Only 1% of orders on shopping sites came from people who visited a social network immediately before.
Online sales on Black Friday hit another record this year. Social media only played a relatively small role — at least when measured directly, according to the latest data from IBM.
IBM found that just about 1% of purchases and traffic on ecommerce websites for Black Friday and the week as a whole were directly generated by social media sites. To put that another way, only 1% of orders on shopping sites came from people who visited a social network immediately before. That number, which is based on IBM tracking transactions across 800 U.S. retail websites, didn’t improve much from the previous year.
“I would essentially describe it as being flat year-over-year, no dramatic change,” Jay Henderson, strategy director at IBM Smarter Commerce, told Mashable in a recent interview. While these findings may frustrate some marketers who poured resources into social media
campaigns, Henderson is quick to note that social networks do have a “huge indirect influence” on shopping decisions by building brand and product awareness social networks do have a “huge indirect influence” on shopping decisions by building brand and product awareness.
“Social doesn’t have the ability so far to drive traffic or sales directly to the site,” he says. “It tends to have more of an indirect influence on purchases.”
Shoppers may not go straight from seeing a product onFacebook or Pinterest to buying it on an ecommerce site, but rather stop off at a few other websites in between before finally making a purchase. The trick is figuring out how to measure how much influence engaging with a product or brand originally on one of those social networks had in the eventual purchase.
Adobe Digital Index, for example, found that there were more conversations on social media about “Black Friday” than ”Thanksgiving Day.” Amazon was the most referenced retailer for the two-day period with 450,000 posts, followed by Walmart with 300,000 posts.
Socialbakers, a service that tracks social media analytics, found that ShoeDazzle and Macy’s had the most brand interactions on Facebook on Black Friday while Walmart attracted the most new Facebook fans.
While this data shows brand awareness on social media during the peak shopping week, it doesn’t prove that these mobile and Internet-powered mentions resulted in any direct sales.
IBM tried to address this by analyzing the indirect influence on holiday shopping orders from two of the biggest social networks, Facebook and Pinterest. Shoppers referred from Facebook were found to have an average order value of $52.10, while shoppers referred from Pinterest had a much higher average order value of $92.51. Facebook, however, was found to convert sales at nearly four times the rate of Pinterest, which Henderson credits to Facebook having more sophisticated ad tools.
IBM hopes to capture the connection between someone browsing shirts on Pinterest and then buying some of those shirts later in the day. It’s not an exact science — some other material could have influenced that person in the interim — but it’s at least a start.
“Our ability to attribute success to the influence of social media will improve over time,” Henderson says. “As long as you can show the influence that social media is having on the eventual purchase, that should be more than enough too justify the investment that marketers are making in those channels.”
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