Using Twitter or Facebook to bring in customers during a slow period is a terrific way to solidify brand loyalty and fill seats that might otherwise be empty. “You’re already appealing to your audience,” says Shankman. “Focus on making them happy, and they’ll tell everyone how great you are.” That’s social media done right.
What about Groupon or LivingSocial? The jury is still out. For some businesses, particularly those with high fixed costs, it can be a win-win. “The logic is you take a loss and people come back and pay full price,” says Shankman. But it doesn’t always pan out that way, he says. Instead, deal seekers swoop in at the business’s expense, never come back and enrage loyal customers in the process.