SMM for eCommerce: Effort Justification or Objective Value?

Valerie Lavskaya
9 min readApr 2, 2019


Almost every respectful marketing blog shows us how huge the social media market is: how it’s essential to obtain the attention of millions of users who are your potentials right now, how long — 2 hours and 15 min — these people use different social media, and how it’s important to build a precise SMM strategy. Basically, they are right. But are the most popular British online stores following their advice and if this market is attractive in terms of income for them?

The idea of “Effort Justification” appeared in 1957 when Leon Festinger published his Cognitive Dissonance Theory. This social psychology paradigm explains the person’s tendency to ascribe a higher value to an outcome, which they had to put effort into achieving, than its objective value. In other words, this means that people sometimes come to love what they suffer to attain.

Analyzing the publicly available data of the most visited online stores in the UK, it was noticed that all retailers publish (sometimes) hundreds of unique posts per month in each social media profile, but the results are not as optimistic as we want them to be.

In this article, I want to demonstrate some of my findings to make you give thought to what particular goals you need to set for your social marketing channel not to be disappointed with the statistics outcomes.


To analyze the social presence of 48 online stores within four different niches, I examined their number of subscribers, posts frequency, and checked their traffic to sites on SimilarWeb. Separately, I wanted to find out what goals they pursued; thus I tracked if they used product feed on Facebook and Instagram. A noteworthy detail is that some of the analyzed resources are international, and some are local. The full list you can find in the report.

British ecommerce produces tons of content for social media

Online stores create up to 168 Facebook posts per month

The dispute over posting frequency is endless. According to the Buffer blog report, the overall number of posts per day on Facebook increased by 24% over last year, but at the same time, the engagement decreased almost twice. They deduced that 5 post per day is optimal for business pages this year. In the meantime, Meltwater advises businesses to have a large audience to post twice a day or less.

The theory is different from reality. On average, the most popular UK stores publish 36 posts per month. Within each particular niche, the numbers are non-identical.

Thus, the analyzed Fashion stores refresh their news feed on median 49 times per month (from 12 to 136 posts depending on the brand). With that, local brands publish considerably more often than global companies.

The cosmetics stores update their business profiles 29 times per month on median (from 5 to 89 posts depending on the brand).

The median number of baby stores’ posts per month is 44 (from 4 to 168). Their indicators are the highest among the analyzed categories.

And finally, the consumer electronics store publish 29 posts every month (from 5 to 89 updates) which is the lowest index among all segments.

E-retailers publish up to 147 posts on Instagram

Social Buddy recommended creating 1–2 Instagram posts every day to maintain proper engagement. Fashion brands are slightly exceeding this norm, adding on average 85 photos every month (from 49 to 147). This is interesting to note that like on Facebook, local brands prefer to post more often than global stores. However, engagement of local British brands depends more on the number of followers than on the post frequency.

Cosmetics post from 18 to 115 IGM photos each month and baby stores — from 4 to 36.

Along with that, not every consumer electronics store has an Instagram profile. And those who have, update their feeds from 1 to 24 times each month which is the lowest indicator among all analyzed ecommerce niches.

Online shops upload up to 415 YouTube videos a month

Even though only 62% of businesses indicated YouTube as a social network they currently post their video content on, this channel is becoming extremely interesting for ecommerce, and you will find out why a bit later in this article.

I learned that YouTube is used by all the popular United Kingdom online stores which cannot be said for Instagram or Twitter. Fashion brands upload on this platform from 1 up to 10 videos each month. Consumer electronics — from 1 to 12 video posts. However, some shops, such as, use YouTube as cloud storage for website videos, so that up to 415 videos may appear on their channel over one month. Baby stores upload from 1 to 12 videos per month. And cosmetics companies — from 2 to 16 videos every 30 days.

Ecommerce composes up to 196 tweets per month

Twitter requires a substantial number of tweets since the average tweet’s lifetime value is only 18 minutes. If you won’t or cannot post frequently — you won’t be noticed. Meltwater suggests composing at least 10 tweets per day (which means up to 300 posts a month). Let’s observe the real picture.

Fashion stores compose 68 tweets every week on median. Moreover, someone reaches the number of 172 tweets per 30 days. Cosmetics shops tweet on average 98 times per week — 3–4 times a day. Baby stores update their Twitter profile 47 times each month. The Twitter posting frequency of Consumer electronics stores — 1 tweet a day which is the lowest indicator among all analyzed categories.

Content strategies for different social networks are forced to cross

There is no point denying that each social network has its audience specifics. The arguments for this we can find in the last social media demographics by Sproutsocial. They revealed that their regular users significantly differ not only by age but also by education, place of living and income level.

However, most popular online stores duplicate their content entirely or partially on different social websites for their audiences who may overlap.

Duplicate content may adversely affect on the brand’s image. This indicates that the company does not consider SMM as an essential marketing channel. The only thing this demonstrates is that frequent posting makes users who follow the business page, or those who wanted to check a brand’s presence after visiting their website, believe that this shop exists.

“Cross-posting can tire your customers. If you expect to reach a wider audience in such a way — you are mistaken. Contrarily, you need to “grow” your audience in each social network and post there that kind of content, that users wait to see.

Alissa Mironenko, SMM expert at Promodo Digital Agency

Along with that, separately elaborated strategies for different social networks can significantly increase engagement, boost traffic to websites and gain conversions. Social giants like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram now spend millions to convert their sites into marketplaces. But do all the most successful British online stores use these “privileges”?

Only 1 out of 7 electronics stores uses product feeds on Facebook and Instagram

The ability to sell via Facebook appeared back in 2016, and Instagram shop tags were launched in the UK in March 2018. Along with this, we found out that by far not every ecommerce website who has a Facebook or Instagram profile uses these features designed to help businesses.

Thus, only 5 out of 7 fashion stores have a product feed on Facebook, and all of them have shopping tags on Instagram — this is the best indicators among all analyzed niches.

The worst results are from consumer electronics stores have. Only 1 out of 7 retailers has uploaded their products on Facebook, and also one brand — on Instagram.

Along with that, almost every store runs their ad campaigns on Facebook. These are product canvases, video campaigns, or carousels with site images.

Focusing on one social network, online stores receive more traffic from another

Let’s go back to the Cognitive dissonance theory and check how much traffic do each of the online stores receive from social networks according to the publicly available data.

As was revealed, the Cosmetics niche has the largest average social traffic share — 9.15%. Apparel ranks second; their social traffic is 3.94%. Baby stores receive from social media marketing about 2.63% of all site traffic, and consumer electronics e-retailers — 2.12%. As we can see, the share is minor.

Even more exciting thing is that social media activity is inconsistent with traffic volume shares, which means that sites receive more traffic from those networks that they do not pay much attention to.

Thus, fashion retail sites receive the most traffic from Facebook and YouTube. However, they publish the highest volume of content on Instagram and Twitter.

YouTube is the leading traffic-generating social media channel for cosmetics stores. It gains over 48% of all social traffic and has the lowest share of all content volume they upload.

Focusing on Twitter and Facebook, baby stores also have the most traffic from Facebook and YouTube. It’s worth to note that this ecommerce segment allocates their SMM strength the most prudent.

Consumer electronics brand has the highest posting frequency on Twitter and Facebook. Along with that, posting only 4 videos per month, they receive 45.3% of all social traffic from YouTube.


As we can see, almost all ecommerce sites direct their efforts toward those social networks that don’t boost traffic to their sites. This may indicate the fact, that their main SMM goal is to increase brand awareness and maintain brand presence in these channels. I also revealed that the largest volumes of social traffic they receive from Facebook and YouTube. Probably, this is due to the fact that almost all stores create a Facebook product feed with direct links to their product site pages. In turn, I noticed that they widely collaborate with YouTube bloggers to promote their products via their own channels. Finally, in such a way brands save their SMM managers time and budgets on capturing new video content.

Along with that, we can’t check their association traffic from all social media channels. Perhaps, users go to their sites directly or from organic search results to make purchases after they have seen some posts about special offers or new supplies on social media.

The share of social traffic within the overall traffic volume is weak. Many digital marketers still do not consider this channel as profitable, although ecommerce features are implemented there more and more often. The volume of content created by stores is impressive when the results are not. Is this not the “Effort Justification” Festinger described more than half a century ago? Online stores attribute a greater value to an outcome they may never achieve. However, creating separate SMM strategies and setting different goals for different networks can easily resolve this issue, “recover” from useless duplicate content and convert social media into full-edge sales channels for ecommerce websites.