Are social tactics meaningful sales drivers? Thoughts on recent Forrester Research report

Was fascinated to read a summary of Forrester’s recent research into social media and online retail transactions. It found 39% of online retail transactions by new customers started with clicks from paid or organic search results and fewer than 1% come from social channels. Apparently 48% of consumers reported that social media posts are a great way to discover new products, brands, trends, or retailers, but fewer than 1% of transactions could be traced back to trackable social links.

It’s important to think about all social media activities from a business perspective; without a clear objective there is usually no point investing time and energy. But social media is, by its nature, social — so trying to use social purely as a transaction driver risks being antisocial.

A few thoughts on this:

  • Social media activities should, where possible, be better integrated with tracking to help trace transaction origins and customer purchase journeys
  • Not all social media activities are designed to drive transactions — e.g. brand advocacy, awareness raising, community building, crisis response, customer service, reviews drivers etc
  • If we accept that purchase journeys are less linear these days then maybe we need to provide more transaction options e.g. F-commerce, so consumers can buy within shared rather than owned environments

Clearly search and email marketing are incredibly important sales drivers but I don’t think it’s right to apply the same expectations to social media just yet.

The report serves as a good reminder also of why it’s so important to deliver outcomes rather than just noise through social — we need to stay focused on delivering business results, whatever those might be.

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