November 24, 2009, 12:00 AM

E-retailers use social media to hype holiday promotions

Several major e-retailers are turning to Facebook and Twitter to announce holiday specials and promotions. They include Sears, Office Depot and Staples.

Several major e-retailers are turning to Facebook and Twitter to bring in more holiday sales this year.

Last week Sears Holdings Corp. offered 25 of its more than 145,000 Facebook fans the chance to win a $500 gift card. Sears fans also could win the chance to preview Sears’ day-after-Thanksgiving sales will be invited to their local Sears store on Wednesday, Nov. 25, for a VIP preview shopping trip led by the store manager and $500 to spend in the store.

"Facebook is a natural way for us to reach our loyal customers and `fans` to reward them with an exclusive opportunity and fun way to shop and take advantage of Sears Black Friday Deals," says Don Hamblen, chief marketing officer for Sears, No. 7 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide (a PDF version of the company’s financial and operating profile can be ordered by clicking on its name). Black Friday is a common term for the day after Thanksgiving, a day when many shoppers flock to retail stores to begin their holiday shopping. Cyber Monday is a term for the Monday after Thanksgiving when consumers return to work and often start their online gift shopping.

Similarly, Kmart plans to use Twitter to notify customers about in-store blue light specials on the Friday after Thanksgiving a few hours before the deals are announced in the stores. “When a blue light special is announced either in the store, or on Twitter, we expect to see people texting each other about the deal,” says Mark Snyder, Kmart chief marketing officer. “All of a sudden it will create a crowd that is partaking in something unexpected. It’s a very viral sort of thing.”

Shoppers who become a fan of Sears has also announced that its Facebook friends and Twitter followers will be the first to learn about some Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals.

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