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How AOL and TOMS Shoes Used Social Media Analytics for Social Good

How AOL and TOMS Shoes Used Social Media Analytics for Social Good Adam Schoenfeld Blogger Extraordinaire Simply Measured

On April 10th thousands of people around the world ditched their footwear for TOMS Shoes annual “One Day Without Shoes;” a campaign aimed at showing the impact a pair of shoes can have on a child’s life. It is heavily rooted in social media – supporters share experiences by Tweeting the #withoutshoes hashtag. AOL, a Simply Measured customer, partnered with TOMS to build online momentum leading up to 4/10. For us data geeks, AOL’s use of social media analytics was particularly interesting – both as a rally call for consumers and a as way to message results internally and externally. Looking at the data from these efforts serves as great case study for measuring and communicating social media analytics.

Using Social Media Metrics as a Rally Call

AOL created excitement around a social media metric – reach – asking consumers to help distribute the #withoutshoes messages to over 1,000,000 people before April 10th. By reporting reach each day of the campaign, AOL set a collective goal and communicated the impact to participants.

At Simply Measured, we tend to think about social media programs like a megaphone. You put content in and when things work well, your messages get amplified. In this instance, AOL aligned their campaign goals around this amplification in a way that compelled consumers. This same type of approach could also be used to align internal stakeholders with your programs and campaigns.

AOL’s Impact on #WithoutShoes

We already know that AOL’s promotion of #withoutshoes had a potential reach of more than 1M people. What was the broader impact of this effort to build momentum? Tracking AOL’s mentions within the overall conversation gives us this data in context. In the following chart, we can see that AOL was a significant and consistent driver of activity, accounting for an impressive 15% of all #withoutshoes tweets.

The Big Day: How It Played Out on April 10th

We already saw AOL’s impact in building momentum, but we also wanted to know how this campaign played out on the big day. When we look at the hashtag activity (and amplification) we get an overview of the results and the bigger picture view of campaign performance.

Specifically when we breakdown the data hour by hour on 4/10, we see the support building throughout the day and then sustaining with a large spike in to the evening.

Drilling down, we can also see how the campaign drew in major celebrities, media, and influencers along with international support.

Looking at specific content, we can quickly see the most ReTweeted messages. This gives us a sense for which conversations were the most popular and which participants had the biggest impact, amplifying the campaign. By the looks of it, TOMS and AOL will want to engage Miley Cyrus in this campaign again next year!


AOL’s efforts for One Day Without Shoes provides a good example of how analytics can be leveraged to support and communicate successful social media campaigns. Not only was measurement important to show the impact of this campaign, but it had a unique role in driving consumer participation. Through this effort AOL exceeded their goals, drove momentum for a relevant cause, and clearly communicated results to stakeholders at the conclusion.

Why AOL Chose Simply Measured?

In the words of AOL’s Social Media Director, Matthew Knell:

“For the first time, AOL was able to measure the real-time potential audience for our social campaign activity using Simply Measured. Their easy to understand reporting allowed us to understand how our message was being spread and to optimize our tactics to ensure we reached (and ultimately succeed) our goal of 1,000,000 people. The data Simply Measured provided was simply impossible for us to know otherwise, and allowed us to stay true to our original goal of sharing the TOMS One Day Without Shoes message.”

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Adam Schoenfeld

Adam is the Co-Founder and VP of Strategy at Simply Measured. In 2010 (aka the dark ages of social marketing), Adam joined Damon Cortesi and Aviel Ginzburg to found "Untitled Startup, Inc" with the goal of helping marketers and analysts use social data to do their best work. The company quickly evolved to become Simply Measured and the trusted leader in social analytics. Outside of Simply Measured, Adam is a golfer, breakfast enthusiast, and long-time data geek.

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