November 19, 2010, 1:10 PM

Using Facebook to hype holiday shopping

Amazon and Best Buy are among the retailers promoting Black Friday deals on Facebook.

Lead Photo

Consumers who Like Macy’s Inc. on Facebook yesterday could click on a Black Friday tab on the retailer’s social network page to view all the special deals the retailer will offer on the day after Thanksgiving, also known as Black Friday.

In addition to a catalog that showcases the more than 200 specially priced items that are available, the pages feature a tool that enables consumers to drag and drop items showcased as Black Friday specials onto a shopping list. And, if a consumer doesn’t understand how the tool works, she can watch a video on the page that demonstrates it.  

"Macy's is excited to offer some of the season's most desirable gifts at incredibly compelling prices this Black Friday," says Martine Reardon, executive vice president of marketing for Macy's, No. 20 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. The retailer’s approach to promoting those offers is influenced by a desire to inspire consumers to shop early, she says.

Macy’s is not alone in turning to social media to promote its Black Friday specials. 39.2% of retailers say they will use their Facebook page to announce and promote their day after Thanksgiving deals, according to a recent National Retail Federation survey conducted by BIGResearch. Those efforts may pay off as 26% of consumers say they are likely to look to their social networks to find deals or special offers, according to the Internet Retailer Holiday Shopping Survey conducted by Lightspeed Research.

That interest is reflected on The Home Depot’s Facebook page, where the retailer on Wednesday posted a video noting that the company plans to offer Facebook-only offers to consumers who Like The Home Depot, No. 39 in the Top 500 Guide. “Come to our Facebook page this week to get the inside scoop on Facebook-only offers,” says the video. “No codes, no coupons, no reason to miss out.”

Even though Best Buy Co. hasn’t posted its day after Thanksgiving promotions online, it created a Facebook event to which consumers can RSVP in order to be among the first shoppers to learn of its promotions. Thousands of the more than 1.3 million consumers who Like the retailer have responded.

To create suspense about its offers, Best Buy, No. 10 in the Top 500 Guide, has spurred a discussion among shoppers about the sale. For instance, one shopper wrote, “Hey Best Buy, can you release your Black Friday catalog like NOW! I would like to know if I am going to get something off of Amazon or wait on line at 3 in the morning.” Another shopper wrote, “Can't wait for black friday!!!!” To build momentum, Best Buy staff respond to those messages with notes such as “We're excited too Clinton!” or “Most stores will be open at 5am - Happy shopping!”

Even Amazon.com is getting in on the action. The world’s largest online retailer’s Facebook page has featured a different “Countdown to Black Friday” offer every Friday since Oct. 29.

"The rules for Black Friday have changed significantly,” says Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. “Instead of waiting until Thanksgiving Day to announce their promotions, many retailers are getting shoppers excited about Black Friday by offering sneak peeks of deals in advance, using social media to create buzz, or teasing upcoming deals on their web sites.” 

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