This holiday season, traditional media has been swept aside in favor of tweets and friends or, at least, used in combination. Shoppers will go after deals, online and off. It’s no surprise to see how businesses have taken advantage of social media channels to promote specials.
With the economy weighing down consumers this holiday season, retailers have prepared for a decline in sales in the coming month. Even though households may not be bursting with expensive gadgets and large packages this year, gifts will still be purchased and exchanged.
Marketers use social media a great deal; however, sometimes, it is difficult to quantify the results. Depending on who you speak with, the profit generated by social media is either hidden because the consumer doesn’t generally make a purchase through the social media channels directly or because the brand loyalty or brand recognition effect is often strongest but not necessarily translated into immediate purchases.
Black Friday and Cyber Monday start the busiest shopping days of the year and a big social media experiment of sorts is going on and retailers will have an affair to remember. Several major retailers made significant Black Friday/Cyber Monday investments on a number of social media channels, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, in anticipation of a whirlwind of activity.
Retailers Taking Advantage of Social Media
Businesses with active social media profiles should make use of those profiles when luring shoppers to their online carts or traditional stores. At the same time, other social networks can also prove useful. The key to successfully using social media to stimulate sales is to maintain a high level of activity and sociability. As people ask questions or leave messages on the various social media channels, you should respond promptly and provide links to your sites whenever possible. It may not be necessary to provide sales information via social networks, but it is important to make sure that the messages stay visible.
Consumers Taking Advantage of Social Media
If you are a savvy online shopper, you are most likely following all of the retailers that you patronize the most and have subscribed to all of the right mailing lists and forums. However, social media can still optimize your shopping experience.
If you are aware of a particular store in your area and are considering shopping there for a gift card or some other item, social media can prove useful in helping you to make up your mind.
Searching for an item that you wish to purchase for a friend or relative can yield information that is helpful in your search for the best deal.
Smart phones have the extra boost this year of specialized apps available to assist in hunting the best sales. Coupon Sherpa, a website known for providing sales codes for online carts, allows smart phone users to download coupons that are accepted simply by showing the cashier the phone screen.
Another way to have the deals sent directly to you is by following the Twitter feeds dedicated to finding Cyber Monday’s best deals. CyberMonday.com and Dealighted.com both provide nice feeds with frequently updated information and links to coupons.
Many retailers are using their Facebook pages to announce Cyber Monday deals early, so it might be worthwhile to join some new fan pages to get a head start.
Website aggregators let you search through deals from various stores by product category and price range.
Social media works very well as a marketing tool when you truly have something worth marketing. Regular prices don’t work people into a fury as they did in the past and the value of social media as a contact point should never be taken for granted by retailers.
Social media influences consumers in short bursts with incredibly high density or volume. Social media, when used strategically, has profound value. Merely having a fan page or a twitter account isn’t necessarily going to drive people to your store but some of the creative uses of social media that have been discussed here are good examples that work effectively in the business cycle. Large companies are finding ways to use social media to quantify their return on investment (ROI), which silences a lot of critics in the process.
This holiday season, pay close attention to your social feeds for the best shopping deals and see how social media can save you money.
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Michael Cohn is the founder and Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of CompuKol Communications LLC. He has over 25 years of experience in IT and web technologies.
Mr. Cohn founded CompuKol Communications to help small businesses and entrepreneurs increase their exposure and reputation on the Internet. CompuKol consults, creates, and implements communication strategies for small businesses to monopolize their markets with a unique business voice, vision, and visibility.
Prior to that, Mr. Cohn spent a significant amount of time at a major telecommunications company, where his main focus was on initiating and leading synergy efforts across all business units by dramatically improving efficiency, online collaboration, and the company’s Intranet capabilities, which accelerated gains in business productivity. His expertise includes social media marketing strategies; internet marketing; web presence design; business analysis; project management; management of global cross-matrix teams; systems engineering and analysis, architecture, prototyping and integration; technology evaluation and assessment; systems development; performance evaluation; and management of off-shore development.
Mr. Cohn earned a Master’s degree in project management from George Washington University in Washington, DC; and a Master’s degree in computer science and a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, NJ.