Twitter and Datalogix release study with predictable but fascinating results

Last Thursday Twitter released a study in partnership with Datalogix that explored what they have termed the “offline sales impact” of a tweet. Datalogix studied 35 Twitter campaigns from major CPG brands (Consumer Packaged Goods), and found that, unsurprisingly, Twitter has an extremely favourable impact on offline sales. The three primary conclusions were:

  1. Twitter rocks because engagement leads to greater in-store sales.
  2. Twitter rocks because brands’ organic tweets drive sales.
  3. Twitter rocks because followers who see promoted tweets buy more.

In short, Twitter rocks.

So what does the research actually mean? In scientific terms, very little. The data size was undisclosed (which should always ring alarm bells) and of course any study initiated by the subject themselves is inherently biased and unreliable. In reality, this study is little more than a highly sophisticated advert aimed at increasing their credibility prior to their eagerly anticipated IPO, but that’s not to say we shouldn’t be interested….

Here we have it, right from the birdie’s mouth, that you shouldn’t be measuring your social ROI in terms of clicks and direct online sales. As revealed in previous reports, the role of social, in particular Twitter, in delivering direct ecommerce sales is almost negligible. However, as Twitter observe on their blog, 94% of sales continue to happen offline and it is the impact on that 94% that brands should be concerned with. A similar study by Datalogix on behalf of Facebook last year reached the same conclusion, the role of social shouldn’t be viewed in the way we view other forms of digital marketing, but rather in the way that we view the role of television; it’s about brand and reach!

It’s absolutely right for companies to question the ROI of social, but before they can accurately measure their return they must first understand the objectives. If your goal from Twitter is to boost online sales, you will probably be disappointed. However, if the goal is to promote awareness and all the positive traditional metrics that come with that, then Twitter is an essential part of the mix and the metrics will continue to prove it!

Or at least Twitter better hope so.

Dan