News this Week: Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Niche Social Networks

What should you be paying attention to this week?

Don't forget about some of those smaller, niche social networks, like Instagram, Pinterest, Foodspotting, and one of my favorites, Ravelry, which is for knitters. (Mashable)

Holiday cheer from Flickr user John-Morgan.
Your takeaway: Think about applications for these carefully. It can be time and energy-consuming to put yourself on yet another social network, but if you can make one of these work for you, you'll have far less competition on something like Pinterest than, say, Facebook.

Black Friday 2011 has been judged a success, with the National Retail Federation estimating sales up $11.5 billion over 2008 sales and up $7.5 billion over last year. Retailers really pulled out all the stops this year - some even opening on Thanksgiving itself to boost sales. Many (though unfortunately not all) consumers had a better year in 2011 than 2010 - paying off debt and saving more, leading to more spending this year.

Cyber Monday 2011 was also bigger than ever, a 33% jump over last year, with social media and mobile (especially tablet) use contributing to the numbers in more significant ways. Customers looked for recommendations, shared deals, and did their comparison shopping, and ended up spending more than expected.

Your takeaway: I hope your Thanksgiving strategies boosted your business this year too, but there are still plenty of people who aren't going to be able to give their families the holiday they wish they could without a little help. Enough people had a better year this year to boost holiday retail sales, but there are still millions of people out of work who could use a boost. If you have means, consider giving a little more to your favorite charity this year.

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