Social media is not the marketing silver bullet that analysts would lead us to believe.
Web 2.0 sites account for only 3 per cent of visits to web retailers in the UK, according to a report.
Research by ForeSee Results claims that promotional email is three times more effective (10 per cent of visits), while search engines were four times more likely to send potential customers to retailer sites.
"Serious thought needs to be given to finding out whether social media is worth the investment for their business," said Larry Freed, CEO of ForeSee Results.
"If the answer is yes, they need to make the most of it by making sure that interactions on social media meet the needs and expectations of customers. Otherwise, the effort is wasted and could even be detrimental to the business."
The study queried 10,000 visitors to 40 major web retailers and found that in general consumers did not wish to be "friends" with their online shops.
When it came to ways of staying in touch with customers, the research had another warning for retailers that have been rushing headlong into the web to build relationships.
When asked about their preferred mode of communication with the company, one in five said they'd rather not receive any communication at all, while 60 per cent said email was the best method. Only 2 per cent wanted to communicate via social media sites, and only 1 per cent via text message.
According to Foresee, customers who had visited a retailer's site after receiving a message directly from the company on a social network were also most likely to be dissatisfied.
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