How Social Media Influencers Drive Sales


Every CEO knows that his or her company should be on social media — but what exactly should they be doing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram?

Every CEO knows that his or her company should be on social media — but what exactly should they be doing on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram? A recent study by professors from MIT Sloan and the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management shows that companies who use social media, particularly Twitter, see a positive impact on sales. More specifically, television networks and media companies that post tweets about their shows see a 77% increase in viewership. Considering it costs nothing to post a tweet, that’s a free 77% added to their audience! But a company’s social media success rests on more than its own activities.


According to the June 2014 report, “influential retweets are more effective than company tweets for bringing in new followers.” If you run the social media pages for your company, then you might post a Tweet and gain a few new followers. But this quote means that your social media following increases at a greater rate when influential figures retweet your content to their following. An influential person on social media isn’t necessarily a celebrity, but is someone who actively engages his or her social media following by sharing interesting stories and ideas online. Influencers are more effective than traditional advertisements because they provide word of mouth recommendations that are better trusted by their following.


To back up their claims, the report’s authors selected 98 television shows to analyze. They then ran a recruitment campaign to find influencers to tweet about these shows. “We deliberatively avoided recruiting actual celebrities for two reasons. First, any effect of their tweets on show viewing may be attributed to their celebrity status. Second, their tweets often attract the attention of other media outlets. If these media outlets in turn feature a celebrity’s retweet of a show, they essentially engage in secondary promotion of the show.” After recruiting their influencers, the experiment went as follows:


  1. The social media team responsible for the network or television show would tweet an update regarding the show to its own page.

  2. Influencers who had been recruited into the show’s social media following would retweet the update to their following.

  3. The experimenters analyzed these shows against a control group which did not have an influencer program in place, but only used tweets from the companies’ pages.


The experiment showed that once an influencer retweeted an update, the show’s viewership increased by an additional 33%, meaning the television show would see the initial 77% increase from tweeting in the first place and an additional boost from the retweet. Of course, this model can be applied to other industries: companies such as Perdue Chicken and AARP have been using social media influencer campaigns to boost their revenues as well.

Having influencers share a company’s social media content not only increases its social media engagement, but boosts its revenue too. If you’re interested in organizing such a campaign for your company, feel free to check out SocialToaster’s unique fan ambassador programs today.

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