Social Media: A Case Study

Social Media: A Case Study

There’s a saying that hard cases make bad laws – but they can still be thought provoking. And that’s exactly the case with a company I met recently. They’d used Social Media (SM) exclusively to generate sales for kids toys.

Social Media Background

The innovative product clearly rocked with the kids. The video was hyper cool. Pricing was competitive. The company’s website was slick even if the User Experience (UX) wasn’t perfect. The company put all their marketing into Social Media (SM) so there were no sales attribution issues. We knew exactly the source of all sales. Perfectly. Likes on Facebook hit about 35,000 – so the Return on Engagement (RoE) was massive – eyeballs were popping, fingers were clicking.

There was only one “slight” problem.

Sales were $0, £0, €0 – zilch. So the Return on Investment (ROI) was less than diddly-squat. It’s an urban myth Social Media is cheap. Content such as videos cost money. Add in:
  • Campaign management time
  • Expenses (PCs, security, training, networks)
  • Overheads (management, rent, rates)
  • The opportunity cost of lost sales (sales that you could have generated elsewhere)
And things go from dire to truly, shockingly, awful. Wouldn’t it have been faster and less expensive to have just trialed a Google AdWords campaign? You’d have results in a few days – and could then scale up or down. AdWords isn’t cheap. But it’s cost-effective.

Social Media QED?

At least in this case study, Facebook, social media’s Emperor, had no clothes. And I think that may be the case generally. It’s over-hyped and oversold. All smoke – and mirrors – but no fire. It sounds good in theory but start analyzing the data and – whilst the RoE is as magical – the RoI is a Gothic horror story.
RoE is vanity and RoI is sanity.
Yes, you may need to use SM to contain a forest fire of abuse when things go wrong. But use it to generate sales? Put politely, I’m unconvinced. But “two heads are better than one” as they say. Do all of us at the coal face of digital marketing have a view on this? Is this just a Facebook phenomena? What’s your view? Alternative opinions welcomed.

Consensus View

I’ve had quite a bit of feedback from this article. The consensus seems to be that SM is essentially a PR activity. It’s strength and weaknesses are:


  • Good at generating interest
  • Good at keeping clients and prospects “on message”.


  • Poor at generating sales directly
  • Difficult to track in terms of RoI
Do you have a view? I’d still welcome your feedback. Contact me if you’d like help with your digital marketing – call me on 0208 998 5728.