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Value of social media marketing questioned in report

03 May 2011 - 08:49 by

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A study of how retailers use social media and the response of consumers to marketing on popular networks has concluded that it may not be as valuable a tool for encouraging safe shopping online as previously thought.

Analysts at GSI Commerce and Forrester Research, found that in the last two months of 2010 only two per cent of e-commerce sales could be attributed to links and campaigns run on social media platforms.

For short term offers things are slightly more positive, with around seven per cent of minor sales being made via social networking sites.

The research found that for the time being, the most effective ways for retailers to get through to consumers were still via email and search related advertising, which puts a dampener on the potential impact of social media as a marketing tool.

One thing which has been consistent about the reactions to the report is that, according to the Telegraph, it potentially shows that retailers and marketing firms do not quite grasp the way in which consumers use the likes of Facebook and Twitter.

It is argued that consumers generally click on links to safe shopping online or visit specific sites as a result of advice from their friends and associates. This means they are sourcing their consumer advice from those they know and not directly from ads and other social media campaigns which are specifically targeted to generate interest.

Many are urging caution in relation to this research, suggesting that while social media campaigns may not be directly relatable to sales, the creation of long lasting relationships with customers via such networks is valuable in the long term and has its own benefits, so should not be dismissed out of hand.

Whatever the interpretations and implications of the report, there is no doubt that social media marketing is going to be an enduring feature of online life.