Retailers have been leveraging the popularity of special events to sell more goods for as long as there has been retail. The pervasiveness and immediacy of social media now presents a greater opportunity for retailers to leverage the excitement around special events. The incredible potential of leveraging social media has been highlighted with the recent 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver and by the 2010 Oscars.
What are the benefits of social media over traditional methods (print, television, radio, email) of providing special event offers and coverage?
- Social Media can quickly attract customers to deals related to special events in a timely and effective manner. In the past, retailers may leverage a small display in a store with some signage and some topical items, but that relied upon the fact that customers would have to be in the store to capture them. In email, the opportunity may be lost in the user’s inbox. With the use of a twitter feed, or a facebook update, customers that are part of the retailer community will be open to hear the connection between a special event and a retailer. Establishing the shared passion of a brand and a consumer can forge a bond for long term sales, as well as drive immediate traffic with a good posting that connects an offer with a short term special event like Canada Reads.
- Retail organizations can leverage special interest groups into sales by getting their eyes during a special event. IMDB tweeted all of the winners, and posted all of them on their start page. Followers are now one click away from the links to the winners, and all of the details, including very very soft sell links to Amazon to buy the DVDs and books. Amazon owns IMDB and it does a great job catering to a very devoted film audience and is smart enough to make it easy to buy, but not overshadow the information that film lovers get from the site.
- Social Media allows consumers to take part in a discussion where their input is appreciated, building a closer alignment with the brand.
- Social Media shows the discussion taking place – effectively customers build the dialog and the content, and retailers can look at the customer interest to build offers and adjust the brand to suit their customers interests. Sepphora Product Reviews is a great example of how that dialog can be built.
Social Media allows for quick, timely campaigns that would never happen in other media. They are very cost effective, can be timely (sent out right after a game winning goal perhaps), and don’t require extensive planning. Given the low cost of social media and the potential upside, expect a great deal more of this to take place.