There's plenty of talk about ROI in the social marketing realm but fewer actual results. With that reality in mind, JetBlue Airways is offering some metrics worth noting.

The airline is reporting a "social marketing transformation" that saw a 140 percent return on investment using the Salesforce Relevant Products/Services marketing cloud Relevant Products/Services, according to a case study report from Nucleus Research. JetBlue standardized its social marketing on Salesforce's Buddy Media, a social publishing application, to increase productivity. The results: reduced marketing costs and better visibility.

"JetBlue prides itself on reaching both business Relevant Products/Services and recreational travelers in unique ways," said Sean Williams, analyst of consumer promotions at JetBlue. "By using Buddy Media for all of our social promotions, we've increased productivity and seen direct cost savings."

Creating Customer-Centric Products

JetBlue reports more efficient management of creative services as part of its success story. The airline said Buddy Media allows it to focus agency investment on more strategic activities and spend less on routine campaign development and execution fees. On the productivity front, Buddy Media makes it easier for the JetBlue team to track and analyze the successes and impacts of different promotions, as well as schedule execution times for various phases of a campaign, saving valuable time.

Meanwhile, Buddy Media analytics Relevant Products/Services allow the JetBlue promotions team to understand the reach, volume and impact of a campaign, and how it aligns with demographic and psychographic profiles of the audience. And standardizing on Buddy Media drives brand consistency and the ability to activate campaigns based on the real-time Relevant Products/Services nature of social media and specific events.

The Nucleus Research report pointed to one particular campaign JetBlue executed with Buddy Media -- the "Think Up" campaign. The company asked users to submit ideas for a new JetBlue iPad app on Facebook. The ideas submitted are now under review by the JetBlue team and will result in a customer Relevant Products/Services-centric final product.

Just One Negative Tweet

Brad Shimmin, a principal analyst at Current Analysis, is not surprised by the success. He reminds us that Buddy Media was a market success in the social space before Salesforce acquired the company -- and aligns well with its objective.

"Social marketing is more than important -- it's an imperative," Shimmin said. "Any company that has any sort of constituency cannot ignore social media. Companies must take steps to both monitor Relevant Products/Services and preserve their brand as it's represented on social media and seek ways to maximize the value that can be derived from social media."

Shimmin called social marketing invaluable as a disintermediator that allows customers to literally feel as though they are directly in touch with their favorite brands.

"JetBlue relies so much on the trust that they engender with their customers, so social media is very important," Shimmin said. "Simply think about what harm can come from disgruntled customers who have had one too many delays though Chicago on JetBlue. It just takes one negative tweet to influence potential or current customers."