Social media means new tools and new dollars for Cyber Monday advertisers

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After the door busting Black Friday deals and the specials mom and pop offered on Small Business Saturday, Americans went back to work on Monday morning and did what we do best: kept right on shopping.

Cyber Monday – that is, the Monday following Thanksgiving – is one of the biggest online shopping days of the year. According to the New York Times, the moniker “grew out of the observation that millions of otherwise productive working Americans, fresh off a Thanksgiving weekend of window shopping, were returning to high-speed Internet connections at work Monday and buying what they liked.”

This year, despite the economic downturn, Cyber Monday sales increased 20% over 2009 levels .  Shoppers not only seem to be more willing to spend this holiday season, but they also want spend online.  With a positive glimmer amidst still difficult economic numbers, you better believe that advertisers sought to reap the benefits.

Fueled by Cyber Monday fantasies, 9 out of ten retailers posted online sales, up from 7 out of ten in the past several years.  To advertise their sales, many targeted Facebook and Twitter users writing about holiday shopping.

On Twitter, followers of Best Buy learned about Cyber Monday deals, discounts, specials, and shopping updates through tweets posted throughout the day.  HUDSON Jeans hosted a 24-hour long sale event for VIP Facebook fans – otherwise known as everyone who ‘likes’ their Facebook page – to receive 40% off select HUDSON jeans. These are just two of the ways retailers used social media this year to increase their Cyber Monday sales, but the possibilities and the examples are as varied as the merchants themselves.

As the revenue numbers rise, it is becoming evident that there is an increasing benefit to marketing through social media venues with time-limited call to action campaigns.  At a minimum, the marketer may be able to affect a response by getting a consumer to ‘friend’ a brand and or register to take advantage of a special offer. This may or may not lead immediately to a direct response, but it could provide the marketer with “opt in” contact information and an interested subscriber for future announcements and promotions.

The advertising industry standard has traditionally been “broad,” as in broadcasting.  The goal has been to cover as many people in a demographic or geographic area as possible, and hope your message reaches the right audience and affects a desired reaction.

By effective use of direct marketing through social media, and perhaps giving them a way via online sales events to act on the promotion, we can see a paradigm shift away from “broad” or mass marketing to targeted, intelligent campaigns.

Instead of advertising to everyone, you can promote to people who have signed on to follow a promotion or brand.  By doing so, they qualified themselves as strong potential customers and publicly announced themselves as such by agreeing to follow a social media campaign or account.

While for consumer brands it won’t entirely eliminate the traditional venues of advertising such as television, radio, print, and out of home, an effective and coordinated social media plan should to be considered a part of any well designed advertising and communications strategy.

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