THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION – Can Social Media Drive Sales?

Sukriti Dutta

Sukriti Dutta

Brand Manager: “My brand is active on social media, the engagement levels are decent on Facebook and our fans seem quite active! Now tell me, CAN SOCIAL MEDIA DRIVE SALES?

Social media can definitely have an impact on sales. However having a presence on social media, seeding 2 posts/tweets a day, may not necessarily cut it if driving sales is the absolute end objective.

Engagement levels, interactions, positive word-of-mouth through influencers are all important for a brand’s online reputation and could also be key objectives. Though at the crux of any promotional spend – lies the Conversion Rate, that is monitored to measure effectiveness. After all, like they say ‘Likes’ won’t add up to the final ROI percentage in the end!

Consumer behaviour is dynamic and purchasing behaviour has started transforming and moving away from traditional buying practices, evident from the sudden increase in numbers of E-Commerce websites.  There is argument that consumers are on social media platforms to network and may not always be interested in brands trying to sell to them. The popularity of Facebook and Twitter contests with prizes of discounts being offered on e-commerce portals and consumers actively participating to win these contests provides empirical evidence of acceptance of brand solicitations in a social networking set up.

According to Comscore and IAMAI Data 2013 India has approximately 25 million online buyers. About 95% of eCommerce users come from social media portals. The second largest source for eCommerce users is search. Other popular sources are entertainment sites, news sites etc.

Some examples of how social media helped brands achieve a measurable impact on their sales:

Dr. Fixit: This is a waterproofing range of products by the Construction Chemicals Division at Pidilite. They launched a campaign to capture leads for RainCoat and NewCoat – a range of waterproofing products for new constructions and repair – a Facebook campaign was run that led to a landing page, where users added their details. They were contacted and an on-ground team was sent to their homes for conducting a repair/sampling service. Over a period of 4 weeks, 500+ leads were captured via Facebook and Twitter. First of it’s kind initiative in the construction chemicals industry.

Kaya Skin Clinic: On their Facebook page, promoted an offer on treatments available at the clinic. Facebook Ads and promoted posts where used to reach out to the audience. The results of this offer and it’s promotion was phenomenal where in footfalls to the clinic to claim the offer increased two fold and it generated revenue of INR 8 Lacs in 6 days!

Allen Solly End of Season Sale: The objective for this campaign was to translate engagement with fans into footfalls and sales at physical stores. A Scratch Card FB application was developed where users could virtually scratch a gift card and avail a discount coupon in their e-mail inbox. To avail the discount they had to visit the store. Results: 4% of the total sales during End of season Sale came from Facebook. There was a 43% conversion rate associated with the activity and 6,000+ consumers were added to the database.

Eristoff Invasion Music Festival: Objective was to increase awareness for the festival and the brand and eventually drive ticket sales. Using their Facebook page, 11,000 tickets were sold. 35% of all ticket buyers were invited to the event by a Facebook friend for the event. 30X ROI on spend on Facebook Ads from sale of tickets. For the Invasion Festival, Facebook drove more ticket buyers than television, radio and outdoor advertising.

Sony proved the power of Twitter with a Twitter campaign, that invited people to purchase their products. They offered over 1,500 Twitter users the chance to build a customised Sony Vaio laptop, as well as offering them a 10% discount. And it worked, as they reported an increase in Sony Vaio sales from Twitter in that period of $1.5 million.

Social media drives sales for a lot of start up businesses too. There are tons of pages on Facebook where people are selling everything from custom made jewellery, apparels, accessories to home decor to cupcakes! These start-ups cater to an audience that is actively socializing. They reach their audience where they are most active. Young crowds love shopping with their friends, comparing purchases and giving reviews. Off late, the number of Facebook Ads have multiplied for promoting several of these online portals.

So, What do you have to do to ensure Social Media can drive sales for your brand?

  1. Active online presence – Make sure you have an active online presence. A consumer has most likely done a lot of research about your brand before walking into one of your stores. Be proactively present in online discussions about your brand, so that no one else is present out there swaying customer opinions.
  2. Engage with your audience – by providing them relevant content and then sell to them, by offering them first priority discounts, new season first looks, extra incentives for being your fans/followers on social media. Tangible and intangible benefits, both work really well!
  3. Customized strategies – Derive customized strategies for different levels of engagement. It is worth spending the time to analyse your audience to find the influencers, the socially active audience, the key customers and devise strategies suited for each category
  4. Build your reputation – Use your satisfied customers to build a positive note about their experience of purchasing you product. Eg: An insurance company allowing prospective customers to connect with existing customers online to seek more information.
  5. Retain your customers: Listen to your customers, before you speak to them. Take advantage of the opportunity social media offers you, unlike other media where you can have a one-to-one conversation with a customer. Keep them happy even after they have made a purchase with you. Whether it is updated information on the product category, or simply asking them if the product is performing well. Keep them engaged! Take their opinions about new launches and hear what they have to say. You might just end up with an insight your marketing team missed out on!
  6. Go All Out! Don’t hesitate to bank on a digital idea and take it to an activation/on-ground level. If the idea can be amplified by starting a portion of it on digital and eventually culminating on an on-ground event. Just go ahead and do it! You’ll be surprised at what can be achieved with the right mix of media.

Social media offers infinite opportunities to engage and interact with a consumer before making a sale. Product fit, communication strategy and timing are key factors in ensuring a successful campaign.

Social media can do most of it. Yes, measuring exact numbers is difficult sometimes but if you see an overall jump in sales, it won’t take you long to attribute it to your social media presence!