Forget about the newspaper circular. If consumers are looking for Black Friday deals, chances are, they'll look where they spend a ton of time: Facebook. This year more than ever Facebook is a key tool for retailers to connect with shoppers. And this year big brands aren't just trying to get fans to buy, they're trying to spread their message to fans *friends* -- to leverage the site for the power of its networks.
Facebook's VP of US sales, Tom Arrix, told me the company believes businesses are simply "better in a more social and connected world." He meets with Fortune 500 brands to convince them brands that *aren't* on Facebook are leaving money on the table. This year brands are using the site not just to promote black Friday deals and special hours, but to help people shop for their friends.
Wal-Mart has pages for every one of its 4,400 US stores and recently uploaded maps with info on where to find different deals. JC Penney wants to help shoppers select gifts, with a Facebook guessing game that allows users to share their "wish lists" and learn about friends' lists. eBay also is using Facebook for 'wish lists,' and is going one step further -- allowing gifters to organize groups to chip in for bigger gifts on those lists.
Facebook revealed a couple key stats it shares with marketers to get them on board: 57 percent of shoppers find Black Friday deals on Facebook -- that's 86.6 million people, according to research firm iProspect. And Facebook's most active demographic -- 18 to 24 year olds, plan to spend more than previous Black Fridays, and to go in-store to find deals.
It seems to be working -- though Facebook won't reveal numbers, a quick search of the site shows some massive campaigns. This year 18 percent of CMOs say promotions via social media are the top sales tool; that's an 80 percent increase from last year. And apparently it's also working on shoppers. People who sign up as a 'fan' of Target or Best Buy are 57 percent more likely to buy; a Wal-Mart fan is 40 percent more likely. But what these retailers are really going for is a multiplier effect: Wal-Mart fans' friends are 25 percent more likely to buy from the retailer, Target fans friends are 8 percent more likely and Best Buy fans friends are 34 percent more likely.
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