The value of social media marketing can be difficult to quantify since a major component of its strength is word-of-mouth advertising, and many businesses face mixed results when engaging in social media campaigns. However, social networking can be a powerful engagement tool and strong supplement to ecommerce hosting solutions. Recent research also suggests that it could lead to more sales.
The research came as a result of a partnership between Compete and Twitter. Among the trends revealed by the data, analysts found that Twitter users were more likely to visit online retail sites than the general internet-using public. Compete found a 5 percent difference between the two groups, and uncovered a similar disparity in the likelihood of buying. Although 27 percent of general internet users made an online purchase during the study, the number rose to 33 percent when looking at those actively on Twitter.
"People who see a retailer's Tweets are even more likely to make an online retail purchase than they are to visit retailer websites," Taylor Schreiner, Twitter's co-head of ad research, wrote in a blog post. "This means Twitter users arrive on a retail website with a higher intent to buy. Make it easy for them. Include links in Tweets that streamline the path to purchase and special offers that incentivize taking action."
The study also revealed that the "more is better" paradigm holds true for tweets. Users who were expose to company tweets for 12 or more days were 32 percent more likely to visit a branded website and make purchases. However, Schreiner also warned that quality matters. Brands can make the biggest difference by tweeting timely messages that are particularly relevant to the organizations audience. It may take some experimentation to determine the best type of content and the ideal frequency of posts, but businesses that optimize their social media strategies accordingly are likely to gain significant returns.
Staying relevant on Twitter
One of the challenges many companies face using social media is that it represents a new form of marketing that is heavily reliant on current events and discussions. According to Mike Mikho, head of development at social media agency Big Fuel, a large number of brands simply add their social network links to existing advertising campaigns in an effort to increase traffic. Consumers may see these initiatives as forced, diminishing the value of producing content on social media in the first place. Mikho suggested that companies pay more attention to what is going on in their regions. Even if an event is not directly linked to a product or service, taking part in large social conversations can raise brand awareness and drive traffic back to the website.