News / AOL Blog

Reaching a Million People One Tweet at a Time

Apr 17, 2012

When we had the opportunity to rekindle our relationship with TOMS to help celebrate this year's One Day Without Shoes, we spent a lot of time of trying to think of the right way to extend our relationship. In 2011, we had over 1,000 employees all around the world kick off their shoes to raise awareness for children who don't have them.

At first, we considered the idea of doing something twice as big. And then ten times as big. And then 100 times as big, arriving at the number: 100,000. We decided interacting with 100,000 people to tell them about the One Day Without Shoes message would be the number that we would rally our employees and customers around. But how do you count people "we told about something"? It's relatively easy in social media to measure likes, followers, comments, and retweets by using some basic social media analysis tools - but what we were doing was something a little bit different. Each one of these social actions would contribute to the number of people we "told about something", and our goal was really just to reach people with the message.

We then turned to our friends at Simply Measured, and took a look at what reports they had available to help us and found that they were able to measure "Reach", a calculation that measured the potential audience size for our tweets (i.e. how many people may have seen our message through Tweets made by ourselves and others sharing the campaign). Reaching people through Tweets was something we do every day, but previously we'd been unable to quickly and effectively measure this on a campaign basis. Simply Measured has been a great partner to work with, and have even shared a bit more about the methodology used to measure our metrics in a case study on their blog.

The end result was a set of tactics that included ways for all sorts of different users, across a few different platforms, to help incite people to join the movement:

  • We donated a TOMS One Day Without Shoes mail sign in page that ran from April 7th to April 9th. The sign in page reaches an average of 10 million impressions a day**
  • Our team encouraged consumers to change their profile pages to help raise awareness and blogged about the event.
  • AOL Advertising offered up a Style Your Sole party to the agency who was able to best evangelize their employees to share the word.
  • MapQuest donated advertising space on top of every map today to raise awareness about the campaign.
  • AOL Artists around the world are pledging to go barefoot with AOL as well. Check out AOL Artists' Tumblr for updates on which artists are going barefoot and to see them in action.
  • We shared the campaign in taxicab spots that ran in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles and Boston (check out the video below).

All of these calls to action had a social component that would allow users to take an action, and then easily share what they were doing.

We launched our campaign on March 18th, with an initial goal of reaching 100,000 people by April 10th - the day of One Day Without Shoes. That day, we were lucky enough to have TOMS Chief Shoe Giver Blake Mycoskie join us to tell the story of TOMS and One Day Without Shoes. After the event, we started to invite our employees to contribute tweets about the topic, and offered a few tweets from our AOL Twitter account, and to our surprise, we were over our 100,000 reached goal in less than 18 hours. In the tradition of thinking big, we decided to reset our goal to one million. Sure enough, by the end of the campaign, we had some stats to be proud of that we want to share. In total, we reached:

  • A potential audience of more than 1.2 million people on Twitter
  • Around 20,000 people through, where more than 600 people changed their profile to a special TOMS background. (read more about their success)**
  • Millions through the TOMS messaging on MapQuest and on AOL Mail.**
  • Nearly 200,000 people who visited the TOMS page on AOL Impact**
  • Hundreds of employees took part in events all across our offices and shared the news via Twitter

It was great to see so many people respond positively to our campaign and us to learn a lot more about how social content can spread.

Reflecting on AOL's contribution, Blake added, "Because of AOL's continued support of One Day Without Shoes, we were able to make an impact. Through this year's partnership, we built a program with highly measurable results. We can't thank enough everyone that participated, and because of your contributions, we were able to bring so much more awareness to our cause."

We hope you were able to take part in TOMS One Day Without Shoes and if not this year, then mark your calendar for next year! Learn more about the TOMS One for One movement at

(Photo by Eileen O'Brien)

** Internal AOL Data