Can’t Buy Me Love

This July, the upscale grocer Whole Foods ran a promotional contest designed to increase its Twitter followers to a million. The contest is over, but here is a summary. The promotion gained (social) media attention – it was cheap, ambitious, and apparently successful. The winner, the millionth follower, and ten runner ups would each receive a million grains of quinoa (about 5 pounds) and a $50 Whole Foods gift card. Whole Foods did in fact reach a million followers on July 14 (just a coincidence that was Bastille Day, you decide).

In little more than a month at a cost of less than $600, Whole Foods gained a quarter of a million followers. This works out to be a cost per acquisition of less than a quarter of a cent per follower. On volume alone, this would seem to be a most impressive promotion.

As of this post, Whole Foods had 1.17 million followers. This the largest following of any consumer business, though less than that of media organizations such as the New York Times and NPR or of current Twitter king Ashton Kutcher.

Whole Foods Twitter Followers

Whole Foods Twitter Followers

How much of an effect did the promotion have in gaining followers? If we look at the growth in Whole Foods followers, before, during and after and during the promotion, we see uniform growth. That is, there is no indication from these data that the promotion had any effect.

Growth In Total Twitter Users

Growth In Total Twitter Users

Indeed, data from ComScore indicate that the rate of growth of followers for Whole Foods is no higher than of Twitter users as a whole during comparable periods (see the shaded region in the chart above). It would seem that a rising tweet lifts all boats.

Anyone have a good recipe calling for five pounds of quinoa?