Mia Pearson

Social media bring coupons into digital age

Special to The Globe and Mail

screen capture from Simply Good Technologies website (Simply Good Technologies)

Trying to figure out what works on social media and what doesn’t has become a high-stakes game. Worldwide, companies are spending like never before to find creative marketing solutions to connect with potential consumers.

They’re competing for a share of increasingly fragmented attention. Statistics show that users will engage, but they want something in return.

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On Facebook, 57 per cent of people say they follow brands because they want to receive discounts and promos, according to one study , which was reported on Mashable, and 32 per cent of people on Twitter admit to retweeting something because they were being offered an incentive, according to this infographic by WhitefireSEO

I sat down with Winston Mok, chief executive officer of Simply Good Technologies, a digital coupon company aiming to bring one of the most tried and true forms of incentives to social media.

Simply Good was recently recognized for its innovation as the only Canadian company chosen to take part in Tech Stars, a top U.S. startup accelerator program.

We talked about his company and how social media is making coupons a great way to offer incentive to consumers.

Q: How did Simply Good get started?

A: We founded the company in 2008 after leaving Research in Motion. We left with a blank slate open for ideas, uncertain of what exactly we would do. After trying a few different directions, we started doing mobile app development for clients including Scotiabank, Visa and Canadian Tire. In working with one of our major retail customers, we were able to explore the consumer space, and start focusing on digital couponing.

Q: What opportunity did you see?

A: We saw clear pain points in how paper coupons lacked limited-use and unique tracking, so we set on the path to solve this problem and explore the possibility of going digital. Digitization enabled us to analyze the relationship between customers and how purchases were influenced. There was a real opportunity to use social media to help brands and retailers leverage existing customers to market to new customers.

Q: How does social media drive your company’s success?

A; Social media is the most powerful piece of our product. We’ve seen that when consumers receive coupons from their friends via social media, they’re five times more likely to redeem them than if they came from a brand or retailer. This translates into higher redemption rates for our clients. And it’s great for consumers, because their friends act like filters, directing coupons to people they think would value them, and feeling a sense of empowerment from sharing.

Q: What social media trend are you watching?

A: It’s not really a trend, but we’re still keeping an eye on Facebook. The size of their user base is going to make it harder and harder for any alternative to truly displace them. We see it becoming even more of a representation of your online self. We expect to see Facebook seamlessly connected to every facet of online life. This will make for a great user experience, but it will also raises serious privacy concerns that will be very challenging to address.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mia Pearson is the co-founder of North Strategic . She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing communications agencies, and her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle.

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