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Study Shows Social Does Drive Sales
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If your small business uses social media for marketing, you know it’s easy to track things like “likes,” follows and retweets. Less clear-cut, however, is how and whether social media actually drives users to purchase. Now a new study from Vision Critical offers some answers. From Social to Sale polled nearly 6,000 participants. Among the key data the study found:

  • 40 percent of social media users have bought a product online or in-store after sharing or favoriting it on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.
  • Social media drives roughly equal amounts of online and in-store purchasing.
  • About half of social-media-related purchases take place within a week of sharing or favoriting the purchased item.
  • While Twitter and Facebook purchasers were more likely to make social media-related purchases of products they were already considering or researching, Pinterest was more likely to drive spontaneous purchasing.

However, Facebook was the biggest driver of sales overall—possibly because it was the most popular network. Overall, 73 percent of survey respondents use Facebook, 24 percent use Twitter and 15 percent use Pinterest. Nearly four in 10 (38 percent) of Facebook users have made a purchase after sharing, liking or commenting on something on Facebook; 29 percent of Pinterest users have made a purchase after pinning, repining or liking something on Pinterest; and 22 percent of Twitter users have made a purchase after tweeting, retweeting or favoriting something on Twitter.

Another reason Facebook may work best at driving purchases is that it’s the most frequently used network, with 75 percent of users saying they log into it every day. In contrast, just 17 percent of Pinterest and Twitter users say they use it daily. What’s more, within the 18-to-34 age group, 75 percent log into Facebook multiple times a day.

What are the takeaways for companies trying to drive more sales through social media? You’ll want to read the massive report yourself for tips, but here are some key points:

If you want to reach the “average” American, you’ll have best luck on Facebook, which is pretty evenly divided between male and female users (57 percent female, 43 percent male) or Twitter, which has a similar but opposite gender breakdown (46 percent female, 54 percent male). Want to reach women? Get on Pinterest, which is 83 percent female.

Within all three social media networks, users 35 to 44 predominate, making up about 45 percent of the user base. If you’re targeting users over 55, you’ll have best luck on Facebook; 35 percent of users are in that age group.

Overall, Vision Critical puts it this way: If you’re trying to reach women 55 and up, use Pinterest; for women 35 to 54, use Facebook; and for young men (18 to 34), try Twitter.

What product purchases are most likely to be driven by social networks?

  • For Pinterest, the predominant purchases were food and drink; art, design, craft and photography; gardening and décor; and clothing or beauty.
  • For Facebook, the leaders were electronics and technology, clothing or beauty, food and drink.
  • For Twitter, tech and electronics ruled, followed by clothing and beauty products.

Here are some steps to take to improve your results from social media:

  • Decide which sales and deals to offer on which networks.
  • Refine the kind of content you post to each network in order to improve its effectiveness in driving purchases. Specifically, Vision Critical recommends you:
  • Share product information and sales alerts on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Include “where to buy” information on Facebook
  • Embed sale, discount and coupon offers in pinnable images on Pinterest.
  • Plan and time follow-up emails and social media messages to refresh interest from customers who have shared on social media, and convince them to purchase.

Get help with your business’s social media marketing. Check out’s Facebook Boost.

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at, follow her on Google+ and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.
Rieva Lesonsky

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