Retailers Get the Gift of Social Media for the Holidays

December 17, 2010

Savvy retailers this holiday season are taking advantage of the millions of consumers now using social media on a daily basis.

The most innovative brands are seeing their brick-and-mortar and online sales increase and brand affinity rise as they use Facebook, Twitter, Groupon, Foursquare, and more to reach their best customers, who in turn spread news of in-store events, featured deals and sharp discounts to their networks.

So how can savvy retailers use social media to best effect?

Chris Dessi, managing partner and social media expert at Drive Action Digital points out that 500 million people are on Facebook and 50 percent of them log in daily and stay there, basically using Facebook as their Internet; a contained ecosystem.

“Facebook, Twitter, Groupon have been enhancing everything happening online,” Dessi says. “So smart retailers will be going (with exclusive offers, customer-loyalty, and brand-affinity strategies) to where their customers are already spending a lot of time.

“Anyone from big box stores like Walmart and Staples to mom-and-pops can post special discounts just for their Facebook followers. Retailers can also employ strategies for consumers to generate their own content like making a video for Youtube or posting a blog about how they use a certain product and what’s great about it. Then, they link to that video or blog on their Facebook account. I think Facebook offers a real threat to Google because people trust their friends and acquaintances much more than an  algorithm.”

Dessi continues, “Twitter is very keyword-oriented and offers a tremendous reach for retailers, even though it’s only 140 characters. Consumers can go to Twitter.com and type in ‘digital camera,’ for example, and get links posted by company or individual. The retailers can embed coupon codes in the links and track the activity to know exactly what promos are working.”

And for brick-and-mortar retailers committed to increasing their store traffic, the ascent of smartphones is a potential goldmine of store traffic. For instance, Sports Authority offered a tremendous Black Friday effort via Foursquare. “Sports Authority gave away $500 gift certificates randomly. If you checked in on Foursquare while you were in a Sports Authority store, you effectively entered yourself in a contest, but you had to stay in the store to see if you won because they announced the winner over the PA. You then had 10 minutes to claim your prize.”

The advice for retailers looking to leverage social media efforts this holiday season: open your doors earlier, stay open later, and offer more specials and discounts to your social-media loving customers who are, after all, armed with more product reviews, price comparisons, and deal-finding software than any before them.

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