- Owned social media elasticity on sales is higher than on social media engagement: Although managers are investing increasingly more in owned social media, they tend to monitor the effectiveness of their owned social media posts using metrics that are relatively easy to gather, such as those linked to social media engagement (e.g., likes, comments, shares). If brands were to focus on engagement metrics, they may underestimate the impact of their social media. In fact, we also find that what drives the effect on social media engagement does not necessarily work for sales.
- Contrary to popular belief, emotional content is more effective for social media engagement compared to social content (e.g., calls for action, questions): Although social content helps brands stand out online, it is less powerful than emotional content as the emotional arousal fosters message liking and sharing.
- Surprisingly, deals content has no superior impact, even if marketers have named it as one of their top three reasons for using social media: Informational content is more effective, as it aids consumers in their purchase decisions.
- Context matters. The effect of owned social media on sales is stronger…
- …in smaller than larger brand communities: It is more important to focus on the quality rather than quantity of followers, to better understand and address consumer needs and expectations and create more authentic and intimate interactions.
- …for new products than mature products: Managers can benefit from creating content about new products on social media, boosting sales.
- …in countries with higher mobile phone penetration and higher power distance: Because many platforms are international, using one global social media strategy is tempting, but managers cannot count on the same type of response across countries.
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Liadeli G, Sotgiu F, Verlegh PWJ (2022), “A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Brand Owned Social Media on Social Media Engagement and Sales,” Journal of Marketing. doi:10.1177/00222429221123250
What are the effects of a brand’s owned social media? This meta-analysis examines the impact of owned social media on social media engagement and sales. Whereas the findings support some current beliefs, e.g., owned social media are more effective to boost sales for new (vs. mature) products, it highlights several novel insights. Contrary to popular beliefs that owned social media mainly drive engagement and hardly affect sales, the results show the opposite with an average elasticity of .137 for social media engagement and .353 for sales. In addition, the results suggest ways to better adapt owned social media content to communication goals. To create engagement, content needs to focus on emotional needs and steer away from deals, which are the least effective content type. To stimulate sales, content should not be emotional, but rather be more functional in nature, and communicate product benefits. Surprisingly, we find that growing a large social media community is not essential for boosting sales, as owned social media are more effective for brands with fewer followers. Furthermore, while using one global social media strategy is tempting, owned social media are more effective in countries with high power distance, calling for a less uniform approach.
Special thanks to Demi Oba, Duke University, for his support in working with authors on submissions to this program.
Read a managerial summary of this article.
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