Black Friday, the might-as-well-be-a-national holiday Friday after Thanksgiving traditional kick-off of the holiday shopping season, is less than two weeks away. If you’re still stockpiling newspaper weeklies or planning a predawn scavenger of stores, consider yourself outdated. Welcome to holiday shopping, 2.0.
More and more retailers are turning to social networks to reel in shoppers, offering exclusives and deals via Facebook and Twitter rather than your newspaper daily or press release. And an upside of the still-struggling economy is that the bargains are underway already, stretching Black Friday to Black November.
Use these tools to score the best Black Friday deals…today:
1) Facebook – Forget Farmville, spend your time on Facebook searching for deals. Retailers want to be your friend, so don’t be shy in ‘poking’ your favorite stores or ‘liking’ Black Friday-focused pages. Retailers are now using the site as a news destination too. Macy’s, for example, will release its Black Friday deals exclusively on Facebook on November 18, while retail giants Wal-Mart and Lowe’s have both already released their Black Friday ads through the site.
2) Twitter – Retailers also want you to follow them via their Twitter handle. Follow @Starbucks and you can fill up a friend’s Starbucks card account as a gift. Meanwhile, followers of @MacysInc recently got an alert for $5 off Wii games, while only @Staples’ followers were privy to an HP 20-inch wide-screen LCD Monitor marked down from $150 to $100.
3) Facebook Places Deals – What better time than the present to take advantage of the tool released by Facebook just this month that offers deals and coupons to users who “check in” at participating retailers. Just look for the yellow icon to see whether a redeemable coupon is nearby and then show your phone screen to an employer to grab your discount. Both Facebook and retailers are anxious to see this feature succeed, a clear advantage for mobile-savvy Black Friday shoppers.
4) Black Friday Sites – Compare deals by checking Web sites specializing in Black Friday ad releases, whether you plan ahead from your desktop or check new deals while you shop, using your smartphone. Bfads.net, BlackFriday.com, BlackFriday.FM, tgiBlackFriday.com and TheBlackFriday.com are among the best.
5) Text/Emails/Apps – Discounted shopping? You knew there would be an app for that. Download the “BlackFriday2010″ app for your iPhone and you can search online deals, download ads and see products on sale at more than 100 stores. Join the email list of your favorite stores for sale alerts, and don’t forget to bargain hunt through text messages either. Gap is guaranteeing at least two personalized text deals for anyone who signs up for Gap Mobile 4 U via a secure Visa.com page. BrandsMart USA and Amazon are two more major retailers making big splashes this year with texts for special deals.