A recent IBM report on Black Friday sales figures stated that social media generated only 0.34% of online sales, with Twitter generating an outright 0% of revenue. Shocking headlines aside, what can we actually take away from the statistics?
When you look at them like this, it does look rather bleak – if there were red figures for declines, it would be a bit of a bloodbath.
But this really doesnt tell the full story. When Im on Twitter or Facebook, its rare that I personally click on any sort of promoted Tweet or sponsored story, but thats not to say that it doesnt pique my interest. Often I will then go on Google and search for the promotion, or go directly to the website of the brand to find out more. If I then go on to make a purchase, this wouldnt be attributed to social.
The most interesting part of the report for me referenced the positive mentions that people expressed post purchase; Shoppers expressed positive consumer sentiment on promotions, shipping and convenience as well as the retailers themselves at a three to one ratio.
So how could retailers find the true value that social attributed towards Black Friday?
A simple way would be combine social data with sales data. The chart in the IBM report, is a good start, breaking down over time the sales, but if a brand was able to break this data down and plot social discussions of products alongside it, it would be far more powerful. We would then be able to demonstrate if there were peaks in conversation about specific products and assess if these were driven by social mentions/conversations.
Tracking links through to sales is great, but the reality is that we have to make some assumptions. Brands are willing to pay £110,000 for a 30 second advert slot during the X Factor and use Marketing Mix Modelling to determine the impact on sales that the adverts have had, and social should be treated no differently.
If we are to judge the value of social, then we do need to use methods such as tracking links, but this should be one of a number of measures to make sure that we are accurately reflecting the value of any social activity and that it is comparable with other marketing disciplines.