How Whole Foods and LiveStrong Measure Twitter’s ROI

Jun 16, 2010 12:45 AM  By

Merchants like to throw out the numbers of followers they have on Twitter, or how many times they tweet per day. But are marketers getting the most out of their tweets?

Marla Erwin, interactive art director for Whole Foods Market, and Doug Ulman, president/CEO of, shared how they measure the ROI of their twitter campaigns yesterday at TWTRCON New York. Here’s what they look for to determine success and effectiveness:

Erwin says Whole Foods knows how many followers it has (1.76 million), but the grocer doesn’t have a firm grasp on the number of valid users – the followers who are most engaged with the Whole Foods brand. The company bases success on how the number of followers rises or falls: If it falls, Erwin says, Whole Foods may not be engaging enough and might need to look closer into its strategy.

Erwin says the biggest measure of Whole Foods’ Twitter success is retweets. If its posts are being retweeted by followers and spreading across the Twittersphere and onto other social media channels, that shows the retailer is being engaging.

“The retweets give us the best value because our most loyal followers are spreading our word,” Erwin said.

LiveStrong measures its ROI by how many followers are taking action when LiveStrong tweets, Ulman said.

During a 48-hour period earlier this spring, Ulman says LiveStrong got 200,000 people to sign an online petition in favor of healthcare reform. Of those signees, 70,000 came to the petition via Twitter.

“Twitter is by far our number-one driver of traffic to our Website,” Ulman said.

And in a time where nonprofits did not do particularly well with their fundraising efforts, Ulman says Twitter helped LiveStrong finish up 16% to 17% in 2009.

Want more TWTRCON coverage? Check out Twitter Tips From TWTRCON and Getting the Gist of Foursquare and Gowalla in The Big Fat Marketing Blog.