Is Social Media going to become just a new way to distribute coupons?

I've been a little concerned lately about talk suggesting that THE way to drive engagement in Social Media is to offer special deals.

Razorfish management had this to say when discussing the research they did on why people follow a brand, "...Marketers are assuming a deeper dialogue, but what's really going on is - people want deals." 

This isn't appealing to marketers who want to grow their customer base in 2010 without cutting into margin.  It's also a mis-read of the research.

Yes, 44% said access to exclusive deals is the main reason they follow a brand on Twitter (this just in: people like free stuff) but 56% said they follow for a different reason such as service, product news and entertaining content.  Here's the Razorfish research superimposed over a series of tweets from master marketer WholeFoods.

Twitter Razorfish Analysis

What particularly excites me is the 6% that are following a brand because their friend does.  What a great source of new business!  Recent research from eMarketer on what followers want from a brand showed a similar evenness between the deal & other information content like news, service and entertainment. 


Our own years of experience in blogging and social media have led us to base our social media plans around 6 types of tweets.  The list helps categorize the basic information needs of any online community and corresponding content ideas into 6 simple buckets that you can build an editorial calendar around.  With a nod to Steve Martin's great bar scene in the movie Roxanne here they are:

1. The News Tweet: "State of California announces tax break on plastic surgery!"

2. The Educational Tweet: "6 Ways to De-emphasize Facial Features: 1. Grow a mustache..."

3. The Entertainment Tweet: "Check out this list of Hollywood's 10 Best Noses..."

4. The Opinion Tweet: "How Facebook Ruined the Blind Date"

5. The Deal Tweet: "First 5 Customers To Say "Proboscis" To Staff At Our LA Office Get A Free Nose Job.  Go!"

6. The Customer Service Tweet: "Reminder: We're open till 10 p.m. on Valentine's Day"

By planning a diverse range of posts you use everything in your arsenal to tempt a more diverse range of fans to follow you and do it in a way that protects your margins.