After reviewing the survey results, we have prepared some charts to summarize the findings. Scroll down to see: • Which social media platforms are favored by retailers ? • Which types of social media are effective (or not) at raising sales ? • Are any platforms likely to be used more in the near future ? • And more! Q. #1: In general, over the past couple of years, how has your use of promotional tools changed? What is increasing? What the experts call 'earned digital media:' social media, e-mail, and websites/blogs. And which promotional tools have declined in usage by retailers? Print advertising is the biggest loser. But, pay-per-click ads (such as Google ads) and direct mail receive plenty of Do Not Use/Have Never Used votes. Seems like many retailers have subscribed to the 'Location. Location. Location' mantra, counting on foot traffic. Q. #2: Now, about Social Media. If you are using it for your stores, which platforms do you use? Facebook is by far the most popular platform among retailers, being used by 97% of all the survey respondents! The use of Instagram has surged! And that seems to be at the expense of Pinterest , which has declined from 1 in 3 respondents in 2015 to 1 in 4 in 2017. Q. #3: Of each Social Media platform you do use, how long have you been using it? Once again, Facebook is the runaway 'winner' in terms of longevity among users. Instagram and Pinterest seem to be attracting the most new usage by retailers. Q. #4: Key Question: Of the Social Media you use, how has it INFLUENCED SALES? Again, Facebook is 'the winner'. 82% of the retailers who use Facebook report it 'Seems worthwhile' or is 'Very Positive!' That likely explains why 97% of the retailers who responded are using/continuing to use Facebook. Instagram is rated useful by nearly 3/4ths of the respondents. Overall, there seems to be high satisfaction with the benefits of social media . The comments offered reflected the difficulty of attributing increased sales to any one promotional effort. Moreover, a given platform's effectiveness at influencing sales will be a function of how each one is used. If social media is being used, for instance, to build awareness or to stimulate word-of-mouth advertising , then its influence on sales is indirect at best. Additionally, as these social media platforms have experienced tremendous growth, the opportunity to gain visibility and/or a competitive advantage has been diminished. Q. #5: Have you used any of the ADVERTISING PROGRAMS that are available on these platforms? Of the retailers who use these social media platforms, there is a high degree of participation in the paid advertising programs, especially on Facebook (68%) and Instagram (35%). And among those who are not already active advertisers, more than 1 in 4 anticipate starting soon. Q. #6: And finally, just a bit about your stores. How many do you have now? Sure enough, the survey respondents are 'representative' of the independent retailer community at large: about 1/3rd are multi-store operators. What does it mean? Granted, retail sales are affected by a host of influences. The effectiveness of social media, like all promotional tools, is not limited to whether or not it raises sales. But, survival in retail DOES require selling. And given all the other demands of owning and operating retail businesses, retailers must improve productivity – of your advertising, your inventory, your employees, your stores, etc – whenever and wherever you can. Shouldn't it all be working hard? And effectively?