitter, than people seeing an ad on Facbeook, because the engagement rate is so much higher," says Ryan Steelberg, CEO of Brand Affinity Technologies (BAT), which conducted the analysis involving campaigns it executed for undisclosed brands in the automotive, entertainment, technology and retail categories involving endorsements from celebrities including Drew Brees, Snoop Dogg, Matt Hasselbeck, Enrique Iglesias, Khloe Kardashian, Nick Swisher, and Kendra Wilkinson.

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Steelberg described the performance of the social media endorsements as being "magnitudes" higher than the corresponding ads placed on social media pages. Specifically, he said celebrity endorsements on Facebook averaged a 50% improvement in cost-per-action (CPA) vs. conventional ads placed on Facebook. Clickthrough rates were 21 times greater.

Endorsements streamed through Twitter were somewhat weaker on clickthroughs, but higher on actual conversions. Celebrity endorsed tweets generated clickthrough rates that were 17 times greater, and CPAs that were 72% higher than ads on Facebook.

Steelberg said the test covered campaigns that spent a total of about $70,000 each on the three "buckets" being compared: celebrity plugs on Facebook and Twitter, and conventional ads on Facebook. The Facebook ads were not endorsements, but conventional brand messages.

Steelberg acknowledged that the media of celebrity social endorsements and social media advertising are still young, and that performance would likely change over time as celebrity, consumer and brand behaviors evolve, but that at least for now, endorsements seem like a more cost effective option.

Steelberg also acknowledged that BAT has a vested interest in promoting the value of social media endorsements, because it is one of its core services, but he said BAT also is heavily staked in marketing celebrity endorsements via traditional media - primarily radio - and he said that the two media actually work very well together. He likens Twitter's more ephemeral nature to radio buys, because they require continuous frequency for a brand's message to resonate, vs. Facebook, which tends to have more permanence with user's posts remaining on their walls and friends' newsfeeds over time.

Taylor Valentine, vice president of social media and relationship marketing for Horizon Media, agreed. Valentine, who has worked with BAT on celebrity endorsement campaigns in the past, got a preview of the results, and said they "make sense," but added that social endorsement campaigns have to be in keeping with the goals and spirit of the brand that is using it, as well as the celebrities touting them. More than anything, he said there has to be an organic and "genuine" connection between the celebrity and the brand, and that the campaign must appear authentic to the consumer. When done correctly, Valentine said he could see marketing budgets shifting from conventional display advertising in social media to streamed celebrity endorsements via social media.

"The trick for companies like BAT or Ad.ly [which competes with BAT] is making the best connection, and the best means the most natural connection, between a celebrity and a brand, because that is what yields the most influence and the greatest brand results," he said.

6 comments about "Tweet This: Social Endorsements Beat Social Media Ad Buys".
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  1. Thom Kennon from Free Radicals, March 10, 2011 at 8:37 a.m.

    It pains me, and hurts us all, to see this kind of self-serving supplier generated "research" given the light of day.

    At least it bears some comical semblance to the old game we used to play in the school yard @ St. Columbanus in Peekskill in the 60s --- "If you had to die, would you rather drown in a cesspool or choke on a pound of dog doo?"

    So I'm left wondering if some Kanye promo bleat tweet is a better way to go than the badly executed "Dating App" ad that seems to haunt my Facebook right rail daily.

    Thom Kennon | @tkennon | bigevidence.blogspot.com

  2. Tim Kilroy, March 10, 2011 at 9:04 a.m.

    This is like a news alert - "Celebrity Endorsements Draw Attention!", and in other breaking news, "Sex sells"! Nothing to see here...no news or insight at all.

  3. Frank Reed from Marketing Pilgrim, March 10, 2011 at 9:20 a.m.

    PR disguised as research is still PR. @ Thom - you played some rough thought games up in Peekskill, huh? :-)

  4. Thom Kennon from Free Radicals, March 10, 2011 at 9:26 a.m.

    @ Frank, yes, the rough thought games helped us sharpen the required wits to stay ahead of punishing nuns and preying priests :)
    TK

    Thom Kennon | @tkennon | bigevidence.blogspot.com

  5. Angelique Creatively from AFMarCom, March 10, 2011 at 10:30 a.m.

    My question is: How do celebrity endorsements in a newsfeed compare in influence to endorsements by actual friends? That's the REAL issue that most businesses have to face.

  6. Mark Burrell from Tongal, March 10, 2011 at 1:55 p.m.

    "dollar for dollar it's a lot better spend" said Ashton Kutcher:)

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