Social Media Strategy, Social Media Marketing

Why Your Special Offer Isn’t

Social media and its impact on business only exists because of the larger trend of customer information and consequent choice making. 15 years ago, most of us didn’t care so very much about where our meat came from, or which rental car company we used, or what type of permanent marker we wrote with – because we didn’t have any meaningful information to help us decide.

Did we write letters to Hertz, Avis, Enterprise, and Budget and ask them to send us brochures so we could make a more informed choice? Of course not. Nor, did we hoof it down to the local library to use encyclopedias or read annual reports via some byzantine database.

We made purchasing decisions based on traditional advertising (not known for its info-centrism), packaging, price, and word of mouth.

But now, thanks to the advent of the Web, and then social media, everyone is an informed consumer. We make purposeful choices with our dollars because we have the information and corresponding insights to delineate between options that heretofore seemed identical.

You’re the Exception, Not the Rule

If you’re reading this blog, you care more about social media than almost any of your customers, who don’t have the advantage of social media being a component of their profession. Instead, they are balancing their social media creation and consumption with job, family, religion, volunteerism, and other forms of diversion.

social media special offersYour customers are carving out pieces of their free time and giving it to you via social media. It’s an incredible gift. And that’s why it’s imperative that if you’re going to succeed in social media, you need to dig deep and communicate with your customers through authentic, human stories that are equal parts marketing and entertainment. Give potential customers something to remember you by, rather than a 140-character press release, coupon, or nutritional info via QR code.

Beware the Invitation Avalanche

Yes, I realize that there are research studies that show a big chunk of social media fans and followers do so to get access to special offers. But that data reflects a moment in time, a vestige of the era (soon to pass) before customers were besieged by invitations and offers and contests and social shopping deals and bit.lys.

Email marketing has followed a similar trajectory. In its early incarnations, customers signed up for newsletters in droves to get access to promos sent directly to them by companies they favored – no trudging to the mailbox required. But now, nobody wants more email, and smart companies go to great lengths to ensure that their email communication is fully optimized for relevancy and context, to avoid customer tune-out.

Social media will travel the same path. When every company has a Facebook page, and a Twitter account, and a blog, and a YouTube channel, and a Foursquare offer, and whatever else is coming along next, how are customers going to parse all of those invitations?

When every company on the planet has a special offer, yours isn’t that special.

The companies that succeed and break through the pile of social flotsam will be those that base their social efforts on humanization and storytelling, not on post-modern couponing and eyeball purchasing. The winners will focus on people, not logos.

Which will you do?

(image by Shutterstock, a Convince & Convert sponsor)

Facebook Comments


  1. says

    EXCELLENT article. Social shopping will be the biggest change in consumer shopping since the earliest days of e-commerce. Check Amazon selling one million 20 USD vouchers at 10 USD (in just 24 hours!)

  2. says

    Right on, Jay. It always has been and always will be about people and relationships – the things that endure. Very cogent analysis on your part. Thanks for your thinking.

  3. says

    Great Great Great Post! Could not agree more with this. It is a huge shift in the way people do business and businesses need to realize it and adapt to it. Well put Jay.

  4. says

    People want to save money… period. If someone shops at Victoria’s Secret regularly, you can be sure that they’ll love an email list that only promotes discounts.

    However, there is one distinction. Those types of promotional emails only work for people who have their community and story built and defined. If you’re looking to gain exposure, those self-serving emails probably won’t work. They would instead cheapen your brand and your products.

  5. Cheryl Pickett says

    This is a good reminder writing good content in general. Writing/creating for real people first and then worrying about the tech stuff, is a better place to begin. It’s easier to add some keywords into a story, in my opinion, than a story into keywords.

  6. says

    Great post, Jay! This is pretty much exactly in line with my thoughts on content, but it’s interesting to think about it through the lens of increased noise in special offers. Keep up the good work!

  7. says

    Great post Jay as always.

    So we’ve had SEO and email saturation, now we’re approaching social media saturation (before most companies have even started to get their heads around this truly astonishing phenomenon). What’s left – location marketing? What then? And what will the post-social media marketing world look like?

    • says

      My money is on telepathy.

      Actually, saturation doesn’t kill the medium. It’s just when segmentation and context and relevancy become critical success factors. That’s next for social. Microcasting, not broadcasting.

  8. says

    “The companies that succeed and break through the pile of social flotsam will be those that base their social efforts on humanization and storytelling, not on post-modern couponing and eyeball purchasing.” love it!! Any article that contains the word “flotsam” has to be good. 😉

    I agree with you 100% Jay! Traditional marketing methods have gone by the wayside and for business owners not jumping on the new social media marketing bandwagon… well my guess is they won’t be able to hold their heads above water for long.

    Consumers are schooling themselves more and more using this social mediums and you really have to get that it’s about the ‘individual’ … because that individual has now been given a voice that can have an huge impact on your business unlike before.

    Thanks for sharing this great article. All the best!

  9. says

    Not sure I’m totally in agreement with you, Jay. Yes, when everyone has offers, yours isn’t necessarily special. Yes, it needs to be about more than just offers. However, study after study shows that the majority of people don’t want to “engage” with brands. They don’t really want to chat with people at Coke or the Gap. They might be happy to be entertained by content from these brands, but they don’t really want a conversation with them.

    There are always going to be a set of people who are passionate about a brand and do want to engage. And a brand should connect with those people in a personal way, as you say. But what about the majority of people who connect with brands mainly for discounts, coupons, and specials? Or the lurkers who don’t really don’t interact?

    I think we’ll see social media strategies become more sophisticated with different strategies and approaches for these different types of users. Part of that should be to identify those who are passionate or might become advocates and connect. Part should be finding the people focused on offers and find ways to use social media to identify their goals and desires accurately, and then give them them the offers that they value most in a timely way. If I was connected socially with clothing stores for kids, and I could say that I needed new jeans for my growing son, and learn of sales coming up, that would be of real value to me. And I’d be glad to be connected with the brand in exchange for that.

    • says

      As I acknowledged in the post, yes today’s research shows that people want deals and often do not want to “engage” with brands. Is that because they don’t want to, or because brands aren’t engaging with them? Is it chicken, or egg?

      Indeed, the best case scenario is a segmented social strategy where you can send deals-only to people that only want deals, and focus humanization on those who prefer that approach. That’s the way email has evolved, and it’s the way social will evolve once the tools allow for segmented messaging.

      The idea is that if you didn’t have a discount, but still had to make a buying choice, you’ll give your dollars to the company that you know, like, and trust. Storytelling and humanization builds those bonds in ways a coupon never will. Of course, you’ll get customers if you continually want to focus on price and offers. But, thats a long-term failure from a business model perspective. If you have to buy loyalty via discounting and coupons, you don’t really have loyalty at all, do you?

      • says

        I agree that storytelling and humanizing is a great approach, as is conversing with those that want it. Just have to be realistic. There are people who can and will become loyal customers, given the right interactions, etc. There are others who are going to shop around. Mixed approach re: selling. Another thing I think will always pay off is better customer service (including info during the sales cycle). Being engaged and responsive to customers who have problems or questions is a big way to get loyalty. All about customer needs…

  10. Parissa Behnia says

    Great read as usual… but I wonder how this marries up with your 75 blogger winners who will get to keep one book and give one of your books away. To be clear, I’m a fan and champion of yours but I wonder if there isn’t a hint of contradiction here.


    Parissa Behnia
    678 Partners

    • says

      I’m not sure I follow. Most of the bloggers that applied, and nearly all of the winners, are already connected to me or Amber in some way. Either professionally, personally, frequent commenters, etc.

      Sure, some people probably applied just because they figured “hey, free book” but considering they have to read the book, write a review, and then launch their own contest to give one away, it’s substantially more of a participatory commitment than “click for coupon” don’t you think?

  11. says

    this article for social media marketing. thanks for sharing ,i read many article .but it article is best post .my advice all the people that same article daily read in his life .because same article improve my life .all article is message create in my life .thanks god.

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