So I’m a little critical of the concept of social buying. Sites like Groupon, Living Social, Tippr, and all of the others I haven’t stumbled on yet, offer the ability to get great deals on a variety of local deals. There are some caveats with this craze.

1. Don’t buy something you wouldn’t normally. If you are not careful this is just another form of peer pressure to buy things you don’t need, but look cool. You might think, “There are 400 people signing up for this deal, it must be good!” even though the chances of you going rock climbing are severely diminished by your desire to keep both feet on the ground.
2. Read the fine print. You may not be able to use the deal the way you think. If you only visit a particular restaurant on happy hour, prepare for already special pricing to be extremely discounted.
3. Do the math (and visit the company website). So let’s say you buy a massage from social buying site, with 400 other people. When you go to the website to schedule your appointment, you find out that only 3 therapists in the spa accept your coupon. You might have to wait well over a month to schedule your appointment.
Even though there are some potential negatives, I am not immune from social buying. One of my very favorite local bars had a coupon on a social buying site. I get $20 worth of food and drink for $10, for a place I would already go to. I was excited.
Social buying can have a very positive impact for both consumers and providers, as long as it doesn’t just become a new way to “keep up with the Jones’s.”