In our last blog of the series, we saw the importance of planning your retail production cycle to ensure a smooth selling process during the holidays. But, stocking up on products in only half the battle. You also have to focus on grabbing the attention of the right audience through your social media channels.
While there are many aspects to building a successful social campaign, we’ll be focusing on how to engage your fans during the holiday season.
Make Them Feel Special
The holiday season is when literally hundreds of brands start pawing at customers trying to get their attention. This means customers develop an even more acute filter to drown out the noise from most brands.
At this time, any brand which takes a break from ‘selling’ and focuses on making the customer feel special will not only stand out from the crowd but instantly gain favour with customers.
Best of all, you don’t have to use incentives to achieve this. A simple but genuine token of gratitude or holiday cheer is enough to get you noticed. Since you already have a database of customers, you can start by sending out a holiday greeting card with a personalised message.
Consider adding a company photo in a festive theme to let your customers see the faces behind the brand they like. If you have the time and the correct information, a postcard or small letter in the mail is a good way to get past the digital distractions of other brands and make sure customers remember you. To ensure, this offline activity resonates with your social presence, create a hashtag and ask users to upload a photo with their personalised letter to your Facebook page or Twitter handle.
You could also consider creating a small ‘thank-you’ item from your catalogue and sending them out to customers. Again, to help this tie back to your social campaign for the holiday season, ask customers to send in positive experiences they’ve had with your brand and reward each of the entries with this ‘thank-you’ item.
Lastly, you could also engage customers by using their pictures in a special way across your social media. Ask them to send your holiday themed pictures of themselves (preferably posing with your products too) and create an exclusive gallery of these images. Maybe even (with their permission) use them on your site as the backdrop for the holiday season campaign.
Give Them The Inside Scoop
Every customer wants to enjoy special treatment from they brands they like. If you can make them feel like they have an inside track on the best deals, customers are likelier to spend more money on your brand, simply because they feel privileged.
One of the critical ways to achieve this is by being a little more attentive on milestone days during the holiday season (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Boxing Day). On these days, every customer is scouring the web for bigger, better deals. Show your fans you value their commitment to your brand by offering them exclusive invite-only deals. Give them advanced access to the sale before it opens to the public. Maybe even let them reserve a few items a day ahead.
You could also use your existing fans to drive more traffic in-store during the holiday season. As the rush of the season begins to build up, you could hold in-store previews of some of the limited edition items you plan to sell during the holidays.
Alternatively, you could combine online and offline purchasing by giving your fans a discount for your online store when they drop by your physical store and make a purchase.
As always, use these face-to-face interactions with your fans to build valuable content for your social channels especially Facebook and Instagram. You can also leverage these interactions to gather valuable feedback from customers who use your brand regularly.
Pander To Their Needs
While you must spend time building goodwill with your fans, you must also make the time to focus specifically on their needs during the holiday season. For starters, all your fans will be sweeping the web for gifting ideas. This is a perfect opportunity for you to capitalise on a genuine need and demonstrate value to your loyal customers beyond just your product line.
Start by creating a content series on gift ideas. This could be anything from a blog post with ideas to just a tweet of something quirky to add as a stocking stuffer. But be careful. If you use this opportunity only to promote your own products, you look like you’re advertising rather than being helpful. So, make sure you think outside of your own products for gift ideas.
Don’t be afraid to think laterally. The holidays are as much about food as it is about gifts. See if there are ways, you can incorporate recipes or food tips into your social calendar. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or divert too much from your core brand. But even just a few well-placed mentions of food around the holidays (eggnog, Christmas pudding, Christmas cookies) adds a little holiday warmth to your brand tone and goes a long way in helping fans make a more personal connection.
Finally, think practically. One of the most fun tasks around the holidays is decorating. Yet, it can quickly become the most daunting as well (just ask anyone who’s had to untangle a string of fairy lights). If you can offer practical, easy-to-accomplish decorating tips, you are bound to be a hit with your fans. Again, you don’t have to go too deep into the subject, just enough to keep it useful yet light-hearted.
If there is a way, you can help fans find what they are looking for, outside of just shopping you will instantly be seen as a brand that cares. And in turn, that perception actually leads to more sales.
Keep The Conversation Going
The holiday season is probably the noisiest time across social media. And asking brands to actually ‘talk more’ may seem counterintuitive. But if you have fans that care about your brand, they actually want to hear more from you around the holidays but only as long as it’s engaging and relevant.
One way to keep a healthy conversation going is to build a bank of rich posts. Maintain a good mix of visual and video based posts. Try to find interesting ways to merge your product line into the holiday theme (for example, you could try setting up a Christmas tree featuring your product line as the decorations).
Also, be adventurous. Around the holiday season, most brands tend to follow a similar festive colour palette and after a few days of browsing, many consumers develop a blind spot for such blanket messaging.
If you’re looking to escape this trap, don’t just stick to churning out content to fill your calendar for the holiday season. Experiment with channels such as SnapChat and even Periscope to add a sense of quirkiness to your messaging in this season.
Also, make sure to schedule your posts in advance. Whether its blogs, Facebook or twitter posts, make sure you get a head start on writing them, right now. While your campaign calendar organizes the big picture of how your promotions and blog posts interact, create a separate social media content calendar to track your posts across all of your social media channels.
And as you form your calendar, don’t be afraid to repurpose social posts across your various channels. Use the time leading up to the holiday season to perfect the content and voice of your posts, as well as plan optimal timing. The more you do now, the more you can focus your social media efforts on responding to customers once the holiday season is in full swing.
Be sure to add reviews to product pages. This may not sound like a conversation channel, but around the holidays it certainly can become one. As a brand, consumers don’t always have to talk to you to get an informed opinion. Sometimes, they need to hear from other customers too. In fact, according to BazaarVoice, 71 percent of consumers change their perception of a brand after seeing how they respond to reviews.
And if your fans write you good reviews, you can leverage that as social currency across your other social media channels. Conversely, if you receive negative reviews, you can turn a successful resolution of the issue into a social media story.
Reviews also act as a great litmus test to let you know which products are doing well (and are likely to do well through the holiday season). It also lets you find the squeaky wheels in your inventory and adjust your shelf space accordingly in near real-time.
Consider Giving Back To The Community
The holiday season is a season of giving, even for retailers. Consider a charity or cause you can donate a percentage of your revenue to for a portion of the holiday season.
Since nearly 90% of consumers say they would switch to a charitable brand given similar price and quality, it is likely worth it for your business. Once you pick a cause, look for opportunities to add a social spin to your efforts and encourage your followers to share your posts with special promotions.
In conclusion, remember that it costs more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. And existing customers serve a dual purpose of buying your products and being brand advocates. But in order to achieve that, you have to make them feel valued and appreciate their efforts on an on-going basis.
This goodwill from loyal customers goes a long way in steering newer customers towards your brand during the already crowded holiday season. Now that we’re getting closer to the holiday season kick off, look out for our next blog on making sure you’re on top of all your production and delivery deadlines.