Conversion is Key

Having spent the last 24 hours away from Facebook and Twitter in support of a World AIDS Day campaign, I found I had a little extra time on my hands (“Hmmmm” say the productivity police in my head)

Anyway, I spent the extra time watching the campaign that was the reason for my abstinence and trying to put some numbers together on conversion rates and such.

Here’s the basic idea: Alecia Keys and a number of other celebrities (Usher, Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, etc.) swore off twitter (posting pictures of themselves in coffins and declaring themselves digitally dead) until $1 million was raised to support children affected by AIDS in Africa and India.

Whether or not you agree with the idea or support it, what is interesting here is whether or not the campaign worked. These 18 celebrities are among the most popular in the social sphere, sharing their daily thoughts with an average of 1.6 million followers each (on Twitter alone). Their message went out to some 29 million followers, linking them to a Web site to donate money to ‘save’ the digital life of their favorite celeb.

To understand how effective the campaign was, we need to determine whether and how well the business goals were met. Assuming that the goals of this project were: one, To raise awareness, and two, to raise $1 million, how did it perform?

The fact that the message went out to 29 million people on World AIDS Day and generated significant buzz, and that the destination Web site, buylife.org was brought to its knees, overloaded with traffic for much of the day, indicates that goal #1 was probably achieved. Awareness was raised.

As of 9am on December 2nd, however, the campaign has raised a paltry $160,000, which at $10 a pop translates to donations (conversion) from only 16,000 followers. This implies a conversion rate of just o.o5% – see chart below. That seems low to me. To raise $1 million, the campaign would need conversion of 3.4%.

Celebrity Twitter Followers
Alicia Keys 2,690,910
Usher 922,927
The Buried Life 99,841
Swizz Beatz 366,794
Serena Williams 1,846,393
Ryan Seacrest 3,683,704
Lady Gaga 7,240,217
Kimberly Cole 1,267,934
Kim Kardashian 5,467,082
Khloe Kardashian 2,068,681
David Lachapelle 5,669
Justin Timberlake 3,534,574
Jennifer Hudson 66,523
Jay Sean 339,979
Janelle Monae 129,431
Elijah Wood 7,542
Daphne Guiness 921
Bronson Pelletier 13,045
Total Followers 29,752,167
Average Followers 1,652,898
Conversion Rate 0.05%

The math may be a little fuzzy (many of these celebs are followed by the same people, we did not include Facebook followers at all, and we assumed no-one donated more than the minimum $10). However, no matter how you look at it, there are millions and millions of celebrity-obsessed followers who showed a lot of interest in the campaign by visiting its site, but when it came time to pony up, fell somewhat short of expectations. Why did this happen?

I can think of two reasons. The first is that the Web site was key to conversion, since all cues to donate were housed on the (very well-designed user-friendly) site. So much so that when it went down these celebs broke their silence to let followers know how to donate via text. There may have been some missed opportunity while the site was down.

The second reason was that there was a stirring among commentators to the effect that $1 million was small change for this group. “Why don’t they just make the donation?” they asked. It may be that followers felt duped into spending money when they saw no reciprocation from their celebrity favorites in the form of matching or outright donations.

I realize that the goal of social media campaigns is not all about direct conversion. However, when conversion is a stated goal (which it had to have been in this case), what level is considered typical for a campaign of this size? What do you think happened here? What can we learn from this about social media and conversion in general? My take: Just because a business, celebrity or organization has millions of followers does not guarantee conversion.

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2 Responses to Conversion is Key

  1. This Article Very Nice , Thank You for Sharing the Information , Thanks

  2. John Bothma says:

    Hi Linds
    Most interesting particularly since I am new to this field of Web marketing having been coerced into it by your successor and nephew.

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