With the winter months come cooler temperatures, seasonal beverages, and shopping-packed weekends. Between Black Friday and Christmas, November and December are the most significant shopping months of the year, which can be both good and bad for businesses. Companies have the opportunity to increase sales and gain new customers, but businesses are also fighting for any and every piece of the market.
Beating out the competition requires more than deep discounts and expedited shipping, though—you need a comprehensive social media strategy for communicating with customers and promoting your best deals. Whether your business is social media savvy or newer to the game, implement this five-step strategy, so you’re ready for a successful holiday marketing campaign.
1. Plan everything in advance
We’ve all heard the horror stories of ill-timed tweets and Facebook posts with broken links. Social media is not the strategy to wing or take day by day. When possible, start planning your social promotion strategy as early as possible—both for posts and how you’ll respond to customers in those posts.
Kristen Baker at HubSpot writes, “When working on a social media marketing campaign, you want to connect with your audience both on a surface level — through a follow, comment, or a ‘like’ — and on a deeper level — through a relatable post that gets them feeling a certain way about your brand or products.”
In the early months, plan out who you want to target and on which social media platforms. As you approach the holiday season, develop a daily schedule. Include specific copy and even response messages for each post that you can customize as needed. Most social media outlets allow you to schedule posts, so make sure you do your research on the best times of day to post. You’ll also want to make sure you set a regular cadence, such as once per day, to keep consistent.
2. Reflect on last year
The best thing about making mistakes is the opportunity to learn from them. Whether the previous year was a complete success or total bomb, review the posts you created and platforms you used, along with the analytics. Most social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, provide in-depth analytics reports.
Evaluate which posts performed best in terms of engagement and identify commonalities, such as time of day, day of the week, or type of post. You may find that videos had lower engagement than images, while weekday evening posts outperformed weekend morning messages.
Along with looking over your performance, don’t forget about your competitors. Which social platforms did they use? What types of posts did they share, at what times, and how frequently? While you won’t have access to their analytics, you can see engagement (such as retweets, likes, and comments) to identify their most popular posts.
3. Clean up your social media accounts
While each social media platform has its personality, you want to establish your brand and send your followers a consistent message. At least twice a year, audit your social media accounts, checking for outdated information, broken links, and any posts or images that don’t fit your current scheme. If your business recently rebranded, changed its tagline, or updated its logo, make sure your profiles are updated.
Throughout the year, make sure you’re using the same fonts, images, and hashtags across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and any other platform on which you post. You may need to edit all of your captions to include consistent hashtags. The goal is consistency, so even though hashtags are more popular on Instagram and Twitter, use them on all other platforms as well.
John Haydon from Inbound Zombie says, “If you are currently using hashtags in a campaign on Twitter or Instagram, start including those hashtags in your Facebook content. This makes it easier to integrate all your social channels as one.”
4. Create a campaign
Once you’ve established your messages, hashtags, and images, it’s time to create the campaign! Your social campaigns should be consistent. Develop a hashtag to use all season across all platforms. Make sure to use this for every post, as it will help you track the campaign. You’ll also need to choose a logo to use across the campaign so customers and prospects can quickly identify your brand.
Use a master doc, in Excel or a project tracking program, to see what’s planned for each social channel, and link to the message and response copy you’ve already prepared. Plan out your posts, using columns for dates and times, links, and any images.
Investing time upfront to schedule posts and compile resources will save you significant time during the busy holiday rush. It also gives you more time to spend interacting with fans and followers on social media.
5. Execute the campaign
When launch day arrives, start posting! Even if you schedule posts ahead of time, technology isn’t perfect. Regularly check to make sure posts are publishing correctly. This review also allows you to interact with your customers and reply to comments and messages answering their questions. Be as transparent as possible about what deals you have, and link to your website as much as possible—and your customer service team should be aware of all deals and social media posts.
Finally, having a reliable internet connection is the foundation for a successful social media campaign. If your tech is failing your team, it could limit your campaign’s success.
Rebecca Armstrong at SatelliteInternet.com says, “Today’s online customers expect immediate responses and answers to their questions. When you’re bouncing between multiple platforms, you should be able to rely on your internet and connect with users live and in real-time.”
The holidays can be a hectic and overwhelming season, but following these tips will help you streamline and execute a great social media campaign. Best of luck this holiday season!
Victoria Schmid enjoys writing about technology for the “everyday” person. She is a specialist in consumer technology and internet culture. She has a background in broadcast journalism.