My Dad Should Stop Clipping Coupons on Friday Night and Just Go Online

“What if we give away 500 of these to consumers on launch day?”
 
“Let’s give coupons to a couple bloggers for their readers for 10% on that.”
 
I’ll admit it: I’m guilty of presenting ideas like the above in brainstorms or in PowerPoint decks. Sometimes just giving something away for free is the easiest way to “make news,” especially on social media. Of course, though — I mean, who doesn’t love getting something for free AND then talking about it?
 
There’s an increasing rise in specialized social media platforms and mobile applications that are allowing us to develop coupons and deals in unique ways for our clients and brands. Plus, those campaigns are allowing us to tell interesting social media stories and even get a little “traditional” press out of it.
 
Groupon, for instance, is a global phenomenon. If you’re unfamiliar, the site allows consumers to buy coupons for shows, restaurants, etc., together. In other words, for the coupon to become active, a certain amount of random strangers from around the world need to buy that discount together. For instance, Groupon is great for brands with retail stores that are looking to unload excess inventory, drive in-store traffic, etc.
 
Foursquare, if you believe the media, is also becoming a phenomenon. (I’m in that camp, too, as an avid user.) Foursquare is a mobile application that allows you to check in to locations ranging from a subway station to a retail store to your own apartment. You unlock virtual badges and earn rewards like becoming the “mayor” for checking in the most to a particular place. A number of top tier brands offer discounts to drive in-store traffic. RadioShack last week began offering 10% off to anyone who checked in, and 20% off to the mayors. Gap this past Saturday offered a whopping 25% to anyone who checked-in; originally supposed to last the day only, Gap is apparently considering keeping the promotion going longer. Gap not only apparently saw high sales, but high news volume, too — resulting in millions of impressions.
 
Postabon is a relatively new one. It’s a community-shopping platform where users find and share the best nearby deals that other uses can then find either through the mobile app or website. They launched first in New York but will expand with time.
 
 
Twitter is even using the deal trend as a way to test one of their first business models. Recently, they launched @earlybird, a Twitter profile that posts deals Twitter has with various business partners. It’s a business model option that makes a ton of sense, since posting about unique deals is something Twitter users are already doing — except this time, it’s easier to track. Most of @earlybird’s deals haven’t been buzzworthy yet, but it seems like Twitter is just getting started.
 
The days of my dad clipping coupons Friday night before going to the supermarket the next day are long gone. Platforms like Groupon, Foursquare, Postabon and Twitter are definitely changing the way brands not only offer deals to customers and potential customers, but also are changing the way those deals are shared out within your own social circle.
 
Do you have a favorite site or application you use for finding local deals? Leave it in the comments below, or as always, hit me up on @adanzis. I’m always looking for a good deal.

Alan has been with Ketchum for more than five years. Follow him on Twitter at @adanzis if you want rare insights about PR and social media, and tons of stuff about video games, technology and other sci-fi and nerdy things.