One Blog |May 29, 2012 | POS Tracking Software

Is Paid Social Media a Good Use of Your POS Marketing Budget?

Mark Fullerton

I have not been an advocate of corporate sponsored social media participation — especially for relatively inexpensive items such as a 6-pack of beer, or a bottle of wine or spirit.

I was starting to wonder if I just didn’t get it, but it's become nearly impossible to miss the phrases “Follow us on Twitter” or, “Like us on Facebook.”  

Social Media for Expensive Items

My thought, regarding paid Facebook pages, is that they would probably be most useful for very expensive items, those typically requiring pre-purchase research and planning. Like big screen TV’s, riding lawn mowers or cars.

But just as Facebook was going public, GM decided to pull its paid participation from Facebook.  According to USA Today, “GM spokesman Tom Henderson wouldn't disclose what factors led to that decision.” And, The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources, said “GM executives thought Facebook ads had little effect on consumer car purchases.”

Finally, someone has come out and said it — social media ads, specifically Facebook in this case — don’t persuade consumers to buy cars. Of course I wonder, even if Facebook was effective at helping sell cars, how would GM ever know?  There’s only a very casual relationship between a Facebook ad and the sale of a new Buick, since there is really no way to measure the sales impact of the Facebook post. About the best thing that could be hoped for is that X number of visitors to the Buick Facebook page occurred last month and perhaps there was an uptick in the sales of new Regals as a result.

Social Media for Inexpensive Items

I would think, on the other hand, that relatively inexpensive items like beverage alcohol products or other, non-alcohol beverages would find little to gain from paid Facebook participation. I mean who is really going to research a beer, wine or spirit and then recall what they learned while they are in the aisle or on the bar-stool, and as a result, convert from shopper to buyer?

Have you ever taken the time to visit, let alone begin following the MillerCoors’ Facebook page?  As you might expect, their pages are little more than electronic advertisements.

Not many folks will even remember there was a new MillerCoors beer, and that they first learned about it on Facebook. What is more likely to happen is as follows:

  • At a retail location, a shopper sees a point-of-sale (POS) sign announcing the new beer, Colorado Native.
  • The shopper pauses to read the sign, and in a matter of seconds decides to pick up or pass on “Native.” 
  • Perhaps, this shopper actually does spend time on MillerCoors’ Facebook page, and the tie-in between that and the POS sign triggered the buying behavior — perhaps.


The only conclusion I can arrive at is this:

  • POS promotions work (especially for beverages of all types)
  • POS works for products promoted on Facebook and Twitter
  • POS works if the products are not promoted on Facebook and Twitter

The difference is, the effectiveness of POS promotions can be tracked, measured and managed. The same cannot be said for paid social media campaigns — they might work, they might not, there’s just no way to tell.

With respect to a marketing budget: Given the choice to use paid social media alone, or POS promotions alone, or paid social media plus POS promotions in combination, I would opt to include both in my marketing budget and enjoy the increased sales lift.

To learn more about how OnTrak solutions track, measure and manage POS Promotions click here:


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