Saving Money, Social Media-Style

To an amazing extent, social media has disrupted the way we do business in response to changing customer expectations. Offering buying incentives is no exception.

To an amazing extent, social media has disrupted the way we do business in response to changing customer expectations. Offering buying incentives is no exception.

We’re still recovering from the recession, dealing with an economic reality of stagnant wages stretching back decades. For most of us, that means finding a budget that works and saving money wherever we can. Retailers have always used sales and incentives to bring people in the doors and get them to try products, and social media takes the concept to a new level.

While you still see the occasional extreme couponer in stores, waving a sheaf of deals clipped from circulars and newspapers, technology has largely taken the place of paper and scissors. In the heyday of extreme couponing, it was not unusual for shoppers to save $200 per week on groceries. Some ex-extreme couponers describe it as an all-consuming addiction.

Clipping is so 2012.

For most people, buying a big pile of newspapers and going through them page-by-page to find coupons for the products you want are a thing of the past. Coupons are online ad easily accessible via searchable databases and mobile applications. But the real value lies in social interactions, and businesses are using savings to build audience, engagement and loyalty. Here are some clever ways companies and customers are using social media to save money–and time.

Social sharing FTW

Groups that once met in kitchens to trade coupons and discuss strategy are online now. Consumers can find huge groups of like-minded friends dedicated to serious savings on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and Pinterest posting deals, receipt and purchase photos and tales of victorious shopping trips.

Some businesses savvy enough to harness the social sharing trend reward users for sharing coupon offers with friends. Tell-a-friend is a classic technique to grow audience and traffic.

Engagement perks

Credit-card companies were among the first brands to tie incentives to social media engagement. Discover Card and Capital One partnered with social game developer Zynga to reach CityVille, FarmVille and Pioneer Trail players.

American Express partnered with Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare to allow cardholders to sync their cards with social profiles and earn discounts and other perks through engagement such as likes, check-ins and hashtags.

Taking savings one step further

While saving an impressive amount of money with social media discounts and rebates, users can also boost their budgets by selling influence. Referral companies like Social Rebate and Referral Candy partner with vendors to add value to purchases. When shoppers place an order, they are given the opportunity to share their purchased items on social media in exchange for a discount or rebate. It works much like an affiliate program.

Why social incentives work

Influencer marketing may be a hot new buzzword in the marketing world, but it’s essentially the same word-of-mouth advertising retailers have depended on for centuries. An influencer is anyone friends and followers trust. In the ad-saturated marketplace, consumers are far more likely to trust recommendations, even from people they don’t know.

Social sharing and engagement incentives that help consumers save money are wildly popular. Satisfied customers are always happy to share good news, especially when they get a return on their social capital.

Sherry Gray is a freelance content writer from Key West, Fla., currently suffering in the suburbs of Orlando. She is a science geek, a social media junkie and an unapologetic fan of all things bacon. Follow her on Twitter: @SheriSaid.

Photo courtesy of Scott Griessel/Adobe Stock.