Web pages, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts have become a staple of businesses. The newest trend are dealmakers such as Foursquare (a mobile application allowing participants to "check in" at locations and win small rewards), Scoutmob (e-mails that promise discounts at hot spots in cities such as Washington, though not yet Baltimore) and LivingSocial (a Groupon-like deal site).
Groupon was launched in 2007 as a means of organizing social action, including special deals for groups. The Chicago-based company now sends a daily e-mail to 11 million mainly young subscribers who get 50 percent to 90 percent off a service or product such as pottery classes or restaurant meals. A deal is offered for up to 24 hours and a negotiated number of sales are required for the deal to go through. When it does, Groupon takes a cut.
The health industry recently has jumped on this e-bandwagon — seeing some successes and taking some hits — as it tries to capitalize on new opportunities in social media, say health care providers and media experts.