In one corner of the discount services matchup: Groupon, an online coupon site offering daily deals to consumers – mostly social media junkies and the email-obsessed. Armed with a computer/smartphone and a Groupon account, social networking buffs can find dirt-cheap deals at their favorite places with the click of a “share” link.
In the other corner: Facebook Deals, the newest player in this high-stakes game. The premise behind Facebook Deals is that it uses the company’s location-based “Places” check-in to help users find deals on local businesses – while sharing them with friends at the same time. Many deals will be offered for users and their Facebook friends for even more savings.
While these two companies joust for business, they offer a social media marketing dream for businesses. But with all of these features and benefits offered by each one, the big question now is: can Facebook Deals oust Groupon from its top spot in the discount deals segment?
Let’s take a look at each of the services.
Money-Saving Wars: Groupon
The concept behind Groupon came to fruition when its founder, out of frustration over his own experience with retail establishments, decided to test the theory that groups of people can drive change.
The model for Groupon is simple:
- Every day, for 24 hours, Groupon offers a deal, often a 50% or more discount on various products and services.
- The customer signs up to purchase the deal, generally with a limit of two per person and two additional as gifts.
- Here’s the catch: before you can cash in on the deal of the day, a minimum number of people must want to purchase it as well. If at the end of the 24 hours the quota has not been met, your credit card is not charged and you lose nothing.
Although Groupon’s concept has been copied and duplicated several times, Groupon has experienced unprecedented growth thanks to the right retail partnerships (including some large national chains), its early mover status and its conversational, witty content style. Now, with the introduction of Facebook Deals, Groupon may have finally met its match.
Money-Saving Wars: Facebook Deals
Facebook Deals is the brainchild of Mark Zuckerberg, who is hoping to take down Groupon by heavily targeting both businesses and the 600 million-plus Facebook users in the world. Sound ambitious? Maybe so, but with the company’s resources, that goal may not be as difficult as you think.
Facebook Deals takes social media marketing to the extreme by emphasizing the social aspect of the transactions. A user signs up to receive Facebook Deals on their wall and invites their friends to sign up too. All of Facebook’s deals will focus on products, services or activities that friends can do together, further adding to the social web experiment.
The saving grace for Facebook is the sheer number of users already on its social network, making it easy for them to access a large group of people at once – thereby presenting a target-rich environment for retailers. Still, the tenacity of Groupon’s founders, their refusal to be intimidated, how the company markets itself vs. Facebook and its ongoing search for the right business partners may keep them on top of the money-saving wars – at least for now.
Splash Media co-founder and chief learning officer Paul Slack continues his series of SplashCasts on topics that generate the most discussion at our Social Media for CEOs Boot Camps. In this edition, Paul talks to SplashCast host Renay San Miguel about social media currency – the content companies generate that can help establish them as thought leaders in their industries and lead to greater trust and credibility with their customers.
For more SplashCasts, subscribe to our YouTube channel.
The rising use of smartphones to access the Internet has allowed for social networking to flourish. Apps, extensions and plugins that allow you to access and update your profiles all at once are not only fun, but they are becoming indispensable for families and friends who need to be in constant contact.
The New, Cool Marketing Tool
However, in the last couple of years, a new type of social media networking has emerged that could not only change the way we network, but also the way we do business.
Already we have seen a change in the way larger corporations communicate with their consumer base thanks to social media. Yet in recent months, geo-targeting has become a highly effective way to interact with a target audience – while making it fun for them to interact with us. By merging the fun of gaming with the marketing benefits of social networking, an innovative twist to the social media marketing model has been introduced – and it’s producing results.
Foursquare and Marketing: Why It Works
The darling of geo-targeting these days is Foursquare. Foursquare uses the concept of “check-ins” to earn points and awards for the user while creating a buzz about locations and venues throughout the country and the world. It is estimated that about 7 million people worldwide are using Foursquare to share their locations with friends and other users, recommend new places to go as well as offer suggestions about things to do and try while at those places.
Here’s how it works:
1. Check-in to a location through a phone app, text messaging or mobile website.
2. When checking in, you can add information about what you’re doing and you can give your followers suggestions on what to do if they ever visit.
3. You can earn “badges” depending on the number of points you have or the type of places you’re going to.
4. Checking in at a place with frequency can make you the “Mayor” of this location – until you are “dethroned” by another Foursquare user. Being “Mayor” earns you both points and badges.
The cool thing about Foursquare in terms of marketing potential? It takes word-of-mouth to a new level. Geo-targeting enables an audience to introduce people to restaurants, coffeehouses, stores and other businesses almost immediately, and it does it with fun and flair.
Businesses “Foursquaring” Off
There’s a growing trend emerging as a result of geo-tracking that may give your clients the upper hand in social media marketing trends on their communities. Many retail establishments and eateries are urging customers to “check-in” to their locales on Foursquare (as well as Facebook or Twitter, which also have check-in capabilities now) and show someone at the business to receive discounts or special offers. This new strategy is helping businesses gain a following and build a reputation among social media audiences who are always looking for a good time – and a good bargain.
Fun and Exciting Marketing
Foursquare is a social media marketing winner for many things. But its biggest victory is that it gives your client’s business a chance to speak for itself through its most powerful marketing tool: the consumer.
Cloud computing is currently suffering a severe public relations thunderstorm, thanks to last week’s Amazon server failure and the Sony Playstation Network. While the investigations into these incidents continues, businesses should keep in mind two important points regarding our 21st-century economy:
* Despite such highly-publicized bumps and obstacles, technology will continue to be a vital force in the lives of companies of all sizes. Cloud computing isn’t going anywhere, folks.
* When technology fails companies, business leaders need to give their customers a heads-up – even as they are banging their own noggins against the nearest server computer. Cloud computing may not be leaving the scene anytime soon, but your customers could bolt for the exits depending on how you handle a crisis situation.
Companies using Amazon Web Services for website and application hosting did indeed suffer a multi-day outage; those companies include media darling start-ups such as Foursquare and Quora. But you can be sure that Amazon has done everything it can to assure these vital b-to-b customers – and $500 million-dollar revenue sources – that backups and redundancies are on the way. Those companies using AWS, in turn, let their customers know they could get in touch with them to vent their rage or get the latest info.
Splash Media social media manager Carly Rowe was on the receiving end of some of those communications efforts. “These companies sent out emails assuring all customers that they were working to fix the problem and there was nothing to worry about, but if something did occur they could contact them,” Rowe said. “I kind of appreciated that.”
When it happens to your business, any technology platforms still functioning should be used to assure customers about the status of private/company information – and it should be done as quickly and as often as possible. Transparency in these situations is key, and any social media platforms still standing can help pass that message along, as well as allow customers to blow off steam and direct them to privacy policies and any updated information.
Technology giveth, and technology can taketh away. But glitches and outages shouldn’t scare companies away from its benefits – including social media technologies that can help businesses build trust and credibility with customers. Being upfront about problems using those platforms can make sure those customers stick around when the storm clouds clear.
That big yellow ball in the sky? Those blooms showing up on trees? The umpteenth showing of “The Ten Commandments” on television? It”s all about springtime renewal, of course. Easter is approaching and temperatures are indeed rising across the country.
It just so happens that social media for small businesses can help renew relationships with customers and apply a little spring-like warmth to marketing strategies. Here are a handful of examples we found during the past week:
Using Social Media To Play Brand Defense
shares how shipping giant UPS used its social media platforms to deal with a handful of customer/media relations challenges – including fulfillment problems involving iPads and how to counter a competitor”s marketing claims.
How To Spin Groupon”s Purchase Of The Company Behind Whrrl
of what Groupon”s acquisition of Pelago could mean for local company e-commerce efforts. Pelago is the Seattle-based company behind Whrrl, a location-based service in the style of Foursquare and Gowalla. Groupon, the top web-based deal/discount website, may use Whrrl”s real-time technology to move shoppers that much closer to local businesses and their customer incentives via mobile marketing.
Looking for SEO Love For Your Facebook Page
We”ve said it here before here at Splash Media, in our blog posts and SplashCasts; search is going social and that can give a big boost to social media marketing for small businesses. But it has to be done right, which means organically. John Paul Titlow of ReadWriteWeb went searching for ways on how companies can optimize their Facebook pages to climb the charts on Google search results. His story is a must-read for SMB”s.
Please share any other news/best practices you”ve found in your web readings in our comments section. We hope you have a happy Easter/Passover, and we”ll see you back here on Monday!
When computer users send out a business email, or access the web from their home, there’s a good chance they’re using a Cisco Systems product or service somewhere along that connection.
The company that helped build out the Internet’s infrastructure understands that social media is bringing businesses and customers closer than ever, so Cisco is becoming a part of that conversation thanks to its social media strategies.
Cisco’s social media director John Earnhardt talks to SplashCast host Renay San Miguel about how his company uses Facebook, Twitter and blog posts.
For more SplashCasts and videos on social media marketing, subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Social media marketing is not all about sitting in front of the computer analyzing data and checking followers and stats on the company’s Facebook or Twitter. Not just social media marketing, but marketing in general, is a very teamwork-oriented industry. Brainstorming sessions, meetings and quorums are vital parts of keeping the machine flowing.
Unfortunately, meetings can also be time-consuming and wasteful due to disorganization and inefficient planning. Here are some ways to effectively utilize meeting time.
Meeting Smarter, Not Longer
By evaluating the way you conduct meetings,. Whether you do it daily or weekly, taking heed of these four valuable tips will help you help your team achieve results.
1. Set Clear Objectives –Make sure that, before every meeting, you have a clear, concise, outlined agenda covering all of the most important points to be discussed with your team, and make sure everyone has copies of it.
2. Kill the PowerPoint –Put down the PowerPoint clicker and start addressing your team face to face, encouraging discussion and conversation about the issues affecting the group and how marketing and sales strategies can truly improve.
3. Encourage Creativity –Rather than talking at your group and hiding behind Powerpoint slides, gather them around a whiteboard and talk about the things you’re experiencing with your clients, what strategies are helping your social media marketing plan, and how you can make those better, together.
4. Don’t Meet – Sometimes, writing a briefing or a one-page report, shooting the group an email or making a call is far more effective and it saves valuable time. Whenever possible, your team should be attending to the needs of the clients so that your company can thrive. Unnecessary meetings can be detrimental when it would be much faster and less time-consuming to email a note.
Examine what results from meeting with your team. The outcome will be a clear indicator of whether your meetings are worth your time, or whether they need to go away.
Is there anything a smartphone can’t do? First the video cameras on iPhones and Androids are credited with kicking the Flip video camcorder to the technology graveyard. Now comes news from Flickr – one of the first social photo sharing websites – that iPhone 4′s are currently blowing past traditional cameras such as Canon’s EOS models as the most popular cameras among its members. A chart on Flickr’s website shows that the latest iPhone should soon dethrone the Nikon D90 for the top spot on the list.
Smartphone cameras have passed the megapixel barrier that separated them from digital point-and-shoot cameras, and the iPhone 4, along with other phones like the HTC Evo and Incredible, now represent a gold standard that has many consumers thinking of their phones as their first and only image capture devices for special family/friend moments.
So how can your company take advantage of this for your social media platforms?
Most smartphones and their related photo applications offer easy ways to share snapshots on Facebook and other social networks. Your social media photos can dress up a Facebook wall with happy customers, first looks at new products, behind-the-scenes activities. Smile – you’ve just humanized your brand and business in an authentic way. You can also give a special shout-out to favorite customers by “tagging” them in the photos as a way to solidify your relationship with them.
Facebook isn’t the only social media platform that’s photo-friendly. Last year Twitter redesigned its home page to allow for more multi-media sharing of photos and videos. The location-based service Foursquare lets its users pass along social media photos as well. And Flickr – now a division of Yahoo! – is getting all this smartphone attention for a reason; it offers a simple interface for photo sharing.
And since social media is a conversation, businesses can be on the receiving end of user-generated photos and videos for their social media platforms if there are contests, discounts or surveys involved.
As long as technology is reshaping the way we capture and store our memories, companies should ride the digital wave to their advantage. Social media photos can help show the big picture of what’s going on at your business.
It’s tax time in the U.S., and in keeping in the spirit of things, here are some stories about social media marketing that we’ve “audited” for you. Read this mix of breaking news, success stories and best practices at your leisure; we promise you won’t have to file an extension if you don’t finish them on time.
The Coming Google/Facebook War
Wall Street watchers weren’t just digging into Google’s Q1 earnings results this week to find out how the search giant is doing with its advertising-related revenue. They, along with The Street’s Scott Moritz are curious about how company co-founder and new CEO Larry Page will roll out his social media strategy in an attempt to counter Facebook’s growth. Those decisions will impact small businesses looking to boost their presence on Google’s search results pages via social media.
Restaurants Serve Up Social Media Treats on Tax Day
Janet Forgrieve of Smart Blog for Restaurants has an appetizing roundup of fast-food and casual dining restaurant chains that are using social media to take the sting out of tax day with special discounts and deals.
Photos, Quizzes and Likes: Facebook Marketing Tips
Crystal-clear photos on a company’s Facebook page can help customers focus on products and services. Using high resolution photos is just one of “5 Facebook Features To Jazz Up Your Marketing” mentioned in an AllFacebook blog post from Donna Parker .
What about you – is a tax refund from Uncle Sam in your immediate future? How do you plan on spending it? Share your thoughts, as well as any comments about social media marketing for businesses, and we’ll see you back here on Monday.
If published reports are to be believed, Twitter may be looking to boost its appeal to companies wanting to take advantage of the rapidly-growing social network, using Twitter Places. A report in UK’s Marketing Magazine (part of Brand Republic) says Twitter is considering adding targeted pages for business accounts.
The obvious comparison here is with Facebook Pages, which is having some success with a redesign of this service meant to attract companies looking to use that particular social network for brand awareness while setting up stronger conversations with users. But can Twitter pull off the same feat?