Social Commerce: A closer look at the numbers

Here at Eventbrite, we are fascinated by the mechanics that drive social commerce. We carefully track sharing behavior in an effort to help event organizers tap into a new world of distribution for their event promotion. But the findings apply broadly to all eCommerce businesses, because the foundations of ecommerce are shifting as the social graph becomes a meaningful influence in driving transactions.

Effective distribution and promotion is no longer reserved for those who can afford expensive media buys. Instead, social media has leveled the playing field – allowing event attendees to become promoters by easily and effectively sharing the events that they are excited about with their friends and colleagues. Thanks to mass consumer adoption of social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, tapping into our online social graphs is virtually free. Optimizing social distribution, though, requires careful testing and study.

As we’ve said before: we believe that because events are inherently social, telling your friends about events that you care about is a natural behavior. Social media hardly invented word-of-mouth, but it provides a powerful accelerant and a means to measure its impact. That impact is what we call Social Commerce.

Social Commerce is the intersection of social media activity and eCommerce – where sharing leads to real dollars and cents, where a transaction can be traced back to a Facebook “Like” or a Tweet.

A CLOSER LOOK AT THE NUMBERS

Last October we released our first look at Eventbrite’s social commerce numbers, reporting that the average DPS (dollars per share) across all our social media platform integrations was $1.78, and Facebook shares specifically generated $2.53 in ticket sales.

Our aggregate data has remained consistent since October, but now with greater volumes of activity, we decided to take a deeper dive into the last six months of data to help understand the mechanics behind social commerce.

The point of sharing

 

People share events for many reasons: to gauge friends’ interest in attending, to show off something really cool or unique that they discovered, or to encourage others to attend with them. Depending on that motivation, people will be more or less likely to share either at the point of discovery or post purchase.

On our event pages, users want to share before they’ve made a commitment to purchase a ticket or attend an event. To support that initial, exploratory behavior we feature the Facebook “Like” button, the lowest-friction social sharing tool on the web. On our order confirmation pages, we integrated the higher-friction but stronger “Publish to Facebook” tool. It requires more work from the user to share than with a Facebook “Like,” but this is what we’ve discovered:

  • Over the last six months, 40% of sharing through Facebook occurred on the event page (pre-purchase) vs. 60% of sharing which occurred on the order confirmation page (post-purchase). This tells us that the motivation to share is higher once the purchase is made and the attendee is committed.
  • To further underline this point, our BSR (browsing share rate), is 1% — meaning that of the people who look at an event page before purchasing a ticket, 1% of them share that event. Conversely, our TSR (transcation share rate) is 10%, which means 10 times more people share an event from the order confirmation page.
  • Not only is the motivation to share post-purchase higher, that share is more meaningful than a pre-purchase one. A post-purchase share on Facebook drives 20% more ticket sales per share than a pre-purchase one.

The sharing channel: FB vs. Twitter

In our first report, we noted that there was a meaningful difference between social media platforms and their propensity to drive social commerce. We decided to take a closer look:

  • Over the last six months, sharing activity on Facebook equaled almost 4 times the amount of sharing on Twitter.  We attribute this to Facebook’s reach (right now there are simply more people that use Facebook than Twitter) and the fact that connections on Facebook more closely mirror real-world, personal relationships.
  • The disparity between Facebook and Twitter is also highlighted in the raw dollars generated per share. We offer and track multiple types of Facebook sharing options including “Likes,” wall posts (stream publish), and publishing to a Facebook Page or Event. A Facebook “Like” (the closest comparison to a tweet) drives on average $1.34 in ticket sales, compared with a tweet that drives on average $.80. We’ve also seen the value of the Facebook “Like” steadily increase as adoption of it has taken off. Facebook has recently changed the way “Likes” display in the news feed, and we’ll be watching closely to see the impact of this new formatting on dollars per “Like.”

Sharing by event type: not all events are created equal

When we looked at sharing activity and impact by type of event, we found that both propensity to share and dollars per share varied more than we expected:

  • Networking events had the highest share rate, followed by business events and conferences and seminars.
  • When we look at dollars per share by type of event, though, we find that shares are most valuable for music events and concerts, at over $12 per share. Next most valuable are shares for fundraisers, social events and mixers, and food/wine events. When we look at the bottom line of social commerce, it’s social events that represent the highest DPS. So while people are more likely to share business-related events, sharing information about social events drives the most sales.

As we continue to learn more about how social media drives real transactions, we will share what we learn with the community. We’re big believers in the power of social media and its promise to disrupt stagnant industries. But it’s not blind faith; the truth is in the numbers.

METHODOLOGY

We use a custom suite of social analytics tools that we have developed entirely in-house. Our reporting lets us track and analyze not only which sharing options our users leverage, but where on our site each share action takes place. These tools also tie back into our conversion funnels, so we are able to attribute ticket purchases to the specific social distribution channel that drove them. So, for example, we can compare not just the value created by a Facebook “Like” vs. a tweet, but also the performance of shares initiated before or after a purchase.

For the purposes of this report, Eventbrite defines social commerce as transactions that are driven through sharing on social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and through email sharing via the Eventbrite “email friends” application.

We are tracking a new set of metrics that measure social commerce success and are excited to share them with the industry. In doing so we hope to spark conversation and begin to set standards and benchmarks around this new marketing channel.