Gallup has caused quite a stir with a survey showing that social media has little to no impact on the purchasing decisions of most consumers.
The key study chart study, which shows 62% of consumers responded social media has no impact on their purchasing decisions, is below.
Needless to say, not everyone agrees. Adweek quickly countered with an article titled Gallup's Buzzy Social Media Report 'Deeply Flawed'. Key quote:
These claims have caused a pretty good media ruckus despite having a methodology that appears flawed on multiple levels. Of all the flags that go up, this is probably the reddest: The social media marketing stats are based on surveys that were performed back in December 2012 and January 2013. In the disruptive world of online marketing, 18 months is a virtual lifetime ago. Nearly every social media platform has gone through significant changes since Gallup collected its data.
It's not only Gallup questioning the use of social media for sales and marketing.
A recent study by the Career Advisory Board and MBO Partners found that very few successful independent workers (freelancers, independent consultants, etc.) rely on social media for sales and marketing.
Key quote from a Chicago Tribune article on the study:
In-person networking still trumps social media: The survey pool reported that while social media is important for contractors’ branding and reputation, it often does not generate income. In fact, just 6 percent said social media outreach led to paid project work. Therefore, create strong profiles on sites like LinkedIn and Google+, but refrain from spending too much time on these networks and make sure you still build in face time.
The effectiveness of social media for sales and marketing, especially for small businesses, has long been questioned. But two things are very clear: (1) social media works works for some; and, (2) social media doesn't work for others.
Because of this, our social media advice to small businesses remains the same as it's been for years:
learn about and experiment with the various social media platforms, test them for a mix of business purposes, measure your results, and use them if you're getting a strong ROI relative to other uses of your time and money.
Disclosure: MBO Partners is an Emergent Research client.