Christmas is coming, but first comes “Black Friday,” which even in the era of ecommerce and online retailers – not to mention Amazon Prime Day – remains the busiest shopping day of the year. It continues to be the official start of the holiday season and is when retailers often offer the best holiday deals.
Given the hype, which has been built up for weeks, it would be hard not to know there will be deals on the Friday following Thanksgiving. Yet, given supply chain woes this year, those deals could be far and few between. That is why this year social media could be so crucial for finding the best prices.
“Social media is being used increasingly by businesses, especially by those focusing on millennial and Gen-Z customers, who use these types of media more than anything else,” said Dr. P.K. Kannan, the Dean’s Chair in marketing science at the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business.
“So, gift items, electronics, apparel, video games, etc., are product categories that are likely to be heavily featured in social media and that makes it an ideal medium to search for #blackfridaydeals,” added Kannan. “Any product category targeted at these demographics should be featured prominently in these channels.”
Moreover, it isn’t just for Black Friday, this will be true over the entire four-day holiday weekend and into next week’s Cyber Monday.
“Retailers large and small understand the influence of social media, and you’ll see this on Black Friday/Small Business Saturday,” explained Dr. Dustin York, associate professor of communication at Maryville University. “As retailers may release deals throughout the day, consider turning on alert notifications for your favorite stores on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. You’ll see deals on their social media before you see it anywhere else.”
While Black Friday existed long before the Internet was around, Small Business Saturday – which is now only in its 11th year – was truly born in the social media era. It was created by American Express, in partnership with the non-profit National Trust for Historic Preservation, and since its inception has been promoted on platforms such as Facebook.
And while those of a certain age may also remember when the Yellow Pages suggested “let your fingers do the walking,” today it could be far more common to let your thumbs do the searching. Shoppers can support local merchants as well as smaller retailers around the country by looking for the hashtags #smallbusinesssaturday and #smallbizsaturday.
“Local retailers should take advantage of Small Business Saturday power in local search,” said York. “Social media and Google search algorithms promote local businesses, so digital should be a key factor for owners. Remember, a majority of local searches online end in a sale – no better day to benefit than Small Business Saturday.”
This is especially true for attracting younger shoppers this year.
“Small businesses have been very successful in targeting customers and effecting conversions on social media,” said Kannan. “This is especially true if the products are targeted at millennial and Gen-Z customers. Social media is an ideal channel to precisely target customers based on their behavioral and psychographic profiles. This leads to very efficient targeting and so the display and video ads lead to conversions with relatively low acquisition costs.”
The other positive of social media is the serendipity of becoming a viral hit, suggested Kannan. “Gen-Z’s especially trust word of mouth of their peers and do not trust advertisement pitches. So, if an item from the small business becomes a viral sensation, it can lead to a windfall in sales. So, I would strongly recommend small businesses use social media on a regular basis and for Small Business Saturday.”
Get Some Influence
For small retailers and brands, a social media influencer could have big results – especially in the run-up to the holidays.
“Social media is a great way for entrepreneurs to benefit from the biggest shopping week of the year,” said Dr. Yuvay Meyers Ferguson, Ph.D., assistant dean of Impact and Engagement and associate professor in the School of Business at Howard University.
“Influencer marketing can feel intimidating for small business owners, but the power of social networking is a proven way to get your business in front of your potential consumers,” added Ferguson. “Even without a large budget, don’t be afraid to reach out to influencers that may still be up and coming that like to highlight brands like yours and offer them a discount code to share with their audiences. You’d be surprised how many of them would appreciate the connection to your business. Throw in an extra discount or gift card for them and it’s a win-win!”