Social Media Marketing: May not be the silver bullet after all

Here at OSM we’ve noted, with interest, the growing tide in using social media for marketing and just a few of our most recent posts include a look at how a major brand has reversed its spending, where to apply your effort, and most recently how brands are taking a new marketing approach to mobile social networking.

Although most of our looks at social media marketing have been very positive towards its benefits, an article by Stewart Mitchell over on PC Pro, seems to cast some doubt on this and says that social media “is not the marketing silver bullet that analysts would lead us to believe.” Mitchell cites a report from ForeSee Results, which shows that in the U.K. only 3% of visits to online retailers result from Web 2.0 sites. More surprising than that perhaps is the statistic that over 3 times as many visits to web retailers (10%) result from promotional emails while the use of search engines was four times more probable to send visitors to web retailers than Web 2.0 sites.

Ten thousand visitors to forty websites were questioned for the study and the overall picture showed that most people did not want to be ‘friends’ with the online stores that they use. The breakdown of this showed that only a paltry 2% of customers wanted communication with online retailers through social media sites and only 1% through texts, while one in five people expressed that they didn’t want any communication at all. A staggering 60% of customers preferred email as a method of communication.

The outcome of the study led Larry Freed, ForeSee Results CEO, to say, “Serious thought needs to be given to finding out whether social media is worth the investment for their business.” Freed added that if this were the case then attention should be paid to making sure that interaction suited customer expectations or else, “the effort is wasted and could even be detrimental to the business.”

James Perrin of Impact Media sourced from Econsultancy, also reports on the ForeSee Results report and makes the point that the results suggest social media is still in the early stages and that that for now at least retailers shouldn’t be too concerned about using social media marketing. We’d like to know what you think about the results of this report. Does it seem to go against everything we’d already thought about the success of social media marketing or do you think this is a truer picture? Why not send us your comments to let us know.

  • Nancy Kenney

    Does the report include retailers with "Shops" on the Facebook pages – pages that are actually selling products? If so, then those numbers are worth looking at because on-line retail is a big number for some businesses.

  • http://www.butterknife-marketing.com Avi Kaye

    The research talks about several different points here, and I'm not sure how or why they are related.

    For example:
    "only a paltry 2% of customers wanted communication with online retailers through social media sites and only 1% through texts, while one in five people expressed that they didn’t want any communication at all. A staggering 60% of customers preferred email as a method of communication."

    So what? The fact that they don't want to COMMUNICATE to the site via friending, liking, tweeting, etc., but just by email, doesn't mean they didn't FIND the site through social media.

    And – "while the use of search engines was four times more probable to send visitors to web retailers than Web 2.0 sites" – doesn't the person who conducted the research know how Google works? The search results are directly affected by social media, social profiles, social mentions, and so on.

    And the headline for the article says something else entirely – social media CONTACT turns shoppers off. In short – you need to market your brand/company/name. The tools you do it with are just that – tools. They can be social media, google adwords, billboards or in the paper. To stay in CONTACT with your users – that's another story.