As it turns out, Facebook and Twitter could actually be your best friends this holiday shopping season. All that sharing (and oversharing) you witness by your friends, family and colleagues online each day is leaving a trail of clues for “Santas” everywhere.
If you’re looking to really hit some homeruns with your holiday gifts this year, here’s an idea for you: Listen and pay attention to what your loved ones are saying on Facebook and Twitter. What products do they “like”? What brands do they “like”? What stores have they “checked-in” at while shopping? What brands are they following on Twitter? These are all signals about the kinds of gifts they might like to receive.
Rather than obsess over what’s hot this year, deals and coupon sites, use the Internet to investigate. You could spend an hour or two combing through your loved ones’ Facebook pages and Twitter feeds, or you could make it even easier by using Springpad, a free app that aggregates all your friends’ “likes” in one place. I recently did this, for instance, and discovered that my aunt likes the Pittsburgh Steelers, Crate and Barrel and Stephen King novels. Bingo! That’s some great fodder for gift ideas.
Likewise, I’ve been witnessing a friend rave about Virgin Airlines on Twitter every time he takes a business trip to Washington, D.C. While I can’t really afford to buy him a plane ticket, I do know that he’s taking a lot of business trips. I’ll likely buy him something to make his travels easier or a bit more relaxing – a sleek travel bag or perhaps tickets to an evening jazz show next time he’s in the nation’s capital.
Online wish lists are another great resource this holiday season. If your friends and family are not already using wish lists at Amazon and other retailers, give a shout out about them on Facebook and Twitter to encourage them to get started. You could say something like, “Want me to buy you a gift this year? Send me a link to your wish list so I can get an idea of what you want.”
If you want to organize your efforts even further, there are mobile and web apps available that enable you to pull your gift list together and get alerts when deals are happening or set reminders to attend an in-store bargain extravaganza. Springpad is great for this, as well as pulling together all your friends’ “likes” and “check-ins” to one place. The free app can enhance your gift list by highlighting recommendations and relevant offers that can save you money.
This may seem like a guerilla approach to creating your holiday gift list this year, but it’s actually pretty smart. You’ll be drawing insights about your friends and family that likely passed you by throughout the year, and they may even be surprised to know that you’re listening! Either way, they’ll love your for giving them gifts they actually wanted, and you may end up being coined Social Santa of the Year.