What Black Friday can teach us about social media

by Stacey Alexander on November 30, 2010

in Social Media

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I’ve recently been reading a lot about saving money over the holiday season for a client. There are countless survival guides to Black Friday shopping. I personally have only participated in Black Friday one time. I got a few things I wanted at prices way below retail, but it was a beast to tackle.

Over the weekend, (in light of all the tips and guides I’ve been reading) I realized that navigating Black Friday has a lot in common with navigating the social media space. They both require a strategy for success.

Your strategy for navigating the after-Thanksgiving deals includes research to find out where the best deals are, focus on your main goals when creating your route, and proper timing to get the deals you’re after.

Your strategy when navigating the social media space for business purposes involves the same three components.


Find out where your customers and potential customers are in social media. Not all platforms are customer-rich for every business.

Find out what they’re saying about your brand. Is it positive or negative sentiment? Are they asking questions?

Find out what they want from you in terms of your social media presence. Customer service? News and information? Simple interaction?


You can’t be everywhere in social media. One, it’s too big. The manpower it would take to effectively use all platforms is more than your budget allows. Two, your current and potential customers aren’t everywhere. You found out where they are in your research. Focus on them. Be where they are.

Take those most important platforms, and maximize your ROI there. Participate effectively by learning the culture of each platform–Yes, they are different.


Just like you’ll miss the Black Friday deals if you try to shop on Saturday, you’ll lose your customers and miss potential ones if you’re late to the conversation. Unmarketing author, Scott Stratten, has a saying:

If it takes you longer to respond to me in social media than it would for you to walk a hand-written letter over to my house, you’re doing it wrong.

I think I paraphrased a bit, but the message is the same. Being in social media isn’t enough if you’re not participating. And participation isn’t enough if you’re not doing it in a timely manner. People want to know that businesses are listening to them. Want to make an angry customer happy? Many times, all it takes is acknowledging him or her quickly. Failing to do so will have the opposite effect.

What now?

Unfortunately, Black Friday has come and gone. You’ll have to use these genius insights for next year’s run. As for social media, people are talking about your brand right now whether you’re there or not. It’s time to get going!

Photo by purpleslog

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Brown Mike Brown December 1, 2010 at 8:50 am

Some great points, when you talked about the research tools I thought about the importance of what your target audience thinks about your brand. Do you think that you can use Social Media as a focus group for your brand? Maybe when you have a new design, new product , etc. you test it within your social media to get feedback?


Phil Buckley December 2, 2010 at 10:50 am

Is it possible to just “do social media” without a strategy? What if you decide to just use it to chat with your customers with no real goal, just like friends talking – or is that a strategy too?

Would a social media strategy document ever have that advice?


Brian McDonald December 2, 2010 at 11:02 am

I think that using SM just to chat is a tactic with no goal oriented strategy other than to communicate.


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