Did Social Media Save Black Friday?

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Black Friday has come and gone, and so too has the constant flow of tweets, status updates, and blog entries exhorting us to “take advantage of special savings!” Experts predicted that purchasing would be cialis online pharmacy down, but spending was actually up 0.5% from last year.  According to the Wall Street Journal, people spent about 10.66 billion dollars on Black Friday. Do retailers have social media to thank for helping Black Friday endure despite the recession?

While it’s hard to determine what impact social media had in terms of actual sales, it’s apparent that a lot of the major players (such as Office Max, Target, and Old Navy) put their faith in Twitter and Facebook to spread the word about their Black Friday deals. With advertising budgets hurting due to the economy, social media provided a cheap way for companies to reach a lot of people.

Consumers responded to this corporate outreach by visiting a whole slew of new blogs that cropped up. With names like Black Friday Ads and My Black Friday Deals, these blogs kept people (perhaps obsessively) up-to-date on retailers’ latest savings offers.

According to one pre-Thanksgiving survey, 1 in 5 shoppers planned to consult social media to find the best bargains.

If businesses really did reach 20% of their potential customers through social media, this was money well spent. Having a person or small team to manage your Twitter and Facebook is going to be a heck of a lot less expensive than the money spent running ads in hundreds newspapers and websites.

The excitement was so great, that even the mainstream media picked up on the story. A few weeks before thanksgiving, ABC News encouraged readers to check Facebook and Twitter before heading out into the fray.

What About Next Year?

I think retailers will learn from this experience and continue to refine the way they use social media to interact with consumers. And if shoppers had a good experience using social media this year, the word will likely spread and make next year even bigger.

In the meantime, retailers now have their social media hooks stuck in shoppers. They can continue to capitalize on new Twitter followers and Facebook fans by keeping people aware of new sales.

In the old days, stores used to promise to “match or beat any price,” if you brought in a valid coupon proving another store was selling a product for less. I wonder if things are changing. Maybe we’re heading towards the day when retailers will be saying, “We’ll beat any tweet.”

aaron

Aaron Couch is strategic communications graduate student at the University of Kansas. He’s also a freelance writer, with experience writing and designing press releases, as well as planning publicity campaigns.

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