Harvesting Social Media For the Holidays

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

social-media-laptopThe next few months will be exciting times for social media marketers who have building their social media fan base. After months of planting the seeds of good social media marketing, the time has come for business owners to reap the benefits in increased sales and brand awareness over the next few months. In fact, there will be three distinct peaks to social media traffic that business owners can use to aid in the harvesting. This article will show why and how businesses can monetize their social media audiences this holiday season.

Using social media to promote products and increase sales during the holidays makes sense because of the nature of social networks and Christmas. People are online searching to find out what products their loved ones are excited about, to find specials from their favorite stores, and to plan shopping excursions with friends and family (which often include stops to restaurants). These are all functions at which social media marketing excels. Business owners who properly use their social media networks to address these consumer needs will have an advantage over their competitors who haven’t built up a social media following or who aren’t using it effectively.

The first thing social media marketers need to do is take a moment to analyze the demographics of their fan base. Marketers should check things like age ranges, genders, locations, etc. to make sure their marketing efforts will appeal to the actual fan base. For example, if a business that usually targets men is using Pinterest to market their goods, the content needs to at least be female-friendly since 80% of the people on Pinterest are women. In this example, the business may consider marketing their products as the perfect gift a woman can buy for a man. It’s similar to something Donald Rumsfeld once said, “You go to war with the army you have, not the one you might want or wish you have.” By analyzing their fanbase first, social media marketers are able to make the most of their available fanbase.

There are three peaks to social media activity around the holiday season and social media marketers can take advantage of each. The first occurs around mid October to early November. This is the perfect time to start educating customers about the products and services businesses would like them to buy this holiday season. Though most people don’t start Christmas shopping until late November, the fact remains that businesses need to ensure that the organization’s wares are at the forefront of consumers’ minds when they do start shopping. Marketers need to ensure that they have high-quality images and video of available products. A study from Accenture based on the shopping data from the 2012 holiday season showed that posts with high-quality multimedia content performed better than text only posts.

The second peak in social media activity occurs in December. People are talking about their holiday plans, shopping trips, and the big day itself. This is the time to use Christmas-themed backgrounds and promotions on social media. It may seem like a no brainer, but it’s worth mentioning that in the Accenture report, every post that was Christmas or Santa-themed had higher engagement than generic posts during the holidays. When planning a social media campaign for the holidays be sure to include any information about charitable works or campaigns the organization is a part of. Though it may seem counterintuitive, posts about charitable works performed better than posts about discounts.

According to Accenture, “Campaigns focused on social and charitable causes created more conversation during holidays compared with posts offering a discount, requesting a survey response or making a general statement.”

Social media marketers also need to be sure that they are integrating their social media with their e-commerce, in-store, and mobile shopping solutions. While social media is a powerful way to promote products and build brand awareness, the numbers are less stellar for directly selling things to people. For the most part, people can’t shop on social media, to do that, they will still need to go to a website, use a smartphone app, or drive to the actual store. By connecting social media marketing efforts to marketing campaigns can boost overall sales by putting consumers in a sales funnel that starts when their interest is piqued by a post on social media to when they make the final purchase on their preferred sales channel.

The final holiday-related boost to social media occurs right after the holidays. People are talking about the products they received and this creates opportunities for marketing and customer service. Social media marketers can prepare for this and take advantage of this by writing posts that help introduce newcomers to the social media channel and being prepared to answer service related questions.  Properly managing this third jump in social media traffic can increase an organization’s fanbase and make them look better in the eyes of the public.

Ultimately, the holidays are the best time to capitalize on the investments business owners have made in social media marketing. Over the next three to four months, there will three boosts to social media activity that business owners can use to increase sales and brand awareness at a time when it matters the most. Best of all, by growing the fanbase this holiday season, social media markets sow the seeds for a bigger harvest next year.

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