Does social media work as marketing channel for eCommerce?

Is social media a good marketing channel? We’ve touched this question couple times in past. This week I’ve came across couple fresh researches, so decided to revisit this topic again.

Sensis Social Media Report 2016

First research is Sensis Social Media Report 2016. It has a subtitle “How Australian people and businesses are using social media”.  The research is based on surveying 800 consumers and 1,100 businesses across Australia. It is pretty interesting document, worth reading in full (you find a link in References section), but several important highlights are below.

Consumer side

Reasons to use social media (consumers), source: Sensis Social Media Report 2016

  • Just 16% of Australian use social media to follow brands and businesses, down from 32% in 2014 and 24% last year. It is very significant drop, 1/3 per year
  • Share of people who use social media to access promotions from brands, research products and write review also shrinking
  • 36% of consumer follow at some (at least one) brand or business associated social media account. If we rephrase it 64% (almost 2/3) Australian don’t follow any brand in social media

Source: Sensis Social Media Report 2016

  • Most followed industries are fashion and sport clubs and the share of people following is lower than last year
  • Most people don’t like advertising in social media (41%), including sponsored ads (50%), 32% are actually turned off by brands advertised on social networks

All that facts confirm the thesis that people come to social media to interact with other people not brands.

Let’s look on the business side now

  • Businesses continue to rump up their investment in social media – 29% small, 28% medium and 49% large businesses indicated that expecting increase in social media expenditure
  • Just 21% of small businesses and 27% of medium businesses measure return on social media investment in some way, for big businesses this number is 61% (big jump from 29% last year)
  • Among those businesses that measure social media success, the primary way to measure is to count likes and followers, followed by attribution to sales and profit

Demac Media eCommerce Benchmark Report Q1 2016

Let’s travel to the other side of the globe and see what’s going on in Canada – the second research is eCommerce Benchmark Report prepared by Canadian eCommerce agency Demac Media. The analysed aggregate data from Google Analytics of their clients.

Below is just one chart related with social media and eCommerce from this report

Sessions by traffic source. Source: Demac Media eCommerce Benchmark Report Q1 2016

Share of social media traffic here is so small that they didn’t put the number on the chart. So I had to make the calculation – social media share as a source of traffic is a whopping 2%


These two new researches confirm the point we wrote before – social media is massively overrated as an effective marketing channel. It may work for in some cases for some businesses, but in general I recommend to think twice before heavily investing there and compare it with cool head with other channels, especially if you are not a sport club or fashion brand.

Not convinced? Check this fresh video where Mark Ritson talk about this topic much better than I.


  1. Sensis Social Media Report 2016
  2. Demac Media eCommerce Benchmark Report Q1 2016




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