The latest forecast for this holiday sales season is $965 billion – a number big enough that no savvy business should dare to miss out. Unfortunately, as you’re probably already aware, this rich retail environment results in a lot of white noise when it comes to holiday promotions. With what seems like every other business out there running splashy ads in magazines and on every TV channel, it can be difficult to see where and how you’ll stand out if you don’t have a big budget.
Fortunately, there are other options to explore that don’t have to bust your holiday marketing budget. Social media gives companies of any size and budget access to millions of people through both paid and organic advertising. If you want to build the kind of buzz that leads to sales this holiday season, here are essential elements your holiday social media strategy must have.
To Craft Your Holiday Social Media Strategy. . .
Choose the Best Platforms
In order to avoid having your company become a social media holiday horror story, be choosy about which social media platforms you’ll use. Don’t try to be on so many platforms and post so often that you tax your staff and resources beyond their abilities.
Unfortunately, being too busy and multitasking on social media can lead to abandoned feeds or, even worse, nightmare stories of mistakes gone viral. Instead, focus on the platforms where your paying customers are most likely to be, and be consistent about how you’ll engage them on these networks.
Create Social Media Only Promotions
One way to increase engagement over the holiday season when crafting your holiday social media strategy is to offer special deals only to those who follow you on social media. The likelihood is high that people will share these deals with their friends and family by sharing and retweeting, leading to additional followers and brand exposure.
Whether it’s free gift wrapping in your store or a special discount on an online purchase, use social media based promotions to your benefit.
Advertise Free Shipping
Go straight to your customers to find out what they want most. According to one recent survey, 46.7% of consumers said free shipping or other shipping promotions are important factors in their decision of where to shop. And since consumers plan to spend 46% of their shopping dollars online this holiday season, this is an important consideration.
If you’re able to offer free shipping without destroying your profit margins, make sure your social promotions mention this perk, or offer special “free shipping” coupon codes to your social media followers alone.
Use Giveaways to Build Your Email List
Because people interact with businesses so much more frequently during the holidays, it’s a great time to use social media to run a list-building giveaway. People are always interested in freebies and deals, but that interest reaches a fever pitch in November and December. And you can harness this to build a list that you’ll be able to leverage into the new year.
You can take advantage of this when crafting your holiday social media strategy by doing a drawing, creating an online game, or awarding something to followers who share a specific promotion with their family and friends on social media. Just be sure you’re aware of the social media platform’s Terms of Service, as well as any local rules and restrictions, surrounding contests. The last thing you want is for your holiday giveaway to be shut down after running afoul of local laws.
Use Pictures and Video
All social media platforms, even Twitter, report higher user engagement when pictures are a part of the post that’s shared. To take advantage of this interest, find or create pictures and videos that share specific deals, or simply post pictures that give a behind-the-scenes look at your store during the holidays.
Creative companies even use pictures and video to create social media games – anything from a scavenger hunt to an animated challenge – to engage customers and drive additional sharing of their content. Even if you don’t have the resources to create a JibJab-like experience (in 2007, the company’s “Elf Yourself” campaign generated 193 million website visitors for OfficeMax), you can still use pictures and videos on a smaller scale to pique your customers’ interest.
Personalize the Customer Experience
Customers love a personalized shopping experience. When crafting your holiday social media strategy, take advantage of the data available on social media, from your followers’ location to their ages and interests, to personalize their experience accordingly.
For example, use the targeting features of Facebook ads to reach a very specific demographic with your message. You can also refer to you customer by their online name in comment replies and keep up a dedicated customer service presence on social media. Essentially, the idea is to find ways to wow your customers during the holidays to drive repeat business during the rest of the year.
Provide Great Customer Service on Social Media
No sales funnel is complete without the amazing customer service needed to drive repeat business and referrals after the holidays. Just don’t think that you’re limited to launching promotions and facilitating customer interactions on social media. Many companies, including JetBlue and Nike, rock at customer service across Twitter and beyond.
However you reach your customers, it’s crucial that you know how to respond quickly to questions and complaints, and how and when to direct an unhappy customer off social and into a phone call or email conversation. Don’t stop at tracking mentions of your company. Track keywords and hashtags as well to find opportunities to respond to even more customers.
I know you’ve already got a lot on your plate, but a holiday social media strategy helps ensure you don’t miss out on the billions of dollars that will be spent online this holiday season. By incorporating these seven must-haves into your business’ holiday social media strategy, you’ll be well on your way to holiday sales success.
What’s the most vital part of your holiday social media strategy?
Like Image via Shutterstock
This is part of the Small Business Trends holiday article series featuring tips, advice and news about the latest holiday trends taking place in today's business world. Check out our Business Gift Giving Guide for more.More in: Holidays