786 referrals to buy gift vouchers were passed from an Irish hotel Facebook page to the hotel website during the busy Christmas period, yet not one of these visitors purchased a gift voucher. What did they do? They entered a competition to win yet more free stuff.

What makes the story more interesting is that the hotel has approximately 20,000 ‘likes’ on Facebook. They have taken great care to nurture the relationship with their fans but still, Facebook only accounts for 0.8% of their total monthly traffic and around 0.01% of their e-commerce, according to their Google Analytics.

So should the hotel stop using social media? No – they simply have to understand that Social helps build their brand and increase word of mouth referrals. When we look at what drives the most traffic and sales to the hotel website it’s branded search. So while social doesn’t help in direct sales it does contribute, in a small way to building indirect sales by spreading the word about the hotel and causing people to Google the brand name. Put in context however the hotel spends way too much time on Social Media when it should be outsourcing Online PR.

A two hour a week fitness programme for kids in Dublin has 1200 followers on Facebook. It sells 300 slots a week most of its sales generated by social media, yet the owner of the franchise spends around 2 hours per week on this channel. Mums just love to talk about how excited their kids are about the programme and what mum would wish to deprive their kids of the latest, healthy, low cost trend that’s cheaper than a baby sitter?

The primary difference between the business success using social media is not that one is better at Facebooking than the other business, it’s that the kids fitness programme has CONTEXT with the audience, it’s riding a trend and it a part of the social fabric of life. Contrary to popular belief Social Media is not a suitable channel for all businesses. In fact it only works well for a few.

Are your digital marketing efforts paying off? How do you know? If you need help understanding what makes you money, drives your sales and how to improve your digital strategy then give Niall a call on 028 9045 5911