Amazon uses Snapchat to send exclusive deals

Black Friday arrives early as the e-commerce giant aims to attract more mobile-friendly shoppers.

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Amazon uses Instagram to promote its new Snapchat account. Screenshot by Donna Tam/CNET

Snap up these deals before they're gone in 10 seconds. Literally.

Amazon, the world's largest online retailer by revenue, hopes to boost sales with a new take on social shopping -- using a Snapchat account to send gift ideas, recommendations and exclusive deals that disappear in seconds. The company will send out its first "snap" on Thursday.

The account -- announced Wednesday alongside a new Instagram feed for its site and an early kickoff for Black Friday deals -- is Amazon's latest effort to grab the attention of shoppers glued to social networks on their smartphones and tablets. The company in May created a hashtag for Twitter that would let people put products in their Amazon shopping cart just by responding to a tweet.

The new Instagram feed encourages users to buy items posted to Amazon's profile. A click on the product image sends the user straight to the product page.

All about mobile

Half of Amazon's customers shopped from a mobile device during last year's holiday season, according to John Yurcisin, Amazon's director of social.

The online retailer knows it has to keep up with consumers' constantly growing presence on social media, Yurcisin said. And that's where Instagram and Snapchat come in.

"Instagram and Snapchat are the two of the fastest growing mobile social networks where people are engaging and interacting with each other in entirely new ways," Yurcisin said.

Instagram attracts roughly 40 million unique users who access the site only from their mobile devices, according to a May report from ComScore. Snapchat, which is only accessible through a mobile app, has 21.7 million users.

Both have rapidly growing mobile audiences, according to the report, with Instagram increasing its mobile users by 45 percent since last year.

Amazon is trying to tap into that trend by reaching out to social media followers.

Despite their potential for boosting sales, it's still too early to predict which social media services will have the greatest impact on consumers' buying habits, said Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali.

"It's all experimental," she said.

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