How Retailers Can Leverage Social Media For A Successful Black Friday

November 7, 2012

Strap in, let’s go. Black Friday, the biggest day of the year for retail, is upon us. The retail environment is becoming noisier and more competitive as it seems the holidays are starting earlier each year. I noticed full out Christmas displays in Macy’s, Ace Hardware, and other stores as early as mid-October. Radio Shack’s Black Friday insert has already leaked on the popular Black Friday Deal site with more to follow. Brands can break through the noise and ensure shoppers have a happy experience on Black Friday by fully employing the social and digital channels. Here’s how.

Shoppers are comparing in-store prices online and you can’t stop it.

The earlier Black Friday Deals leak, the more time shoppers will have to compare prices online. And, let’s not forget they are standing there doing it in the store too using mobile apps like Amazon’s Price Check. Amazon’s app was famously blamed last year for Best Buy’s declining popularity. We could argue Best Buy is to blame for Best Buy’s decline, but that’s another discussion… The “best” thing you can do for customers in lieu of price matching is to make them feel good about buying from you. Customer experience is important in our highly competitive environment and brands are winning through great service that builds loyalty over price slashing.

How you can turn Black Friday into a loyalty play. 

Black Friday is a free for all to discount shoppers. And, we all know that they often hit up the sale never to return, offering less lifetime customer value than the average consumer. This year Target leaked early preview of their Black Friday sale to Facebook Fans on Nov. 8th. Well played Targé.

Here’s how to leverage your loyal online followers to bring them exclusivity to the forefront:

  • Create a VIP Facebook shopping app (like Target!) with exclusive Black Friday deals available only to those who’ve liked your brand page.
  • Exclusive, highly competitive, Twitter coupon code announced only to followers.
  • Leak Black Friday deal info early to your email list or Facebook page allowing them early preview. In 2011, Wal-Mart leaked deals on its Facebook page two weeks before Black Friday.
  • Have a brand ambassador program? Allow your brand’s bloggers and top customers first in line privileges or early in-store shopping access.
  • Provide your loyalty program folks with a “thank you gift” in the amount of a small gift certificate to kick off Black Friday shopping at their favorite store. Yours! This will help combat price shopping other retailers and bring on the feel good vibe that keeps them coming back to yours.
  • Treat people well and reward them for being loyal, it’s pretty simple.

 

More and more people want to shop Black Friday online. Cyber Monday is anti-climatic.

Shoppers are getting smarter. We know we get the best deals on Black Friday. On the other hand, many of us do not want to leave our family on the Thanksgiving holiday to stand in long lines in a store full of stressed, angry customers.

Two years ago I decided I wouldn’t participate in Black Friday lines and instead opened up my laptop to check out the online deals. Starting with Twitter. There were crickets. So I wrote “Where’s the Black Friday deals?” A small clothing boutique Tweeted me with a killer coupon code and I ended up spending $150. I’d never have thought to shop there otherwise and my boyfriend is such a big fan of their shirts he’s purchased several more since. The following day I checked Cyber Monday deals and they paled in comparison.

Lesson, the power of people engaging people online paired with activating Black Friday shopping online shopping is a missed opportunity for many retailers. Leverage it! The following year I looked for Black Friday deals on Twitter from one of my favorite stores Banana Republic.  So were others and their Twitter discount code took down the site down within minutes. A nice problem to have in a recession no?

What happens on the ground is shared online.

Staff up experienced community managers on your social channels for Black Friday and be sure your brand is listening. It’s as important as staffing your store and customer service lines for the rush. ‘Nough said.

Help create a safe and friendly shopping environment with real time announcements.

There is a myth that Black Friday shopping is a dangerous sport. After venturing into a Wal-Mart at midnight a year back I can support that theory. If not physically it’s arguably dangerous to your psyche! Lines, crazed shoppers, unrealized door buster deals and that angry fat grandma glaring at you who has all ten of them in her basket… she just dares you to touch one. They call them door busters for a reason. People are literally busting through the doors to get some of these deals and it springs up in the news every year making us wonder, “Why do we do this?”

If you have a brick n’ mortar that will inevitably be throwing a door buster event social media is your best friend. Here are a few ways to ease the process for your employees and customers:

  • Closely monitor location based services Foursquare and Facebook places check-ins, Instgram and Twitter.
  • Make real time announcements about important things to customers waiting in line such as process, wait time, countdown to opening, etc. Twitter is an ideal channel for this type of communication.
  • Use Twitter hashtags per store to segment real time news relevant to each location.
  • Provide some form of entertainment and engagement for those in line or at home. Mobile apps, games or live chats on social media can add to the happiness factor and make people less aggressive.
  • Once the doors open, make store and Twitter announcements when door buster teaser deals are sold out. There’s nothing more disappointing than making your way across the store, it can take a good 30 minutes, to find your deal is gone.
  • Provide an interactive map on where to find deals in your store, where it’s crowded, and how to check out quickly. Part of what causes the mayhem is locating the deals and bottlenecked areas of the store. Plus, there’s the potential for the new holiday help not being so helpful to customers because they’re clueless about which product it is exactly or it’s location. Happened to me last year at Wal-Mart. There’s an app for that whether in the form of live in-store touchscreen displays, smartphone app, or simple Twitter announcements.

Black Friday is a big day for brands and shoppers. Social media, web and mobile channels can help make it a safe, happy shopping day for everyone. And, win you new and loyal customers.  Wishing you all a successful one!

 

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