Study: Consumers Look to Social Media for Discounts

Among those who have friended a brand on MySpace or Facebook, a third did it mainly to gain access to exclusive deals and discounts, according to a new report from Razorfish. The number was even higher — 44 percent — for people who follow a brand on Twitter.

While it may come as no surprise that consumers view brand interactions as a potential source of insider deals, the findings should supply a dose of reality to marketers getting caught up in the hype of conversational marketing, said Garrick Schmitt, group VP of experience planning at Razorfish and author of the agency’s FEED report.

“There’s all this talk about social media and conversation, but you forget that what’s at the heart of it for most consumers is actual products and the act of buying products,” he said. “I don’t think that it takes away from the power of the medium, but I do think that you can’t forget what’s primary in the consumers’ mind in terms of the conversation.”

The study cited Dell, Amazon and Starbucks as brands that have won large followings online by using social media platforms to present regular deals and discount. Starbucks, for example, has amassed nearly 5 million fans on Facebook, in part by frequently posting alerts about free products and discounts.

The study also showed that consumers were happy to let brands be part of their social media experience, so opportunities for branding do exist.

Seventy six percent of respondents said they welcomed brand advertising on social networks, and most have sought to initiate interaction. Seventy percent said they had read a corporate blog, 67 percent said they’d sought out and watched a commercial on YouTube, and 65 percent said they had played at least one branded casual game online.

Forty percent of consumers have friended a brand on Facebook or MySpace, and 26 percent have followed a brand on Twitter, according to the study.

“Consumers who have brand experiences based on our findings are the ones who are becoming much more active, and that is changing and shifting their perceptions and their purchase patterns,” said Schmitt.

The survey took place in August of 2009 among 1,000 American consumers. The respondents were evenly split between men and women and hailed from 10 different regions of the country.

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