Does social media still matter in sales?

One of the reasons businesses have flocked to social media is the expectation that it is can drive sales. Is this true?


If there is anything that has become ubiquitous these days – even in the Caribbean – it is social media. Although it is widely popular among individuals, who have a wide range of platforms to enjoy, including, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat and YouTube, organisations are also being encouraged to develop and nurture their social media presence.

One of the much touted benefits of social media to businesses is that it is facilitates direct and immediate contact between a business and its customers, and so is an excellent and affordable means of driving sales. It is also acknowledged that those online communities can be especially useful to secure feedback and to manage complaints.

However, although organisations might pride themselves on the number of followers they have on a particular social network, frequently it does not readily mean increased sales (or lead conversions, for example) eventuate. Many social media platforms have configured their algorithms to encourage more paid advertising, which to an appreciable extent, is their largest revenue stream. Hence, increasingly, businesses need to pay in order to get a decent number of eyeballs viewing their content, without having to go direct to their account page.

Further, and perhaps more importantly, some experts have been observed that generally, the interaction and participation of followers is not what it used to be. However, there could several reasons, such as:

  • the organisation’s posts are not longer getting into a large proportion of their followers’ news stream;
  • the followers, themselves, are being inundated with so much content that the organisation’s posts are being overlooked; or although they might see the posts, and
  • even if they do see the posts, they are not motivated enough to engage them.

Ultimately, and under those circumstances, it may be prudent to ask whether social media is still effective for sales, which is what spurred many businesses to join in the first place?

Increasingly, experts are of the view that the benefits of social media to businesses are more along the lines of engaging an audience, and building brand awareness and loyalty – which are important elements in marketing. However, it also means that organisations may need to revisit their social media strategies, especially if sales/lead conversions, for example, were critical goals.

One of the things that must be emphasised is that building a social network is time consuming, and requires considerable effort. The same can apply when implementing a social media campaign, as it can several weeks or months to have meaningful results. Hence organisations ought to clear about the extent to which the resources and efforts social media demands – to do it right – along with the returns likely from such investments.


Image credits:  Mark Kens (flickr)



  • Businesses have had ( and will have ) to begin to adjust their strategies around social media as its advantages evolve.

    For businesses social media is increasingly becoming an “observation pool”: where you see what participants are doing, what they like, what they are shunning. . . Then redesigning and repackaging your offering, along with the requisite investment, to be in tune with those observations.

    A key component of Amazon’s decision to focus its business growth and recent heavy investment ( some whooping $2 – 3 billion ) in India has been by studying the consumers, through various avenues but social media a key one.

    • Kamutula,

      Excellent insights, especially the fact the companies are using social media as an observation pool.

      It seems, increasing, social media is being used, essentially, for market research, and not so much as a sales channel…

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