One way for social media to capture more attention and ad revenue from marketers is to prove that the format drives sales. Analysts have studied the  purchase path from socialmoneysocial media to e-commerce, which would be a nice way to show attribution. The problem is, some studies fail to link social media directly to e-commerce sales in a significant way.

Writing for Ecommerce Quarterly, Jay Baer and Mitch Joel point out that social media and word-of-mouth marketing are ‘inherently additive pieces of the conversion funnel, rather than causative’. Social commerce comprises about 1.55% of all web traffic. Measured conversions from this source total about .71%. This compares to email at 3.19% and search at 1.95%.

Social media also doesn’t hold up well when compared to other channels in studies that measure sources and URLs which result in add-to-cart purchases from a direct response campaign:

  • Email 10.51%
  • Search 6.81%
  • Social 3.24%

Analysts are still trying to figure out how to measure the value of social media, especially as a form of word-of-mouth marketing. Baer and Joel caution marketers against trying to use traditional tools to measure the results of a social media campaign. The campaigns must be measured in terms of the loyalty they build. In addition, all social networks are not alike with respect to the types of consumers they attract.

The traffic driven by social sites to e-commerce vendors and the average order value breaks out as follows:

  • Facebook 55.18% ($71.26)
  • Pinterest 24.96% ($80.54)
  • StumbleUpon 10.65% ($49.78)
  • Twitter 9.06% ($70.17)
  • LinkedIn 0.14% ($38.42)

Researchers found it fascinating that Pinterest is generating more social commerce than Twitter but this detail may not be all that surprising considering the heavily female audience on this network. Pinterest users are also interested in décor and apparel trends which helps explain the stronger link to social commerce when compared to a network like LinkedIn which is more about professional development.

To learn more about Brand Friends & Followers, a key social audience for marketers, check out the Audience Interests & Intent Report available at the Research Store on ad-ology.com.

[Source: Baer, Jay and Joel, Mitch. Ecommerce Quarterly. Monetate.com. May 2013. Web. 7 Jun. 2013]