Popularity of social media posts important for sales and loyalty

We know that content that gets a lot of reaction is more likely to make it to our customers Facebook newsfeed than other content, because of the way Facebook’s algorithm prioritises what to show.


Image source

But the question is, is this type of content also likely to get customers through the door?


A study by researchers Ashish Kumar, Ram Bezawada, Rishika Rishika, Ramkumar Janakiraman and P.K. Kannan [1] indicates that the answer to this question is Yes. The study, which I also mentioned here, examined the link between the level of engagement in a wine retailer’s social media page, and the company’s instore sales.


In terms of engagement, the study looked at:

  • Valence – i.e., the sentiment of the posts. This factor is controlled by the firm.
  • Receptivity – i.e. the popularity of the posts. This factor reflects the customer involvement with the content.
  • Customer susceptibility to social media posts – i.e., the customer’s predisposition towards using social media. This factor reveals “the underlying mechanisms that may drive observed (subsequent) effects” (p.8).


As illustrated in table 1, the researchers found that popular posts had the most impact on both customer spending and cross-buying. Cross-buying refers to the

number of product categories that a customer buys from. A high number is taken to signal a strong relationship between the customer and the firm.


The next factor influencing sales was the post’s valence (i.e., the emotion conveyed or elicited by the post). Customer susceptibility had some impact, but not much.

Table 1. Impact of ongoing marketing communications on sales

Social to sale table 9

Source: Kumar et al (2016)

In other words, this study reinforces the view that, when it comes to generating sales and developing the relationship, it is important to create content that is likely to get noticed, and create a reaction (likes, shares, comments…). I.e., volume of reaction is important.


A similar effect had been observed in a study looking at the impact of online product reviews. That study (which I mentioned here), found that, for a mass market product, the number of online reviews that the product received had more influence on its success than the valence of the reviews.



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