As consumers and business owners hit the holiday shopping season in earnest, many of the former are no doubt looking for those businesses that offer the plastic option.
Despite reports that show fewer Americans have been using credit cards to pay for products and services in the last few years, meaning more consumers are trying to remove the mounds of debt they rang up over time, many shoppers still like to charge and pay later.
According to a RadiumOne report, the projection is that Americans would spend $1.42 billion on Cyber Monday (Nov. 26), which is 14 percent more than last year.
Meantime, social networks are expected to play a major role this year in the browsing and buying experience.
The report notes that 57 percent of shoppers will use social media to find discounts whereas 51 percent will use those same networks to glance over reviews. Of note, Facebook leads the way with 60 percent of shoppers using the site to locate deals and reviews.
The challenge for a large number of those shoppers, many of whom are doing more online shopping and avoiding the long lines and battles for parking spots, oftentimes comes down to locating which businesses accept credit cards online and which do not.
Things consumers should look for when using social media to review credit card options for making purchases include:
* Marketing efforts – More and more companies are investing time and energy to market themselves on social media. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest to name a few, there are in fact business owners who understand that not having a social media presence is a no-no in today’s fast-paced information world. It is not uncommon to see more businesses turning marketing efforts to social media venues to offer present and potential customers specials if they share or follow a company’s social media page or pages. Whether you are looking for brand new credit card offers or specials on the ones you currently have, checking out the different marketing options companies use on their cards via social media never hurts;
* Social media engagement – It is not enough in 2012 for companies to simply be on social media. They MUST engage the consumer and make individuals want to make them their first choice for products and services. Consumers should look for companies that update their social media sites regularly, deal with shoppers who questions and problems with making purchases or after-sale issues, and businesses that use social media professionally and do not talk down to customers when there is a credit card issue at hand;
* Links to information – One of the great ways for a company’s social media efforts to be successful is to link to information that will serve consumers. Whether it is an in-house blog, press releases, guest blogger or authoritative industry information for their respective niche, companies stand to gain when they better assist consumers. While many businesses are more than happy to see consumers using their plastic, especially during the holiday season, providing consumers with worthwhile information on how not to go into debt is a responsible thing to do. Finally, companies do not want to spam a consumer who is following them (see below), but providing them with useful information never hurts;
* Find companies who use social media in moderation – One of the biggest gaffes a business can make is in essence spamming consumers with too much information via social media. Consumers already get besieged with different credit card offers from companies on a regular basis via regular mail and email, so doing that on social media can certainly backfire. It is not uncommon for businesses to offer no interest charges for X amount of months if you sign up for their store credit card to make a significant purchase. If a company is using its social media page or pages to bombard you with information, deals, and other electronic media that prove not useful to you, all it takes to end it is a simple unfollow;
* Company interaction – Lastly, you can tell much about a company by whom they keep as friends. Look to see if the company you do or are considering doing business with has a steady stream of followers and friends, or if they struggle to gain much of a following. The bigger companies are obviously going to have thousands and thousands of people following/friending them on social media, but what about the smaller businesses that you are interested in doing business with?
When all is said and done, a company’s social media efforts are only as good as just that, the time and effort they put into them.
As you use your current credit card/s or look for deals on obtaining one from a business during the holiday shopping season and beyond, take credit for visiting a company’s social media pages to learn more about them.