Social media ‘not driving sales’

The wisdom of brand owners’ stampede into social media has been called into question with the results of a new study which claims it drives just 3 per cent of visits to retail sites.
These days, you can count the number of brands which aren’t using social media on the fingers of one hand but according to ForeSee Results’ Social Media Marketing Report retailers are failing to use the channel effectively.
The company surveyed almost 10,000 visitors to the UK’s top 40 websites (by traffic volume) and asked what the primary influence on their visit to a retailer’s website was. The top result (with 46 per cent) was brand familiarity, followed by search engines (13 per cent). Just 3 per cent said social media influenced their visit, although it claims 1 per cent from blogs could be added to that figure.
But while the figures for satisfaction and likelihood to purchase and recommend were highest for brand familiarity and emails, they were also strong for recommendations from friends on social media and ads on social networks. A total of 62 per cent of visitors said they preferred communications from businesses to be in the form of promotional emails; social media was favoured by only 2 per cent.
As a result the report says retailers should not discard proven online marketing techniques in favour of social media.
However, it does call into question which of the top 40 retail websites in the UK are actually running effective social media campaigns, as many brands are still finding their way.
According to one expert, John Lewis only recently created a Facebook page. With just 21,000 followers (so far), this is unlikely to drive significant volumes of traffic at the moment. By contrast, retailers that have worked hard on their social media marketing can get much more than 3 per cent of traffic from social media.
ASOS has 438,000 ‘friends’ on Facebook, provides regular updates, and now even sells on the site. On Twitter it has 77,000 followers on its official account, but also has separate accounts for discounts and customer service. The company gets 6 per cent traffic.
The full report is available here: http://marketingwhitepapers.s3.amazonaws.com/SocialMediaMarketingReport2010.pdf
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