We don’t need to tell you how important social media marketing is during the holiday season. Study after study has shown that Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest influence the shopping journey, and results from a recent PwC survey indicate that the 2018 holiday season could be the most mobile-driven and social media-influenced one yet.

Clearly, when it comes to the topic of holiday marketing, the question isn’t “Should you be on social media?”. It should be: “What kinds of social media campaigns should you run?”  

And in an age when consumers are inundated with messages online, what can you do to stand out?

To shed light on these questions, here’s a compilation of holiday-centric social media tips and examples that other retailers have implemented successfully. Check them out and see if you can apply these to your strategy.

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1. Show people how you’re spreading the holiday cheer

How are you and your employees celebrating the holidays? Give your social media followers a look at the ways that you’re spreading the holiday cheer. Perhaps you’re engaging in charity work. Maybe you’re planning a wonderful Christmas party. Or maybe you’re just having some everyday fun in your stores.

Whatever it is, feel-good holiday posts are always popular on social media. Not only do they look great, but they also help your brand appear more fun and relatable, thus strengthening the connection that shoppers have with your company — and the people in it.

Consider what jewelry designer and retailer Kendra Scott did last year. As part of the #MakingSpiritsBright movement, Kendra and her team surprised a Southwest Airlines flight with goodies from the company. They even brought along Santa Claus wearing a yellow suit.

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2. Add real value

Resist the urge to keep pushing people towards an immediate sale. Be sure to balance out your social posts with useful and entertaining content.

High-value content can help your brand stand out from the sea of “BUY NOW!” messages and in some cases, can keep you top of mind with your customers during the holidays and beyond.

What types of content should you publish? That depends on your audience. If you’re an apparel retailer, why not shoot fashion how-to videos? If you’re selling cookware, then recipe books, plating resources, and cooking videos could do the trick. The key is to give people information or materials they can actually use.

Here’s an example from American Express. To get people to participate in Small Business Saturday, the company is giving away free, downloadable materials that retailers can use in-store.

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Note that “value” doesn’t always have to come in the form of practical or educational resources. Entertainment value can also go a long way, particularly if you’re catering to younger audiences.

A great example of this in action comes from Prada, which launched a short movie series entitled “The Postman’s Gifts” for the 2017 holiday season. Featuring celebrities like Elijah Wood, Emma Roberts, and Amber Valletta, the series celebrated the art of gift-giving.

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The series was heavily promoted on social media and was mainly available on Prada’s social accounts and website.

3. Run a giveaway

There’s nothing like a good old-fashioned giveaway to get consumers to pay attention. If you’re up for it, why not launch a contest around the holidays?

Start by determining your goal. Do you want to get more email signups or social media followers? Are you looking to generate engagement and conversations around your brand? Zero in on your objectives and go from there.

For instance, if the goal is to increase followers, conversations, or engagement, then your giveaway should encourage people to tag their friends and share content.

Check out this contest from Lush Cosmetics.

Right around the holiday season last year, Lush ran a #SwishUponaStar giveaway and offered people the chance to win a trip to the Lush factory. To participate, users had to share photos of their baths on social media and tag their friends.

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Here are some important takeaways from the Lush giveaway:

  1. The prize (a trip to the Lush factory) was highly relevant to the brand, and likely attracted entries from fans and existing customers — instead of people who just want to win a prize.
  2. The giveaway was perfect for social because it leveraged the actions and activities that people naturally do on social networks: posting photos and tagging their friends.

Keep these in mind the next time you run a social media contest. Start with a relevant prize, and then make sure that the required actions for participating feel natural to the medium you’re using.

4. Take advantage of shoppable posts

Showcasing your merchandise on social media? Then make your posts shoppable. Make it easy for people to go from being passive browsers to paying customers by enabling them to complete their purchase in just in a few clicks or taps.

The way to accomplish that will vary depending on the social network that you’re in and the tools that you’re using. If you’re on Facebook, there are several shopping cart solutions in the market, including ones from Shopify, Ecwid, and BigCommerce, among others. If you’re already selling online, see if your e-commerce platform offers a native Facebook app that you can use.

Instagram, on the other hand, has a feature that lets you tag products in your posts and Stories. Check out this photo from the luggage retailer Away, and notice how it contains clickable tags containing each product’s name, price.

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Shoppable tags can come in handy if you regularly share product photos on your page. Do note that the feature is only available to accounts that are approved for shopping on Instagram, so if you haven’t done so yet, follow the steps in this help article to get approved.

Once Instagram reviews and approves your account, you’ll have the ability to enable the feature in your settings.

5. Remarket to last-minute shoppers

If you have an advertising budget, consider allocating a portion of it to remarketing ads. Place the Facebook pixel on key pages of your website (like product pages) so you can remarket to users who checked out your products.

It’s best to implement this a week or so before a big holiday (e.g., Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.). Craft compelling messages around last-minute shopping and make sure they show up in the Newsfeed of users who previously visited your site.

You can also be more targeted and show people items that they’re most likely to buy. For example, if a user was checking out a specific pair of shoes but didn’t proceed to checkout, make sure your remarketing ads contain a similar (if not the exact) pair that the user was browsing.

Nordstrom does a good job with this. The company clearly tracks the pages I browsed on its website because, after a day or two of visiting Nordstrom’s website, I see a Facebook ad containing items that are very similar to the ones I looked at.

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6. Use countdowns

Countdowns can accomplish various objectives. They can help you tell stories, showcase merchandise, remind your customers of what’s coming up, or even instill a sense of urgency.

Whatever your goal is, see to it that your countdown is well-designed and accompanied by compelling content. And of course, don’t forget to promote it on social media.

Need some holiday countdown inspiration? Have a look at the following:

Tiffany & Co.’s countdown for gift ideas – A while back, jewelry retailer Tiffany & Co. used a nifty Facebook countdown to share gift ideas for the holidays. Entitled “A Very Merry Countdown,” the initiative featured “28 perfect gift ideas” for those shopping around for presents.

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Nordstrom’s 2017 holiday countdown – Last year, Nordstrom counted down the days before Christmas by posting holiday-centric Instagram posts for the first 25 days of December. These posts highlighted specific products, brands, or services that can be found in its department stores.

From Celine Dion serenading the brand’s followers to Nordstrom stylists dressing up Santa for the big day, each piece of content was highly entertaining and well-made. Nordstrom’s countdown did a wonderful job promoting the brand while building anticipation for December 25th at the same time.

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Final words

You still have time to craft winning social media campaigns for the upcoming season! With a bit of creativity, an inclination to provide value, and a strong holiday spirit, you’re bound to create inspired content that gets people’s attention — and business.

Do you have additional social media advice for retailers selling during the holidays? Let us know!

About the author:

francesanicasioFrancesca Nicasio is a freelance writer and content strategist who’s dedicated to writing about retail trends and tips that help merchants increase sales, improve customer service, and be better retailers overall. Her work has been featured in top retail industry publications including Retail TouchPointsStreet FightRetail Customer ExperienceVEND, and more. She’s also a featured thought leader on LinkedIn, and is followed by over 300,000 professionals on the site.

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