Last week, Priya Ramesh, CRT/tanaka‘s director of social media, joined us for the bi-weekly #measurePR chat.

This was not just because I’ve known Priya for a while and long admired her smarts and tenacity.

But because as we’ve been getting deeper and deeper into the chat, participants – you – started asking for case studies.

Theory is all very well, they (you) said.

What about real-life examples?

So Priya joined us to talk about the Council for Responsible Nutrition‘s “Life… supplemented™” campaign, and explained how they not only used social media, but measured the results.

She talked, er, chatted us through how this worked.

Having seen through a social media audit that there was an “absence of online chatter” on the “responsible use of vitamins,”

They identified six active social media users in the health/wellness sphere as these “key influentials,” and named them social media advisers to help them take their message online.

Priya took us through the strategy and tactics of the campaign, which relied heavily on these “influentials” to generate online visibility for the campaign, and by providing interactive content online for people to “play with.”

One of the major elements of the campaigns was to get consumers to fill out an online interactive wellness scorecard.

Priya was pretty clear about the fact that CRT/tanaka worked closely with CRN to identify and work towards awareness, and not financial goals, in this phase of the campaign.

The results?

A 236% increase in media mentions in 2009 over the previous two years combined;

A total of 37,316 My Wellness ScoreCard completes, which were a 130% increase over the previous year;

and

A 72% increase in web traffic over the previous year with 207,048 web visitors.

You can read the entire transcript of the #measurePR chat with Priya, if you’d like. It’s pretty good.

After the chat, I asked Priya some more questions. Read on.

What did you ask the SM advisory board to do?

The SMAB were health and wellness experts so their motivation to guide CRN’s social media efforts was high.

Each of them provided feedback on the launch plan, and ideas on how best to increase engagement. They also helped promote the Life… supplemented™ awareness campaign by blogging, tweeting, and giving shoutouts at industry events.

Were they paid?

NO.

Did they understand/use full disclosure, whether paid or not?

Yes. They fully disclosed their participation in our campaign as our SMAB. I want to emphasize the fact that CRN’s selection process for the SMAB was very carefully done to bring in credible voices who are very familiar with the FTC guidelines.

None of them were asked to do any product endorsements. They only helped us by taking our key messages online.

Did the question of “ROI” ever come up when you were discussing the strategy with the client? If so, how did you address it?

Of course. ROI is the #1 question and CRT/tanaka was very particular about setting the right expectations from social media [during this ] year-1 engagement.

We helped CRN understand that the first phase is all about creating awareness, so we [would] be gauging increases in website traffic, My Wellness Scorecard participation and [their] Facebook/Twitter following.

There were no promise of sales via social media in Year 1.

You talked about sales being the goal through SM in Year 2. Sales of what? How will you measure these… through specific links, etc.? How will they change their landing page/site to optimize conversions?

The ultimate goal is to increase the responsible use of vitamins and supplements. So, yes, tying social media back to increase in sales of vitamins/supplements will be a KPI for Year 2.

We currently maintain a rich database of scorecard participants and we plan to engage them through email newsletters that provide richer content on how to stay active on the three pillars of health: exercise, diet and supplements.

[We are also] considering changes to the micro-site to track conversions from site to scorecards to email campaigns that hopefully lead to sales.

***

So, you see, social media can be measured… and not by trying to figure out how much your followers are worth.

It’s not so much a question of how fancy the tools are that you’ll use.

It’s more about setting goals and working towards outcomes, and figuring out which channels you’re going to use to do that.

It’s about what you’re going to try to get your target audience to do.

Not that difficult, is it?

Title image: Lukasz Strachanowski via Flickr, Creative Commons

Life… supplemented™ data courtesy and used with permission of Priya Ramesh, CRT/tanaka

Shonali Burke
Founder and publisher of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke helps smart businesses make bank by taking their communications from corporate codswallop to community cool™. She is also the founder of The Social PR Virtuoso®, which provides online, on-demand training that helps you unleash your inner Social PR superhero. Shonali is mad about ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis, though not necessarily in that order. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke