Black Friday/Cyber Monday Social Rundown
By most accounts this past holiday weekend was a good one for online retailers. Expanding sales brought a lift against last year’s revenue numbers for not only Cyber Monday but into Black Friday as well. Mobile saw a large increase this year as well. The headlines were not so rosy for social media.
“Social networks fail Cyber Monday test” was the schadenfreude that greeted social marketers the day after Cyber Monday. Mashable seemed ready to give up on Cyber Monday in its entirety. The echo chambers of digital media seemed to resound with a “look what you kids have done” string of complaints.
The catalyst to this was a highly publicized data set from IBM gathered from their cloud-computing Digital Analytics Benchmark service. The Social Sales bullet point in their press release painted a gleefully dismal picture:
“Shoppers referred from Social Networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube generated .34 percent of all online sales on Black Friday, a decrease of more than 35 percent from 2011.”
Less than half of a percent?
What followed was the usual amount of speculation about the actual worth of social. Subsequent data sets, the most prevalent of which you can find compiled in an excellent Venture Beat article, suggest that this is not a complete picture. While IBM only measured last-click-before-purchase, Facebook reported sunnier metrics about site referral traffic and Fab happily attributed 20% of its sales to members that joined through Facebook.
Quantifying revenue from social is a process that is still developing, and certainly we would argue for a wider lens than last-click when measuring how social can drive purchase. Beyond this, though, these articles ignore a critical factor in the value of social.
While direct-to-purchase social is still something that the industry is working on, social has proved a powerful tool for driving both brand awareness and brand affinity. Combining these with a scaled community gives brands unprecedented ability to be top-of-mind in spaces their customers spend significant portions of their free time.
Bonobos, an online menswear retailer, demonstrated a savvy awareness of this balance (full disclosure – I own a pair of Bonobos slacks and think they’re a damn fine pair of pants). In the weeks leading up to the holiday weekend Bonobos ran an ad-supported campaign on Facebook that reached out to new followers and incentivized them to Like the brand and spread awareness by running weekly giveaways of some of their signature items. Though I was a previous customer I had not Liked them on Facebook, so their ads targeted me through my friends who had already Liked the brand, and then got to my friends by encouraging me to share their content in exchange for a chance to score some new duds.
What this campaign did was make sure that my Facebook wall was abuzz with Bonobos on a regular basis in the weeks leading up to Black Friday/Cyber Monday. Then, when the weekend arrived I cruised over to the site directly to check out what deals they had.
Instead of relying on just a few days’ worth of deep discounts on social to catch my attention, Bonobos used social promotions as a longer term tactic to increase purchase consideration (and acquire a nice set of new fans rolling right into the holiday season).
So, while direct-to-purchase social continues to evolve, we’d like to remind that social platforms offer a much larger world of value for brands who know how to leverage them.