The Curious Case of Social Media Not Selling Products

Charlie Sheen and Lord Voldemort have been hot trending topics on twitter. Products with a tie-in to these subjects were marketed in 2011 and I analyzed the data to understand the outcome. Millions of people saw the funny t-shirts, over 150,000 people clicked through to the buy now page, yet almost nobody bought it. What causes something so entertaining not to convert to sales?

Standard ecommerce metrics are that 2% of visitors convert to sales. If this was the case we would see a sales north of 3000 shirts for the traffic generated through twitter marketing. The twitter accounts used are in the top 99.99% of all tweeters as monitored by

The products offered were not relevant to the audience that clicked to find out more. Relevancy is the number one reason a product resonates with the consumer or not. The product must fulfill a need and desire that matches the sensibility of the buyer. There has been a dramatic trend in popular culture of people enjoying the entertainment of Winning or Tiger Blood, but not participating with their wallets.

The actual statistics on views and sales were as follows:

Charlie Sheen Shirt

  • 47,606 actual product page views from Twitter over 3 days
  • 77 sales in 3 days
  • Conversion rate .16% vs. 2.33% conversion on all other products on site

Lord Voldemort Shirt

  • 119,057 actual product page views via Twitter posts over 3 days to 1,000,000+ followers
  • 9 sales in 3 days
  • Conversion rate approximately 0 vs. 2.12% conversion on all other products on same site

Conclusion: The offer has to be relevant to the viewer, and not just entertaining in reference to popular culture. The product has to represent how the buyer wants to be seen by others, and how they view their “most perfect” selves.