Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Does a social following translate into sales?

The stigma attached to a following   A social network following can be said to replicate the amount of interest gathered in a product, service or person. There are cases where this can be true and others where in reality, we are lead to believe otherwise. There are many people and businesses that could argue that a bigger social presence means that there is an increase in either the amount of sales or the amount of popular appeal. From reading this article you will realise that it is not necessarily that simple to judge based on a following or people just taking an interest.  

Facebook Likes 

The term 'likes' in social networking describes the ability to click a button that shows that the user is in favour of something. For example, if there was a picture of the colour red, painted onto a wall and people were in favour of it, they would click a button somewhere on the screen that says 'like' to show they are in favour of it, or put more simply, they like it. To my knowledge, Facebook was the first social network to use likes as an important part of their set up. There are many organisations, and celebrities that have fan pages on Facebook. The amount of likes on these pages can be perceived to be the same amount of people that are genuinely interested in a product service or celebrity. To the untrained business mind, it would make logical sense to say that the amount of social interest gained by a product would equate to the amount of people that would be potential users of this product. It is an understanable logic, however the interest mounted in the product could be huge and the sales per unit might not match up. For instance if a 500 ml bottle of Coca-Cola costs £1, but 1 million people 'like' the product on Facebook, it doesn't have to mean that the drink will sell one million units. The factors affecting people's decision making are things such as:  

Price: If a product costs a certain amount of money to buy, the assumption is that not everyone in the associated target market will be able to afford it.  

Convenience: This can also have a little to do with price because if a product is useful to a potential consumer, sometimes the cost of it may lead them to think "do I really need this?"  

Alternatives: Are there some much lesser known, cheaper alternatives that do almost or exactly the same job.  

Twitter Followers  

Followers on Twitter are people with a Twitter account who actively keep up to date with another users status updates. Twitter followers are similar to Facebook friends, the difference being that it is a less personal approach between one follower to another. It can be perceived that the amount of followers that an individual has, shows how socially appealing they are. People are socially appealing for different reasons. Some have a big Twitter following because they are outspoken, not afraid to say exactly what they feel. Others have many Twitter followers because they have naturally appealing personalities or regularly tweet about certain topics. For example I follow many entrepreneurs on Twitter because I hope to become one, one day, so I follow people relative to my interests. Another reason why people follow others is because they are celebrities and fans want to know about their lives.   Celebrities tend to have much more twitter followers than the local paper boy or lollipop lady. It's because they are exposed to much media exposure than the aforementioned. It is also because they have a greater public appeal and their lives appear to be more interesting. That is not necessarily true, but these celebrities have unknowingly become role models to a lot more people than the paper boy and as a result many people have taken an interest in their lives.    

Celebrity Examples  

Musicians have many followers on Twitter. As of when this article was written, Justin Bieber stands as the most followed celebrity in the world, also making him the most followed music artist. Nicki Minaj, a hugely popular rapper also has many, many Twitter followers.   Justin Bieber has 46 million Twitter followers and this could be the reason his last album has gone platinum in 3 countries, double platinum in two countries, triple platinum in another country and gold in 5 others.  Nicki Minaj has 17 million Twitter followers,  a lot less than Justin Bieber. Her sales seem to have the same trend but still less than Justin Bieber. She has gone only platinum in two countries, with her most recent album and gold in 3 others. It may seem she has been very successful, but when distributors such as major supermarket chains refuse to sell the album due to fear of financial loss, it can have an adverse effect on her sales. This in turn will hold her back from ever matching Justin Bieber in terms of sales.  She mentions these things in her interview 


A naive mind would assume that the amount of Twitter followers would add up to the amount of sales, whether it be concert ticket sales or album sales. This post was written just to make you, the reader see that belief from a different perspective. It was written so you could understand that there could be several factors that have affected her followers' decision to not convert her social popularity into album sales.   On the other hand in Justin Bieber's situation, the followers to sales conversion is much more of a positive one. Just like Nicki Minaj, there could be many external factors that affected his sales, although unlike Nicki Minaj, his followers may have had more of a positive effect on his sales.              

Thanks for reading this post. For constructive feedback and criticism follow me on Twitter @Allenbusiness or on Google+ / LinkdIn...Anthony Allen.