170 million – that’s roughly the number of people who load their shopping carts on Thanksgiving weekend alone. It is also more than the entire population of Russia, which still falls short by a couple million.
Let that sink in for a moment.
That fact alone should be more than enough incentive for your brand to start prepping your holiday campaigns in advance.
However, for those who may be a little late to the party, or had to change strategy at the last minute, rest assured it’s not particularly uncommon. Marketing campaigns, especially those designed for social media, can go through multiple changes right up until launch. With Thanksgiving weekend imminent—including #Thanksgiving, #BlackFriday, #SmallbusinessSaturday and #CyberMonday (whew!)—it can be hard to get all your brand messaging on point.
Even if your marketing campaign is out there already, it’s never too late to examine it against the backdrop of the high-octane holiday weekend and see if your brand’s social media strategy is working. That’s why we drew up this list to move you along, or just help put the final touches to your holiday campaign:
Don’t dial down on the value
Unlike other holidays, Thanksgiving week is four days of back-to-back global consumer splurge. So the value of what they’re investing in becomes a big theme at this time of the year. For your brand, this could mean offering a big concession sale, upgrading your product or service or anything that catches your customer’s eyes. This is the time to offer more than what others are willing to because value is literally everything consumers are looking for. Standing out from the competition requires rethinking what substantial value-add you are providing as a brand this season, whether it’s:
-> Value by price
-> Value as an add-on to the product/service
-> Value as an overall customer experience
Forget the hit-or-miss campaign strategies
Advertising and marketing costs in this quarter can be substantially higher due to a consumer focus on spending. So if you’re a growing brand who has to be cautious of ad and marketing spend, and are running on a not-so-generous budget, only make investments that make sense. Promote posts that show potential, and invest in ads that are well-crafted. Junk the so-so pitches and don’t just put it out there and add to the noise. There are no participation prizes here.
Is your current campaign the best your brand can do right now or are you holding on to a better one, thinking, “maybe save this for later”? There are going to be thousands of other brands going all out with their holiday offerings—so make sure you put your high-end propositions on the table and trash the placeholders.
Capitalize on the right social media channels
Before this devolves into a strategy-first approach, remember where you’re strategizing is just as important as what you’re strategizing. The social channels you use to pivot your holiday campaign are just as important as the strategies you implement on them. For instance, Google My Business listings are a great way to let the world know what you’re doing for the holiday weekend. Since your GMB listing is built to fetch your business views from a local audience, you can optimize content for this space effectively—promotions on fresh deals, updates and discounts find a natural home in these listings take up a nice big space in local search engine results and reach the most relevant audience.
Mainstream social media corners like Instagram Stories are also a great promotional space and are being increasingly used by brands to share special deals, coupons, make brand announcements and more. While it’s still easy to duck these on some networks, you can’t completely escape brand related promotions on networks like Instagram. You can use that to your favor by putting out your best promotional content right here.
Of course, many small businesses and boutique stores are using Instagram stories and posts to build interest for what they’re selling—but they’re also using this to smartly improve their overall engagement rates and social media presence. By using social channels as the go-to point for customers to avail discount codes, participate in online contests for giveaways and other sale related campaigns, they not only push holiday shoppers towards the checkout page but also towards the follow button! Two birds, one stone and a very neat marketing strategy, all in all!
Optimize mobile and in-app branding
A big chunk of Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales are increasingly happening via mobile devices. This makes it the perfect time to be looking at optimizing your social media marketing for smartphones, and your in-app branding and promotions.
Let not the mobile-audience be an afterthought and ensure that all your branding efforts flow seamlessly into adding value to the time someone spends with your product or service’s page.
Sounds pretty easy, right? Here’s the clincher—while a sizable chunk of holiday engagement and sales come from these corners, a constant barrage of ads and in-app ads can get annoying very quickly. Multiple announcements can seem like noise. Tread with caution and keep an eye open for spammy, redundant brand messaging that can hurt you more than it helps.
Market a brand image, not just your product or service
Even if prospects and sales aren’t on the upswing, you can still make your holiday marketing a success. The trick is to sell more than just your product or service and promote your brand’s voice by joining in the spirit of the season. For instance, a couple of years ago, an outdoor clothing company Patagonia, taught us a thing or two when they announced that all their BlackFriday sales would be donated to helping the environment.
All revenue raked in during the day was funneled into environmental causes, which won them much more than a quick holiday season profit. It built on their brand reputation—one that’s resonant with good social media marketing and helps generate long-term business. This also added value to the customer’s time and money, as their decision helped with an important cause.
Be it a large, charitable donation, or finding a good way to channel your holiday sales, look beyond just inventory and sales to build a good rep for your brand.
Listen and act on live feedback
Once the first phase of marketing activities has launched, it’s time to gauge the engagement and feedback. Is your audience actively engaging? Are they liking what you’re saying? And most importantly, what do they want from your brand?
To really add value, knowing your audience and listening to their needs is paramount. If you’re not listening carefully and watching live feedback, you’ll never know the answers to any of these questions. If you keep your social listening on high, you may discover exactly what your target audience needs and be able to strategize a better way to provide it!
And in the unlikely scenario that you’ve launched a rather, erm, terrible campaign—or one that backfired for some reason—social listening helps minimize the damage and manage the impact on your brand.
But, we’d rather you make the best campaigns that not just make sense for your brand, but also rise above the noise—and having a checklist always helps!