Social sites drive sales this holiday season

This holiday season, a cross-section of retailers are increasingly turning to social sites like Facebook and Twitter to help people find and deliver their desired gifts. For example, big brands including Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Macy’s widely publicized their special Black Friday deals to their keen Facebook fans.

On the other hand, Amazon, Toys R Us and Target among others ran interesting contests, flash sales or giveaways to tempt prospects into ‘liking’ their products. Lowe’s, a known Hardware chain, had a promotion that resembled ‘American Idol’-style. In it, fans were asked to vote on specific things to be discounted, whereas Best Buy came up with an event page and got close to 28,000 people to RSVP for Black Friday as ‘attending’.

Shopping via Facebook

A senior retail & apparel analyst, Alison Lipson, was quoted as saying in a media report that the incentive for a lot of retailers was the fans getting exclusive information or some content such as a preview of the Black Friday-centric ad or a chance to win a gift card. Shopping site Nextag observed that nearly 5 percent of the shopping for Black Friday took place exclusively via Facebook. It also does offer companies an advantage over static sites and/or e-mail marketing.

The vice president of marketing at comScore, Andrew Lipsman, points out that it confers a unique element of trust and persuasion of a reliable friend. According to him, if one thinks about today’s media environment, there are so many different messages floating around, and any of them giving an extra reason in order to pay attention is important. CashStar is a company that provides necessary technology for digital gift certificates. Its CEO and cofounder David Stone feels that the last few years have probably been the toughest for retail in a generation, sites likes Facebook come as a succor.

Social media campaigns boost retailers

The social media sites serve as two-way channels to let like-minded users connect and talk. This is a real bright, big spot this year for retailers, if the expert is to be believed. According to Stone, about two dozen of his retail clients like Groupon allow customers to dispatch e-gifts to a friend’s Facebook wall.

A gift certificate dispatched via e-mail is viewed only by its recipient in isolation. Conversely, one marked to a person’s Facebook wall can easily be seen by a wide circle of friends. In effect, creating the viral impact is what you should think about. In a comScore study of Facebook fans of Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target, it was found that they spent almost 40 to 50 percent extra time in the stores than ‘non-fans’.

Also, friends of fans lingered around for an average of 15 to 20 percent more time period than the ‘non-fans’.Some call this a canny usage of the ripple effect of social media, and rightly so.