New Ogilvy-ChatThreads 2011 Study Preview: Exposure to Social Media Associated With Sales Increase

Can social media drive sales? One recent study found that about a quarter of social network users report having had their purchases influenced by social media.  On the other hand, another recent study found that direct clicks from social media sites didn’t generate notable sales.  But this type of click study doesn’t really capture the full extent of media influence on consumer behavior.

To take a more comprehensive look at the impact of social media, we tracked a sample group of Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) consumers’ exposure to a variety of brand ‘touchpoints” and obtained pre- and post-tracking data on purchase.

What we found

According to results we are previewing from this new Ogilvy-ChatThreads study entitled Integrated Social Media Sales Impact, there is a strong link between an increase in sales and exposure to social media.

In fact, we found that in the real world, social media exposure – by itself and more broadly when combined with other types of media exposure such as out-of-home, PR or TV ads – is linked with 2-7x higher likelihood of consumption and actual spend increases for some QSR brands.

Specifically, here are some key results, summarized in the diagram and below:


Social media only exposure: 7x greater likelihood of higher spend (observed for KFC)

Social media PLUS billboard ads (out of home): Approximately 2x greater likelihood of higher spend or consumption (observed for the entire QSR category in aggregate)

Social media PLUS TV ads: 2x greater likelihood of higher consumption (observed for Wendy’s)

People exposed to social media PLUS news stories or editorials spent 17% more week-over-week (observed for the QSR category)

Interestingly, out of over 60 media interactions studied, social media and social media interactions were associated with some of the highest sales impact of any media. We tracked over 20 touchpoints, including TV, print, out-of-home, social media, news/editorial (PR) and radio.

Download a higher resolution PDF summary slide or see the full preview presentation from our Advertising Research Foundation at our slideshare site We will be releasing the full study in July 2011.


The study recruited 404 individuals to use the ChatThreads BrandEncounter platform in reporting their real-time exposure to 21 different brand touchpoints across five QSR brands: KFC, McDonalds, Subway, Taco Bell and Wendy’s.  The study ran in 2 segments between 1/20/11 and 5/6/11.  A total of 5,623 touchpoints were reported by participating consumers.  Participants were pre-screened for QSR favorability and social media activity within the past week.  Shift in consumption and spend (not absolute levels of consumption and spend) were evaluated to minimize any issues related to pre-existing associations between social network use and consumption and spend amount.

(cross-posted at

Published by

Irfan Kamal

VP, Digital Strategy