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Research released last week found that social media is one of the least popular channels for consumers to share deals, still miles behind offline word of mouth.

The reason for this isn’t that people aren’t interested in sharing on social media, but that companies aren’t making it easy or enticing enough for people to share news of their deals. Pumping out mediocre offers from a branded Twitter account alone isn’t going to work.

The research showed over 65% of respondents shared deals through word of mouth, just 30% over email and 11% on social networks (nma 29 July 2010). But if people want to tell their friends offline, they’ll want to do the same online. The key is making it as simple as speaking to your friends.

Deals can spread online, as shown by the early popularity of companies such as Groupon, or media owners like women’s portal iVillage investing in their own group-buying services. Group buying will be a key trend to watch over the next year and brands should get involved from the outset, or make it easy enough within their own channels so that people can share deals instantly.

US budget airline JetBlue’s use of Twitter’s Earlybird service is a good example. Not only does it add reach but it was offering 20% off flights, which is a decent enough offer to encourage even those not planning to fly to retweet (nma 29 July 2010).

The real-time nature of social networks also offers the opportunity for brands to be creative about their deals and capitalise on more emotional impulses. Fashion retailer ASOS does this very well. On all its social media channels it posts deals based on topical subjects, such as the weather or seasonal events, offering discounts on wellies around festival season, for example.

Twitter is a free channel so it’s being used by a lot of companies. Its low barrier to entry makes it tempting to use it to post any and every offer. Instead, brands need to provide something compelling to make a real impact.

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Published 3 August, 2010 by NMA Staff

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