Corporate Eye

In-Store Lines Can Hurt Brands Online This Holiday Shopping Season

holiday shopping mallLast week was a huge week for retailers as shoppers ushered in the holiday shopping season by taking advantage of big sales.

With big sales and lots of shopping happening, it makes sense that retail brands got a lot of exposure in social media conversations last week. However, it wasn’t expensive commercials or big sales that people were talking about on sites like Twitter and Facebook.

According to the Advertising Age Brand Chatter Chart (powered by Bluefin Labs), most people were tweeting and posting about the lines they were waiting in at retail stores so they could make their holiday purchases. That means retail  and consumer product brands have another social media reputation management metric to track which could have a significant impact on sales during the holiday season.

Advertising Age shared some tweets that frustrated consumers published last week, and many of those tweets are ones which those brands need to address — not just through social media engagement but also through improved brand experiences at the retail level.

For example, a consumer at a Toys ‘R’ Us retail store published a tweet that asked people to “pray for me” or “send booze” to help him get through the negative experience he was living through as he waited in line to make his purchases. Another consumer tweeted about Old Navy saying, “Got up at 5am. 2nd in line at Old Navy. And it’s winter outside.”

Neither of these tweets paint the respective brands in a positive light. If enough consumers publish these kinds of tweets and social media posts while they’re waiting in line at specific retail locations or trying to purchase a specific branded product, it could have a significantly negative effect on brands’ sales.

I’m willing to bet that very few retailers and consumer product brands, which are popular for holiday gift giving, are tracking these types of tweets and conversations at all. Let’s hope that they take notice and take the appropriate steps to alleviate the frustrations of standing in long lines during the holiday shopping season before tweets from bored and annoyed consumers take a bite out of critical holiday revenues.

What do you think? Is your brand tracking these types of seasonal tweets and social media conversations this holiday season? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Image: Korosy Istvan

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for and, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as,,, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.