How Sony Pictures Measure the Impact of Social Media on Sales

Social media continues to grow and evolve bringing powerful new opportunities for brands to engage directly with consumers. However, as Facebook celebrates its tenth birthday, the use of social media for brand awareness and promotion is still relatively immature. At the same time, businesses are continuing to seek clarity on how to focus their time and budgets effectively in this space.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (Sony) is one such brand that has been keen to explore the potential of social media to engage its audiences. In particular, they wanted to understand and quantify the impact of social media activities on their DVD and Blu-ray sales and analyse how ans where to effectively engage with consumers and influencers to maximise this impact. Some of the questions the Sony team have been looking to answer are: Should we spend any money on social media? How should we split our marketing spend across traditional and digital channels? How can we use social most effectively to drive incremental sales?

John Biggin, Publicity, Promotions and Media Manager at Sony says “The media landscape is becoming increasingly diverse. There is a proliferation of new touch points to reach our consumers, and that means we have to make a lot of decisions about where we put our marketing investment. Where once on the traditional model you would try and market to your consumers, we now have to think about how we can market with them”.

In 2013, Sony turned to the science of big data and analytics to inform its social media strategy. We used econometric modelling techniques to develop a predictive tool that could combine insight from historic data to forthcoming titles. Data across 400 recent Sony and competitor titles was used to measure and forecast the sales impact of social media and other marketing levers for new releases. This enabled Sony to focus its attention on those platforms and activities that generated the greatest traction, both above-the-line and in the social media space.

There are some clear trends emerging from this set of data, for example: we know that increasing Twitter activity for an action title will generate twice the sales impact as for a comedy, whilst Facebook is most likely to influence sales for children’s titles.

Sony is now using the findings to inform decisions on how and when it might be able to engage with audiences more effectively. For example, the team re-focused budget and activity timing according to the tool analysis for Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, establishing key activities on Twitter such as the tweet-a-long and bringing a portion of spend forward. It has also allowed Sony to be more agile and to react to things happening in the social media space in real time. On one occasion, Sony was even able to involve one of the Django Unchained stars in the campaign by tapping into his relevant tweets. As a result, the team successfully influenced online conversation, lifting positive word of mouth.

By understanding which activities, content, and influencers are instrumental in driving successes, the team are able to carry forward lessons learned to future campaigns, to further refine content and partnership decisions, and implement a continuous cycle of test and learn.

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