Analysing the sales reports from Black Friday could suggest that marketing departments may want to consider tightening their purse strings on social media spending. IBM, in particular, released findings that indicate that only about 1% of Black Friday sales can be formally claimed by social media advertising, matching the lacklustre performance of last year. Should social media marketing get the Scrooge treatment, allocating investments to advertising strategies that boast better figures?
To begin, it is important to accurately assess this figure. The 1% refers only to sales that came as a result of direct referrals from social media websites like Twitter and Facebook. A sale is converted only when a consumer clicks an ad seen on social media that goes directly to the sales website of a product or service. Sales that may have come from intervening searching and clicking don’t count. IBM strategy director Jay Henderson commented: “I don’t think the implication is that social isn’t important, but so far it hasn’t proven effective to driving traffic to the site or directly causing people to convert.”
Nevertheless, advertisers continued pouring money into social media after IBM’s release of 2012 Black Friday’s low figures for e-commerce sales driven by social media. They wouldn’t adopt this strategy if they weren’t seeing some ROI, according to All Things D contributor Jason Del Rey. Some advertisers have contracted celebrities and social media stars to tweet about their merchandise. Through re-targeting, social media shoppers receive ads through e-mail or sites like Facebook that are directly related to those clicks.
Another consideration is that social media may have driven more pre–Black Friday e-commerce this year. The IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark showed that online sales on Thanksgiving increased by 9% over the previous year. Early Black Friday deal zeal had Twitter abuzz with fervour fuelled by dedicated social media campaigns.
According to The Guardian’s Danny Bradbury, commenting last week, successful content marketing requires a “multi-channel” approach in which social media figures prominently. Though links on social media may lead to intervening clicks before the conversion, social media sparks the move. It’s also a good way to find out what’s on customers’ Christmas wish list; meaning that social media marketing certainly isn’t humbug.