Black Friday and Twitter – What Worked
According to comScore, $648 million was spent online on November 26, 2010, aka Black Friday. In addition to using traditional channels such as TV and print to broadcast their sales, major retailers leveraged Twitter to promote limited-time offers, special online-only or in-store deals, and to share photos of customers enjoying in-store events. As more companies explore ways to exploit the revenue potential of Twitter, retailers’ use of Twitter on Black Friday offers valuable examples of what can work.
By Kara Reinsel, Digital Integration & Innovation
In order to understand how retailers use Twitter this holiday shopping season, it’s important to keep a few things in mind. According to various estimates, there are 10–15 million active Twitter users,1
half of all cell phones are expected to be Web-enabled by the end of 2011,2
and nearly 51% of active Twitter users follow some companies, brands or products.3
This means that more mainstream customers are using Twitter as a way to track favorite stores activities and sales offerings. Major retailers are embracing the opportunity – according to a shop.org e-holiday survey, 21% of retailers planned to use Twitter to promote Black Friday deals.
The quick-burst nature of Twitter naturally lends itself to discount-driven, limited-time events such as Black Friday. Best Buy, Target, Walmart, Home Depot and Sears offered a mixture of tweets to drive customers online or to their brick-and-mortar stores. For instance, Best Buy () tweeted “Save $1,000 on this LG washer + dryer pair: http://bbyurl.us/tgg. Limited time only, in store only!” This tweet maximizes the one-time-only opportunity to receive a deep discount on an expensive product and drive users directly to the product page at www.bestbuy.com, where it can be purchased. Other retailers such as Walmart included words like “Black Friday Offer” and “Black Friday In-Store!”4
in their tweets to alert Twitter followers to special deals. In order to promote Black Friday deals, retailers capitalized on their established presence on Twitter and promoted their Twitter accounts before and during the holiday. One week before Black Friday, Target sponsored Twitter’s Promoted Trend using the hashtag #blackfriday to give users the chance to win a $25 gift card. Walmart’s page announced several Black Friday deals prior to November 26. Black Friday hashtags such as #blackfriday consolidated deals from multiple retailers, helping to build awareness of a retailer’s sales and push more traffic to their sites. Implications and Action Items
A set of best practices is beginning to emerge for retailers who want to use Twitter to drive revenue, not just on special days like Black Friday, but year-round:
1 ComputerWorld.com, “Twitter Has 75M Users, Most Asleep at the Mouse.” January 26, 20102 NielsenWire, “Android Soars, but iPhone Still Most Desirable as Smartphones Grab 25% of U.S. Mobile Market.” August 2, 20103 Edison Research, Twitter Usage in America 2010. April 29, 20104 ClickZ, “How Top Retailers Used Twitter on Black Friday.” November 30, 2010
- Update, update, update – The most active retailers posted 49 (Walmart) to 70 (Best Buy) tweets on Black Friday. The frequency of updates encouraged users to follow and regularly check these retailers for the latest deals and limited-time offers.
- Dedicate staff – In order to manage the volume of tweets to be posted and monitored on a day such as Black Friday, have a dedicated team working to identify, prepare and post the tweets that are ideally suited for a one-day sales event. Given the revenue potential, a retailer’s Twitter page is not something to be left to an intern to manage.
- Push deals – Twitter is ideally situated to promote the deep discounts, special deals and one-time offers that are synonymous with Black Friday.
- Promote your Twitter page – Consider purchasing Twitter’s Promoted Trend, seeding announcements of special deals on your Twitter page, and including links to deal-related Twitter handles in all marketing communications.