Summer has said its goodbyes, and the road to the holidays is just around the bend.
As marketers, planning ahead is crucial, and given that most shoppers start their holiday gift gathering just after Halloween, it’s not too early to hang the social media ornaments. (Not to mention that Hanukkah begins the night before Thanksgiving this year.)
The holidays are the most crowded time on social media. It can be difficult standing out in the marketing frenzy before December, but it is essential that you get it right. Here are some tips and platforms that can help marketing, PR, and social media pros harness the power of the holidays:
The more the merrier: Plan multiple campaigns to increase engagement and sales. Design them to target niche audiences with specific rewards and gifts. Space them out, though; don’t release six different promotions in one week. Social marketing platform OfferPop reports that while brand holiday campaigns spike in the second week of December, there is a high fan participation rate in early and mid-November. That’s a great window to kick off holiday campaigns or introduce a heavy hitter, such as a holiday shopping spree contest or a one-day, half-off coupon special.
Coupons: Speaking of coupon specials, no, they’re not just for the crazies on TLC. Fans love getting discounts from brands during the holidays, and it’s an easy and obvious incentive to shop at a specific establishment for gifts. Coupons should have a small shelf life during the holidays, and can be offered in the form of codes (make graphics fans can share) or you can plan a more complex process, such as codes that, once used, unlock more savings.
Mobile coupons are essential. Make them easy to pull up at the register from the Facebook page or Twitter account. As OfferPop’s Mark Cooper states, “The download-and-print coupon days are well behind us. Make sure you’re making mobile a priority.”
Don’t neglect channels: Facebook is the network to focus efforts on, but don’t forget to use popular sites such as Instagram and Pinterest for holiday-themed campaigns. Niche campaigns specific to the networks are an obvious choice, such as winning a dream “board” or an outdoor photo and hashtag contest.
Allocate big budgets to social media during the holidays: Planning ahead means setting budgets for advertising, design, etc. Allocate the greatest amount of ad dollars for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the second week of December, as they are the highest traffic times. Give your campaigns plenty of attention, but also use your dollars on tactics aimed to increase your overall fan base. Sponsor posts, and buy ads.
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Run Timeline contests: Facebook’s recent announcement that contests no longer had to be run through a third-party app opened a door of opportunity for fan pages. Take advantage by running holiday-related contests on the Timeline to engage your fans. Ask for shares and “likes” so it’s more likely to be seen by friends of fans.
If you’re dry for contest ideas or you have a variety of pages you must monitor, consider using Post Planner. It just launched a feature that has more than 300 built-in contests you can pick from, quickly edit, and post directly to your page. Make sure they are holiday oriented.
The main idea is to plan far ahead and get creative. Give everything you do on social media a little touch of holiday magic or cheer. Don’t forget the green and red—not to mention the blue and white—holiday colors.