Social Media Engagement Linked to Consumer Spending

A new study on social media engagement has found that highly engaging posts have the greatest impact on consumer spending.


social media engagement and consumer spending


Published in the Journal of Marketing, this study sheds light on the importance of strong engagement in social media marketing campaigns.

Researchers combed through data from several large retailers, all of whom had multiple locations within the United States. For the study, researchers specifically looked at customer engagement data on the retailers’ social media pages, cross-referencing it to retailers’ in-store purchases.


So, what did they discover?

Researchers found that social media posts with the highest level of engagement (e.g. likes, comments and shares) had the greatest impact on consumer spending. Retailers that published highly engaging posts on social media reaped the benefits of more in-store sales.


Furthermore, researchers discovered that highly engaging posts on social media improved the effect of traditional TV and email marketing campaigns. For instance, when social media is combined with TV commercial advertising, spending increased by 1.03%, and cross-promoting sales increased by 0.84%. That’s not a huge increase, but for large retailers those percentage points can equal big bucks.


A neutral or even negative social media post with high engagement will impact sales more than a positive post that draws no likes, comments, or shares,” says Ram Bezawada, associate professor of marketing in the University at Buffalo School of Management and the study’s coauthor. “This is true even among customers who say their purchase decisions are not swayed by what they read on social media.


Whether you’re a national retailer or a small business owner, you should focus your social media marketing efforts around user engagement. Just because you post something on social media doesn’t necessarily mean that your target audience, nor does it mean that it will have any impact whatsoever on their spending habits. But you can always tell if your social media content is a success by looking at user engagement.

Are users liking and commenting on your content? If so, it’s a sign that your content is a hit, and engagement such as this typically translates into more sales, according to this latest study.


Here are some tips to boost your social media engagement:


  • Conduct polls and ask questions to your followers.
  • Run contests.
  • Post at the right times of day, typically when your target audience is most likely to use social media.
  • Include images in your social media posts.
  • See what other posts have high engagement.