My generation grew up bombarded by advertising. By the time my friends and I hit high school, we had seen so many messages for so many different products, we were fed up. Don’t get me wrong, I like a 15 percent discount as much as anyone, but the thought of signing up for a mailing list, entering a contest or, God forbid, clipping coupons was completely foreign to me and my friends. It was time-consuming, it would lead to more ads getting sent to our houses, and it just wasn’t cool. We grew up more reliant on the opinions of our friends than what the TV told us.
But one of the most interesting—and, to me, surprising—things about social media is the way it has completely changed the rules when it comes to promotions. Sites like Groupon and Living Social have millions of young users fighting for coupons, Facebook contests are popping up on nearly every fan page, and Twitter has created a whole new style of time-sensitive discounts.
What has changed that is now striking a chord with young (and older) people? Here are a few key differences:
1. Targeted: Social media has changed the game for targeted marketing. Now, I get sent coupons for restaurants within a few miles of my workplace and house. I hear about contests for free tickets to my favorite band’s next tour. I don’t see ads for college football T-shirts, I see ads for my favorite team’s T-shirts. It’s much easier to pay attention when the stuff you see is actually of interest to you.
2. Immediate: Everyone in sales knows there’s nothing better than immediacy for closing a deal. It’s exhilarating to get a discount right before the price jumps back up. Social media has put immediacy on steroids by offering specials that only last for a few hours. Not only that, but they also play into the feeling of exclusivity. If you get a tweet from a restaurant offering a special discount for the next hour and a half only, not only do you want to get it before it goes away, you also know that only Twitter user who live near you are aware of this. That’s an intoxicating combination.
3. Personal: The main key to the success of these promotions goes deeper, down to the fact that they are getting more personal. Social media definitely has the “cool” factor going for it, but that has less to do with trendy design and more to do with companies speaking directly to their audience. When a Facebook contest asks me to submit a photo or an opinion (like this Live Solid contest), that’s a much more direct link than just asking for my address. Interacting with people and personalizing promotions takes away the layers between a business and a customer, making the relationship closer, more personal, and definitely cooler.
These same factors are important to all aspects of social media, not just promotions. If you’re looking to effectively communicate in the social landscape, make sure you are a speaking to your target audience, make sure you are speaking early and often, and make sure you are speaking in a personal tone.