Practical Ecommerce

Social Media Survey Results: Few Sales Coming from Social Media Efforts

Many social media platforms have evolved to integrate marketing, advertising and commerce. This got us wondering how many companies use social media for business purposes and how effective it has been. A recent survey conducted by Practical eCommerce polled our readers about the current trend toward social commerce.

The January 2011 Survey asked four questions about social media in business, with a comment section for each response. Readers who completed the survey, and then provided us with their names and email addresses, were automatically entered in a contest to win a $25 Amazon gift card. The January 2011 contest winner, chosen by a random number generator, was Paulette Mandelbaum of newINTERACTIONS.

What Forms of Social Media Do You Use for Your Business?

Chart: What forms of social media do you use for your business? Choose all that apply.

Chart: What forms of social media do you use for your business? Choose all that apply.

It’s no surprise that Facebook and Twitter are the most used social platforms, with more than 80 percent of respondents saying they use both. Facebook received the highest number of positive responses (88.6 percent), and Twitter ran a close second with 84.3 percent. Blogs are used by 58.6 percent of polled businesses, and LinkedIn is used by nearly half of respondents (45.7 percent).

The box for “Other” forms of social media was ticked by just 17.1 percent. At the bottom of the charts is MySpace, garnering a mere 4.3 percent of responses.

Comments on this question were mainly about other types of social media used by respondents. Four said they use YouTube, two said they use Yelp, and two said they use Foursquare. Single mentions included Vimeo, SlideShare,, and Flickr.

What Percentage of Your Company’s Sales Stem from Its Social Media Efforts?

Chart: What percentage of your company's sales stem from its social media efforts?

Chart: What percentage of your company’s sales stem from its social media efforts?

More than three-quarters of respondents (77.1 percent) said they receive less than 5 percent of sales directly or indirectly from social media. Another 12.9 percent said they receive between 6 – 10 percent in sales from social media; 4.3 percent of respondents said they get between 11 – 20 percent; and 5.7 percent said social media is responsible for more than 20 percent of sales.

None of the comments on this question were in a positive vein. One wrote, “I would probably say ‘nil’ – despite having had a Facebook Shop (Payvment – not current) and placing Facebook ads.” Another said, “Difficult to track – currently viewing as a branding/PR channel.” A third said, “I’m really not sure yet, we’re new to social media. This is a guess.”

Rate How Effective Your Company’s Social Media Efforts Have Been to Date

Chart: Rate (on a scale of 1-5) how effective your company's social media efforts have been to date, where 1 = 'not effective,' and 5 = 'very effective.'

Chart: Rate (on a scale of 1-5) how effective your company’s social media efforts have been to date, where 1 = ‘not effective,’ and 5 = ‘very effective.’

We asked respondents to rank the effectiveness of their companies’ social media efforts to date, where 1 = ”not effective” and 5 = “very effective.” More than a quarter of those polled (27.1 percent) chose number 1, or “not effective,” and another quarter (24.3 percent) chose 2, or “slightly effective.”

The largest percentage of respondents landed in the middle, with 32.9 percent choosing number 3. Ten percent ticked 4, and just 5.7 percent said their company’s social media efforts have been “very effective.”

Comments on this question ranged from hopeful to doubtful. One said, “It’s hard to know, but we depend a lot on reaching people online, so we believe it will be successful.” Another respondent said, “No sales and very little increase in followers on Facebook. My ads were tailored [precisely] to my target market.” One comment seemed optimistic for the future, “It’s getting better and more effective over time. Key is to build a presence and then begin leveraging it through more specific offers.”

Which Best Describes You or Your Business?

Chart: Which best describes you or your business?

Chart: Which best describes you or your business?

A large number (68.6 percent) of those polled said they are an ecommerce company. Vendors of software, SaaS or other third-party providers made up 8.6 percent of respondents, and 20 percent ticked “other.” Only 2.9 percent of respondents said they are developers, designers or programmers.

Kate Monteith

Kate Monteith

Bio   •   RSS Feed


Sign up for our email newsletter

  1. Pamela Hazelton February 22, 2011 Reply

    While there are ways companies can leverage more sales via social media, they need to realize that consistency is what makes it happen. Ideally, though, small businesses should be using social media to build the brand and keep it in people’s minds.

  2. gmcfax February 24, 2011 Reply

    We tried Facebook Advertising and spent hundreds with no conversions. The problem is that you cannot target by keyword….you target your ads by demographics. Our experience is that this targeting is not specific enough to draw clicks from paying customers.

  3. Elizabeth Ball March 7, 2011 Reply

    I’ve had sales on Linkedin, but it’s not from LinkedIn ads. Instead it’s been from regularly commenting on its Answers section for free.
    Simply key in a phrase for which you want your business to be known, and answer away.
    Pretty soon you’ll be regarded as knowledgeable, a go-to person for that topic and if someone is the market for that product or service, you’re in business!