If you run a website or blog, you can’t help but run into the suggestion – or mandate – to incorporate social media into your business. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn…millions upon millions of internet users log onto these sites every day, and spend as much as several hours perusing them. But does social media really deliver in terms of driving traffic or converting that traffic to sales?
ForeSee Results compiled its Social Media Marketing Report by surveying about 100,000 visitors to the top 40 websites in the UK. The objective was to find out what led the visitors to the specific sites. Forty-six percent of respondents said that brand familiarity was their primary reason for visiting a site. Search engines led 13 percent to their sites. So, how many were driven via the social media train? About three percent, and another one percent from blogs.
These figures certainly seem to contradict the ubiquitous advice that all businesses need to be focusing attention specifically on social media strategies – but do they really? It can be countered that there is more than one route to a business site. For example, a consumer may see a product that piques his interest on Facebook. He then uses a search engine to find the specific vendor or business. In this way, social media has played a very important role, but one that isn’t necessarily accounted for in the survey.
Another issue with the study is that it did not look at the efficacy of the top 40 sites’ social media efforts. Boots, for instance, a retailer of pharmacy and health/beauty products, does not have a Facebook or Twitter account at all, which certainly skews the findings. John Lewis, another UK retailer, only just created a profile on Facebook. Apparel retailer, ASOS, by contrast, sees more than six percent of its traffic driven from Facebook and Twitter.
The lesson from ForeSee Results’ survey is not to jettison social media efforts, but instead to use them more effectively to drive traffic and convert sales.