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Monday, February 21, 2011

Social Marketing: The Age of Sharing Deals

With the rise of money saving deals that can easily be passed from one person to another over the Internet, social commerce has gained yet another important layer. This concept is very similar to cutting out coupons from daily newspapers, only that it is much simpler and faster.

The Age of Sharing Deals

Facebook is already the leader when it comes to social media marketing, and with the recent addition of so-called Facebook Deals to their repertoire, they have further cemented this standing.  In a nutshell, Facebook Deals allows local businesses to offer special deals through Facebook, while customers are able to claim them using Facebook on their mobiles and then showing it when they get to the store.

This is Facebook’s attempt to cash in on the concept started by Groupon, the daily deals sharing site that lets people save money by buying so-called groupons and redeeming them at local businesses and service providers.  To illustrate just how popular these new type of coupons are, an estimated $1.2 billion has already been saved by Groupon users, while almost 30 million Groupons have been bought by customers worldwide, since the company was founded in 2008. LivingSocial also offers a similar service, though, for the time being, it is only available in the US.

Another way for companies to reap the benefits of sharing deals is setting up a reward scheme for every referral made by a previous customer to their friends and family. One company businesses can turn to for this service is Extole, which offers a custom-made Refer-a-Friend program through which people can quickly and easily share a product, or service with their social network.  Cafepress.com, for example, offers a $5 reward per paying customer referred via a link on your Facebook profile, while Vistaprint.com also offers a similar reward scheme.

In addition, Newsfeeds and tweets from Company “Pages” and accounts with their inherent "read if you have time" feature are quickly replacing emails as a way to communicate special offers and deals to the public.  By default, the newsfeeds, tweets and LinkedIN status updates have built-in expiration periods and prioritization, making them ideal for communicating deals without making the loyal customers feel spammed. In addition to directly reaching the “registered” fans and followers, the newsfeeds and tweets are amenable for viral marketing by and generally do not incur a lot of extra cost for the company.

Everyone’s a Winner

This type of deals sharing is a step up from the more passive way of encouraging people to share items they like with their social networks by including a link to “Like” an item on Facebook, or a way to share the link on Twitter.  Amazon and eBay, as well as a number of other websites still use this type of social media marketing, while a good number more use coupon codes.  The latter can also easily be shared through social networking sites and the like. 

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