Do social media drive sales?

social media sales

Do social media drive sales?

We know social media are important, but do they drive sales? Vision Critical recently ventured to answer that question. The company has produced a report called “From social to sale: 8 questions to ask your consumers,” which contains some very interesting data from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom and sheds light on whether social media have an impact on sales.

Some of the key findings of the report include

  • 4 in 10 social media users have bought something after “sharing” or “favouriting” it on social media like Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest
  • Online and in-store purchases driven by social media are relatively equal
  • Pinterest is the most likely catalyst to drive “spontaneous purchasing”

Other interesting numbers reveal the portion of users, by platform, making purchases after “sharing” or “favouriting” on that platform. For example

  • 15% of the population uses Pinterest, and 29% of these users have made a purchase after liking/pinning an item on Pinterest
  • 73% of the population uses Facebook, and 38% of these users have made a purchase after sharing/liking an item on Facebook
  • 24% of the population uses Twitter and 22% of these users have purchased something after tweeting/retweeting/favouriting it on Twitter

What does this mean for your organization?

It means that social media can drive sales. It also means it will be important for you to know which social platform–or platforms–your customers frequent. This information may be gleaned from industry data, like the research about social media demographics contained here and here. As well as from primary research conducted by your organization through methods like customer surveys.

Social media should not be your only strategy. They should fit into a larger outreach program influenced by in depth knowledge and understanding of your customers.

This report is filled with so much great data. It is definitely worth the read! Check it out here.

Send us a note if you’d like to talk to us about social media. 


Report referenced:

Samuel, A., Sevitt, D., Lam, L., Loh, C. and Vision Critical. “From Social to Sale: 8 questions to ask your customers.” June 25, 2013. Accessed online July 23, 2013 at




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  • HowieG

    I know my tweet was kind of dissenting. I don’t like the study. It proves why R/Marketing/Advertising plays second fiddle to Sales, Operations, IT etc within companies. Studies often use questions and answers to support an inherent bias. So if I am the CMO all in on Social Media and I want to procure more funding from the CFO who is trying to decide where to allocate resources they will always take concrete vs fuzzy. Concrete is ‘Hire a new sales rep who on average bring in $1m a year for the company’. ‘Upgrade our manufacturing which will reduce costs $1m per year’.

    But if you say ‘People use social to make buying decisions’ and prove it with this study it doesn’t sell me as proof. I have 14 years B2B direct sales experience and a degree in Finance. What I want to see is frequency and action.

    We all make so many buying decisions often everyday. If you ask me has social influenced my buying decisions in the past (at least once) I will say yes. If you ask me have I ever bought something or tried something closely after seeing a friend tweet or post or blog? I will say yes. If you ask have I ever gone to my social networks asking for input on a buying decision? I will say yes. A study can then rubber stamp ‘The power of social media’

    But if you say in the last 3 years how often do I do this vs all my buying decisions I make every day. I would say ‘Almost never’. The few have been big ticket items (IPhone vs Android for example). Every so often someone tries a new food item I then try (less than 1x per month this happens)

    That said the brand I champion Chobani grew to number 1 in the US by the power of bloggers and word of mouth. Proof of this thesis.

    Martin just blogged on Spin Sucks about the future of PR. And this goes for Marketing. We have to focus on showing proof of our efforts with more concrete numbers the CEO and CFO can look at and measure up against the other corporate disciplines or we will always be looked at as the step children in their orgs.

    • kate

      Hi Howie. Thanks for your feedback.

      I agree. You have a very valid point. If my blog post left
      you with the impression that social media trump traditional sales, I apologize.
      I think that social media can drive people to make a purchase, but I certainly don’t
      think social media are the only driver of sales. Social media should be one
      part of a larger integrated strategy.

      Each week I write a blog post about a new piece of research
      relevant to our industry. I think this study provides some interesting information about online
      behaviours in three countries that can provide social media marketers with
      validation that their efforts do have an effect.

      It would be interesting to see a study of observed behaviour, through analytics perhaps, to assess the impact of social media on sales. I’ll keep an eye out for one!

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