A Twitter study reveals the impact of different types of online content on in-store sales volume.

Promoted tweets have a real impact on retail sales

Despite the massive growth of e-commerce across all consumer sectors, in-store sales still account for the major part of retail activity in the United States, more than 94% of overall sales being made in stores, according to a report from the US Census Bureau.Meanwhile in its blog Twitter has described the impact which social networks – or to be more precise, promoted tweets– can have on in-store sales volume by matching up online activity with the offline results of tweeting strategy. Teaming up with Datalogix, a firm which specializes in connecting digital media and offline purchasing data, Twitter has developed a new indicator to quantify the impact of both promoted and organic tweets on in-store sales.

Quantifying the impact of online engagement

This is the first time that Twitter has made available the results of its Offline Sales Impact tool to the general public. Its study seeks to quantify the impact of a firm’s online (tweeting) activity on its in-store sales. The new tool has been trialed with 35 Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) brands, including Oreo, Trident Gum and Wheat Thins. The study examines the impact of two types of content: promoted tweets, where the brand pays to have its tweets appear on the site’s home page; and organic tweets, which are not paid for but simply appear on the brand’s account. Firstly, the report reveals that users who engage with a brand’s promoted tweets – whether the engagement takes the form of sharing or a direct response – purchase 12% more from that brand than a statistically identical control group. In addition, brand followers react more concretely to a brand’s promoted tweets, collectively purchasing a third more than those who were exposed to organic tweets alone. Thus it appears that building a committed community is a determining factor in making a real impact on sales volume.

Dual strategy: promoted plus organic content

The study also reveals the value of keeping up the online presence on an ongoing basis. Even purely passive exposure to a brand’s organic content results in a more than 8% increase in offline sales. And this appears to rise exponentially: the sales lift recorded was over threefold among followers who were exposed to more than five tweets. According to Ameet Ranadive, Product Manager for Revenue at Twitter: “Brands which tweet regularly see a rapid increase in their in-store sales volume.” Moreover, the balance between organic and promoted content is a determining factor, as initial organic presence means the brand can develop ongoing, progressive engagement with its customers. Promoted content can then piggy-back on this basic engagement so as to increase sales. In offering advertisers customized indicators that enable them to quantify the business value of their online presence more accurately, Twitter is following Facebook, in a bid to avoid being swept away if and when, as has been predicted, the social media bubble finally deflates.

By Thomas Meyer
Journalist, Business Analyst