Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

This holiday’s shiny new toy: social media


iphoneCompanies that cater to consumers are always chasing after the latest consumer technology trend (anyone remember Second Life?), and this holiday season that means following them into the world of social media.

Companies ranging from Wal-Mart and Panda Express to J.C. Penney and Target are experimenting with Facebook, TwitterYouTube or Flickr. Some are tweeting special coupons or limited-time deals, while others are doling out fashion advice or providing play-by-plays from product launch parties on Facebook. M.A.C. said it is using its Facebook page to feature artists, color collections, and what is happening backstage at fashion shows. 

While figuring out if all this tweeting, posting and friending is increasing sales is difficult, companies said one thing is certain: Social media is giving them a direct, unfiltered link to consumers.

For instance, when Target asked its Facebook fans what they thought of its mens clothing line, they got suggestions like: “MORE MLB, NFL, NBA merchandise…” and “Could use a better selection of mens jeans, and tall mens shirts (not just dress shirts) too.”