132 Social Media Case Studies – Successes and Failures

In a recent comment to one of our blog posts, one of our readers wrote that „Social Media is Bullshit.” Social Media would be good for brand and engagement and terrible for conversion. Social Media would not make you money, and if you need sales, you should pick up the phone and make calls.

That is such a short-sighted and limiting point of view.

Social Media Marketing is not sales – but it can help to sell things. And personally, I have to admit that I have several times bought something, booked an event or took part in something because I saw people (friends and acquaintances OR strangers) talking about it on social media. At the same time, I have never bought anything a salesperson tried to sell me on the phone. So yes, you actually can sell me things on Social Media. And I am not the only person.

But limiting Social Media Marketing success or failure to the statement: For sales, you need to pick up the phone is simply b%llshi$t. You can use social media for lead generation to fill your sales funnel – but you can also use Social Media for totally different aspects of business like customer management, brand awareness, reputation management, audience building, website traffic and many other things your business can profit from.

Many people do it. I do it and have done so for other projects in the past. The honest answer to “Social Media is not working” is: It is obviously not working the way you are doing it. Try different tactics, learn, adjust, measure, optimize, try something else, try harder, and never stop at “You cannot sell on Social Media!”

So the answer is, yes you can make money with Social Media, but it is not working the same way for each and every business or situation. Most of the time, if you do not have success with getting ROI out of your Social Media activities, it is not Social Media, which is not working, it is you who are doing something wrong or have the wrong social media strategy. And to be honest, I am sure everyone, who is successful in getting ROI out of Social Media, has had the cases where something they tried did not work out as they anticipated and they needed to try different approaches until they figured out the right way for their goals and their audience.

Social Media cannot simply be done by following a recipe step by step. That can only get you so far. In Social Media often the best approaches are already cold coffee when they become common knowledge, and everyone tries to hop on the train. You need to make assumptions, test your assumption, measure success and adjust your marketing strategy according to your results. Social media cannot be learned by the book.

But one thing is certain: To shout out sales messages in Social Media is most likely going to fail to give you any return.

What people want and expect from their Social Media activity is so diverse, and there are many Social Media case studies in multiple situations. Instead of selecting a handful of case studies for this article, I decided to provide you with a list of resources with multiple case studies about how businesses are successfully using social media for their business success.

1. 15 B2B Case Studies for Proving Social Media ROI

Rob Petersen looks at the special situation of using social media platforms to market to businesses instead of consumers. He provides 15 examples ranging from CISCO and Demand Base to LinkedIn and SAP.

2. 50 Social Media Case Studies you Should Bookmark

SimplyZesty looks at a variety of use cases for the different social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Pinterest, Instagram and more.

3. IBM Turns its Sales Staff Social Media Savvy

I love this example as it shows how sales and Social Media Marketing can work hand in hand. Contrary to the above-mentioned comment on our blog, IBM realized that even sales can profit from Social Media with cost-effective leads.

4. 11 Examples of Killer B2B Content Marketing Campaigns Including ROI

Lee Odden of TopRank Marketing focuses more on the Content Marketing side and provides 11 B2B Content Marketing case studies.

5. B2B Social Media Case Study: How I made $47 million from my B2B blog

This is a personal success story from AT&T’s experience and success with a content strategy.

6. How ASOS Use Social Media [CASE STUDY]

The story of how the fashion and beauty store ASOS has become Britain’s largest online retailer with the aid of Social Media for ecommerce and online marketing.

7. 5 Outstanding Social Media Campaigns

The examples include the story from a hairdresser who increased sales by 400% without spending a penny. It is not only the big companies who can profit from Social Media.

8. 3 Small Businesses That Found Social Media Success

The examples range from customer service, brand perception to social engagement.

9. The Best Social Media Campaigns of 2014Looking for Social Media Case Studies? We were too - and we found awesome social media case studies showcasing amazing success - and ...

These marketing campaigns are more about creating more engagement, generate more fans and increase loyalty amongst audience members for the brand and not so much about direct ROI. Still, they explain how to get it right.

It is not only the social media success stories you can learn from. Sometimes you can learn from other peoples’ failures at least as much as from their successes. Here are some social media case studies on failed social media activities. The failures tend to be on a smaller scale, resulting from bad communication and reactions turning the Social Media conversation in an unwanted direction. It is rare that a company admits to a complete campaign and a ton of money gone down the drain. Still, even from these smaller examples, we all can learn our lessons for our behavior in Social Media:

1. Social Media Fails: The Worst Case Studies of 2012

The examples are campaign focused and include examples from McDonald’s and Toyota.

2. 19 horrific social media fails from the first half of 2014

These are examples of how you should not communicate in Social Media and showcase some ways you should not copy on how to jump onto trending hashtags and events in Social Media.

3. 5 Big Social Media Fails of 2013 (and What We Learned)

Some examples of Social Media failures resulting from Bad Judgment, Bad Execution, Bad Strategy, and Bad Luck and the lessons marketers can learn from them.

4. Top 12 Social Media Marketing Mishaps

These are examples of what can happen to you and how a social media Sh$tstorm can brew up. It makes sense to read some of these and talk about possible reactions before any of this kind happens to you. Simply be prepared.

Final Words

I hope you find some useful marketing tips in my little collection of Social Media case studies – or at least, have some fun browsing through these examples. I find them encouraging as they show the variety of cases where Social Media can help your business. And they show how many humans are in Social Media, making it a place where things can go wrong and go well. It is up to you to leverage the full power of social networks and turn the tide.

If you are looking for even more case studies here you go:

Digital Marketing Case Studies

Content Marketing Case Studies

Instagram Marketing Case Studies

Twitter Marketing Case Studies

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Looking for Social Media Case Studies? We were too - and we found awesome social media case studies showcasing amazing success - and some epic failures! social media gone wrong case studies, social media marketing case study