November 27, 2012

Social Media Bombs On Black Friday

Despite all the hyperventilating over social media, people with open minds and judicious temperaments are still unconvinced that it has significant impact on commerce.

We know that display advertising on social media sites, notably Facebook, has delivered a whole lot less than promised.

But defenders of social media marketing tell us that it is not the advertising value of social media networks that makes them so magical. It's the content value.

The story goes that the real strength of social media is manifest in the feeds and updates on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Linked In. Here people see marketers' posts and they also see the endorsements and referrals from members of their "community" and are powerfully influenced by them.

It's a lovely little story. Unfortunately, it's all bullshit.

We recently wrote about a report from Forrester Research that stated, "Social tactics are not meaningful sales drivers" and that the effect of social media on online sales was "barely negligible."

Now, a report from IBM that measured the effect of social media on online sales for Black Friday have produced some startling data.

The highlights are these:
  • While online sales on Black Friday increased over 20% from last year, everything IBM measured relating to the effect of social media on these sales dropped.
  • Traffic to online shopping sites from social networks dropped 12% from last year and accounted for eight-tenths of 1% of traffic.
  • Sales at online shopping sites that came as a result of referrals from social media networks dropped by over 35% and accounted for one-third of 1% of sales.
  • Referrals from Facebook to online shopping sites accounted for two-thirds of 1% of traffic. Remarkably, during this same period, Facebook's user base increased 25%. If there's ever been a clear demonstration of the difference between the popularity of social media and the effectiveness of social media marketing, this is it.
  • And get this -- last year referrals from Twitter accounted for two one-hundredths of 1% of online shopping traffic. This year they accounted for 0% of traffic. That's right, zero.
While online media propeller-heads argue about the nuances of these "metrics," to the rest of the world the numbers are so ridiculously small they barely even qualify as rounding error.

The idea that "conversations about brands" on social media networks are a major influence on consumers is one of the great pillars that social media marketing theory is built on. But as we often say here at Ad Contrarian Worldwide Headquarters, nobody's smarter than the facts.

The results from this IBM report should be another nail in the social media marketing coffin.

But, fortunately for the social media lobby, the marketing lemmingocracy has bought very deeply into the social media hype machine. It's too late for them to back out now.

  • Only 0.68% of Black Friday online sales came from Facebook referrals--two-thirds of one percent. That was a decline of 1% from last year.
And how about Twitter?
A couple of years ago, people were excited about Twitter's potential as a commerce platform, too.
But Twitter's impact on ecommerce, it seems, is zero.
Not "basically zero."
  • Commerce site traffic from Twitter accounted for exactly 0.00% of Black Friday traffic. That was down from 0.02% last year.
So much for the idea that Twitter or Facebook's business models are going to have much to do with commerce.

Read more:


Anonymous said...

So called 'social media experts' that waffle on about "conversations about brands" should have invested in FB when it floated. Oh wait - they probably did...

Anonymous said...

Hmm.. Sounds like a lot of 'journeys' that ended up in cul-de-sacs...

Anonymous said...

A social media "guru" told my client last year that he should withdraw ALL of his marketing cash from radio, TV, magazines, outdoor, promotion and give it to him. With the money, he said with a straight face, he would pay his stable of 3,000 stay-at-home mommies to write favorable blogs about the client's product.

Anonymous said...

The post nor the report provides the source(s) of the data. While I'd revel in beating the social media mavens over their talking heads with the report, I need sources!

Paul M said...

In advertising the art of persuasion has little to do with facts. The social media minions are persuaded by their own nemesis which is the play of emotion driven guru speeches and ignoring actual facts.

Jeremy said...

Well, here's a fact : most of brands' posts, endorsement and referrals from members, and "conversations about brands" don't link to online shops. IBM mesured something that doesn't exist... No wonder the numbers are so low..

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't any of the "intelligent" analysis of this IBM study ever point out that the point of Black Friday is to drive people to the store for purchase? If that's the case, then you're upholding online purchase metrics on a day when people aren't supposed to be shopping online as "proof" social media is useless.

I'd expect more thoughtful analysis. C'mon, brotha. Heh.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and there's this:

Geoff said...

The IBM study is measuring the wrong thing.

It's measuring direct purchase from social media: saw the image on pinterst, clicked on it and bought.

That's a bit like measuring the number of people who brought a magazine ad into the store with them and said "gimme this."

Why can't Social Media get the same respect as print media? I'd suggest it's only because one of them is so measurable on a micro level.

This is not a binary decision for most of us: we do print, radio, online, TV, whatever. So the online-vs-traditonal is a stupid argument.

If someone could tell me the % of people who heard my radio spots, I'd be thrilled. But I gotta take it on faith, and BS ratings.

But I'm pretty happy with my virtually free Twitter and Facebook pages.

California Girl said...

I kinda like what Zig Ziglar, RIP, used to say during his lectures.

"You can have everything in
life you want, if you will
just help other people get
what they want. "

This comment has been removed by the author.


If a a social media post can't get a person to move her little finger and click, do you really think it can get her to get off her ass, get in the car, and go to the mall? Puh-leeze.

And second, that puff piece about Samsung in BI is total joke. Not an ounce of data, just the assertion of a Facebook hack. Where's the data? I've looked all over the web for it.

Nick Simard said...

The Black Friday by names it looks like a horrible day. like we call it April 15 the Black Friday for online poker.
Seriously I believe this day is over rated. There is nothing so big about it.

Unknown said...

it is really very informative.
social media management services

Anonymous said...

Interesting study but with a number of issue... Most significantly is that Social Media Marketing is primarily designed to act as a relationship builder and not a direct line of sale. True there are those links that can lead straight to a sale but they are few & far between. Social media is just that, Social. Anyone or any business that attempts too much direct sales will see their following collasp almost immediately.

Thus, if you want to measure the impact of Social Media Marketing, you have to look far beyond what this study covered.

Get Pinterest Followers said...

Nice work dude. thanks for sharing this useful article with us. keep it up.

carbonless forms printing said...

No-doubt social media sites are very important and effective in marketing and advertising on every event.

Web Design Specialist said...

Social media can impact sales and businesses in many ways. And Black Friday shopping is no exception! :)