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Are Social Media Users Just Technologically Advanced Coupon Clippers?



Brand LoveOk, let’s get everything out on the table before we really get going here. Social media helps brand build a following of people who believe in the brand. It creates little armies of brand zealots that do all the promotion for you on a grassroots level. It is the next level of the evolution of the online commerce experience because Internet users are so savvy that they will understand that to experience a brand is to live the brand is to make the Earth safe for the rest of us mere mortals! Oooops. Sorry. I got a little caught up in the hype of social media.

Now for the reality check? Social media users like deals. Sure they may ‘engage’ with a brand a little more but they are really just looking for a deal. A coupon. A discount. Not brand nirvana.

At least that’s what a study from Razorfish as reported by MediaPost is telling us.

Much has been made of the ability of social media to help brands connect with consumers in new and deeper ways — to establish a “dialogue” with users through various interactive tools that blend seamlessly into their online activities.

But a new study suggests the key to engagement on social properties comes down to old-fashioned direct marketing techniques like offering discounts and special promotions. “Based on our research, it’s not so much about some type of ‘shared passion’ for a brand’s values. Largely, it’s about deals — pure and simple,” states the 2009 FEED report from Razorfish examining consumers’ digital habits and attitudes.

What the ……?! Are you trying to tell me that when I put my head down on my pillow at night I really am not smiling about how much Dell, Zappos and Rackspace care for me on a deeper than e-commerce level? You mean it’s because I am just using them for their discounts? I feel so cheap.

Makes sense though. Maybe we need to take a step back on this whole social media deal and understand what is really going on. Sure there are levels of engagement that could not be experienced by brands or their users until the Facebook’s and Twitter’s of the world came along. What we need to be careful of is forgetting that human behavior doesn’t just change on a dime. In fact, I would posit that this is going to be how the VAST majority of people embrace social media for the foreseeable future. Not because they want to engage with a brand but because they want the brand they like for less cash.

Some other quick findings included

Of those who follow a brand on Twitter, for example, 44% said access to exclusive deals is the main reason. And on Facebook and MySpace, 37% cited special deals as the main reason they have “friended” a brand. The report points to companies such as Starbucks, which has amassed nearly 5 million fans and soared to the top of Facebook brand pages by offering coupons for free pastries and ice cream.

Razorfish identified customer service as the other key driver of consumer interaction in social media, with 33% friending a brand on Facebook and MySpace for that purpose, and 24% on Twitter. Companies such as Comcast, Zappos and Virgin have all gotten high marks for using the latter as a customer relations management (CRM) tool.

Now, this is where you create the brand zealots. When you solve their problems using social media then you are on to something. To think, though, that social media is selling more product because of the buying experience is a bit much when you are talking about the masses.

So for all of you who are seething at my position that the ‘feel good’ side of branding with social media is over-hyped please make your case with your comments. Meanwhile I am off to Dunkin’ Donuts for a discounted dozen beauties followed up by a dollar off cup of something from somewhere.

  • http://singulartechnologies.com/blog Ahmad Barirani

    I think it all makes sense with co-creation concept. If social media users are to be part of the branding and promotion process, then they are going to ask for something in return. And I guess it’s going to be more than just cool functionality…
    .-= Ahmad Barirani´s last blog ..Use Twitter Lists for Classifying Your Click Ring (A.K.A. Followers) =-.

  • http://www.2gomedia.travel/dealfeeder.html 2Go Media

    Social medias are cool tools that you can easily used anytime anywhere, I’ve been doing a lot of internet marketing and find this methods amusing since you have to exchange thoughts and feed what’s in your mind in a day to day basis which I think fun to do.

  • mose

    First of all …

    Social medias are cool tools that you can easily used anytime anywhere, I’ve been doing a lot of internet marketing and find this methods amusing since you have to exchange thoughts and feed what’s in your mind in a day to day basis which I think fun to do.

    WTF? Hopefully, not a lot of Internet Marketing near me!

    Anyway, je digress.

    If one does not understand what exactly a Brand is Social Media (there is no such thing BTW) advertising, PR, marketing and PR, promotions etc etc will be a never ending source of bewilderment.

    A Brand (so called) resides in the heart of the consumer. Companies cause that phenomena by putting their product service or offering out in the marketplace to the unwashed teeming millions.

    Companies can steer, or try to steer the brand but they neither own it nor control it. Furthermore, most marketers are horrible at what they do. For one thing most kids doing marketing are looking for results this month or at best this quarter. Brands have Lifetime Net Value, not quarter over quarter value.

    As for deals? Yep – we love cheap/free shit. That sadly erodes a brands value – you discoount something you are telling folks you are Walmart and not Mercedes. No matter what your alleged brand is.

    Online – made up of a lot of geeks (Excuse me while I slag an entire group) are all about cheap and free and getting the best deals and telling folks that they did. That is why geeks look like they do, dress like they do and end up living in their Moms basement fantasizing over some bimbo on F•R•I•E•N•D•S

    (That was cute. I kill myself sometimes.)

    Anyay if we all get bent out of shape on this thang called SM – have a peek at The Cluetrain.

    SM is so not what the Cluetrain envisioned.

  • http://www.thoughts.com thoughts.com

    Coupons may be what people are searching for when first signing up but not the only reason for staying. Companies keep it updated with new products and exclusive information on favorite stores and brands. It also exposes people to new brands they never knew existed.It shows the culture of the company and reminds us why we go there in the first place.

  • http://www.socialsam.com Michael Morgan

    Discounts and coupons are all just part of the mix. If a company does not consider all methods of engaging their customers and potential customers, then they are not doing their job effectively. Social media marketing is one of many tools, not a cure-all for your marketing woes. In order to use it effectively, it must be integrated into your overall marketing strategy, and into your company’s communication culture. Only then does it have a chance to be effective and productive.

  • Kristen Judd

    I agree with Michael. Coupons and promotions ARE part of the massive category of content and consumers will seek out the type of content that is valuable to them or that they perceive to be valuable. A social media marketing plan should be mindful of the realities of consumer conduct. That said, businesses should have a clear vision of their objectives when embarking upon a social media plan. If the objective is to build up as many fans and followers as possible and push out as many coupons as possible, this tactic might be sufficient. However, if the goal is to establish more meaningful connections with customers and/or to have a loyal group that helps to extend positive word of mouth for your brand, then it might make more sense to use social media sites to develop loyalty programs or reward devoted customers with more exclusive offers. Again, this is one piece of the puzzle and no single piece should be viewed as a substitute for a comprehensive approach.