The top reason for following or liking a brand, company or celebrity on social networking sites is to receive discounts and special offers, according to a recent survey of global online consumers conducted by Nielsen. North American consumers showed the strongest interest in using social media for deals (45%), followed by consumers in Asia-Pacific (34%) and Latin America (33%).
Globally, online consumers of all ages reported that receiving discounts and special offers was their top reason for liking or following brands. Only respondents under the age of 20 and 55-59-year-olds were less likely to follow for this reason, reporting they primarily engage with brands via social media based on friends' recommendations.
While some may argue that consumers' interest in discounts has faded, Nielsen data shows the desire for deals is still strong worldwide. Across a sample of ten major markets*, nearly 40 percent of active Internet users visited Coupons/Rewards sites such as Groupon, Coupons.com and Living Social from home and work computers during September 2011. Compared to the same month last year, visits to these sites were up in each country except the U.K., and in seven of the ten countries, daily deal site Groupon was the most-visited site in the category.
In the U.S., NM Incite, a Nielsen/McKinsey Company, found that nearly 60 percent of social media users visit social networks to receive coupons or promotions, with 23 percent saying they do this on a weekly basis. When comparing visitors to Social Networks and Blogs and those who visit sites that offer coupons and rewards, there is strong overlap between the two categories. During September 2011, 43 percent of visitors to Social Networks and Blogs also visited a Coupons/Rewards site. Additionally, 44 percent of Facebook’s audience and nearly two-thirds (63%) of Twitter’s audience visited these sites. In fact, after email and search, Facebook was a key source of traffic to Groupon and Living Social during September - meaning Groupon's and Living Social's visitors came directly from Facebook - further demonstrating that social networking plays a key role in driving consumers to seek out discounts and special offers.
As the holiday shopping season approaches and with the economy still weighing on consumers' minds, brands and advertisers should consider leveraging social media to offer consumers incentives. Nielsen research indicates people will go for it - U.S. adults online who follow a brand or celebrity on social networking sites are 52 percent more likely than the average adult online to download an online coupon and nine percent more likely to shop online.
*Nielsen has meter-measured Internet data in 10 major markets: Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland, U.K. and U.S.