It’s once again that time of year to deck your social profiles for this holiday season. I know it’s early October and the holidays may still seem further away than the north pole, but if you haven’t yet started planning your ecommerce social campaigns for this holiday season, now is the time!
In fact, 40% of consumers have started shopping for holiday gifts earlier than they normally would. So, what are you waiting for?
In this article, we will cover how to plan and create a step-by-step social media strategy for your ecommerce store that converts your readers now and beyond the holiday season.
Why Social Media?
People are looking for the best gift ideas and deals on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. Your social presence is the perfect way to reach your readers and customers this year.
I may be biased when I say this (working in social media) but, what isn’t social media good at?
In fact, according to Shopify,
Social media marketing can help you build engaged audiences where they already spend their time. It can also create multiple sources of traffic that continually bring in customers, and get your business in front of 3.78 billion people online—nearly 48% of the world’s population.https://www.shopify.com/blog/social-media-marketing-strategy
More and more people are making purchases on social apps. According to Salesforce, social referrals will generate an additional 30% of traffic to ecommerce sites this holiday season. Grand View Research estimated that social commerce represented 11% of global retail ecommerce revenue in 2020, generating $474 billion.
I know I just threw a bunch of numbers at you, but the point is, social media is a gold mine. Its presence can help drive traffic to your website and build brand recognition, community, and loyalty.
But it takes more than simply having a social media presence. I have a small ecommerce business myself, and I made the initial mistake of creating a social presence for my brand and crossing my fingers as a strategy. Can you guess what happened?
Let’s just say I didn’t get many sales. Here’s the lesson: don’t do that.
So…what does it take to win on Social Media?
Encourage your customers to interact with your brand by conducting polls, running contests, and encouraging them to share their experiences with your products. Not only will this help you create meaningful connections with your followers and generate social proof for potential buyers, but it will also give you the data you need to plan your strategy. Using data to understand the types of content that resonate with your audience (and what doesn’t), not making assumptions, and asking your readers questions are key to success.
To translate, it requires strategy.
The good news is, there’s so much opportunity for your ecommerce business to capitalize on social media, and the holidays are a perfect time to start if you haven’t already. With the right social media marketing strategy, you can boost holiday sales, engage with potential customers, and spread holiday cheer!
Social media is competitive, however. And with the holidays, it’s noisier than ever. You need to create content that stops a thumb from scrolling in its tracks.
Curious to learn how? Ready to “sleigh” this holiday season with a winning social strategy? Read on!
Let Customers Shop On Your Social Media Profile
Before thinking about your social media holiday strategy, you need to ensure you’re offering the most convenient shopping experience for your customers. People shopping for the holidays go on social media to get ideas. Why not make the buyer’s journey easier for them? Ease of purchase can serve as a huge motivator for conversion. Based on a recent survey, 48% of respondents have made at least one purchase on social media.
You can easily connect your Shopify store to your social media platforms. Creating an Instagram or Facebook shop is a simple task but often needs to be reviewed and approved by the social platform so make sure to get this done as soon as possible.
Formulating A Social Media Holiday Strategy (Step-by-Step)
1. Turn Around And Analyze Your Data
It all starts here! Check out last year’s holiday social media posts, do an audit of your past campaigns, and really dig into the data. How did you do? Remember, marketing isn’t something you check off a list and never revisit. Looking back and analyzing your data should be an ongoing task throughout the year in order to grow.
Pro Tip: Gather your best-performing captions and visuals of your social media posts from previous years and recycle them! You’ll save time and like my boss usually says “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
So, you’re looking at data from last year. You’re looking at old posts and a bunch of numbers.
You’re probably asking:
How you use your data matters in order to optimize your efforts. Ask yourself these questions based on what you found:
- Do you need to make adjustments to the visuals and tweak the copy? Did it speak to your audience?
- Which social platforms performed best? Where exactly did you get the most engagements and sales?
- Are the sales, traffic, and engagement you’re getting from each platform exceeding the cost you’re putting into it? Which platforms had the best return on investment?
- What content got the most clicks, sales, and follows?
We started with data, we’re going to end with data. It’s the circle of (social media marketing) life. You want to be able to see how your social media holiday strategy is working, don’t you?
Pro tip: You don’t need to be present on every social media platform or need to put 110% effort into each and every platform. Be where your buyers are. Focus on the places your audience engaged with you the most. If a platform isn’t working for you, it has no business being in your social media holiday strategy. Saves time, stress, and most importantly, money.
No Data? No Problem
Don’t get me wrong, you need data. But if this is your first year with a new product or brand, you may not have any data from last year’s holiday season to look back on. Instead, you can gather unique insights by asking your customers questions with polls on Instagram stories and Twitter posts. Polls are great for engagement and interacting with your audience.
Never make assumptions about the kinds of content you think will resonate with your audience. It won’t get you very far. To find out what they want to see, learn, do, and buy this holiday season, just ask! Then, infuse what you’ve learned into your holiday social media content.
2. It’s Time To Set Some Goals
Important note – do not skip this step! Goals are incredibly important and helpful to pave the way for a successful social strategy for the holidays.
I like to use SMART planning to create goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. You can even take it a step further to create goals that are SMARTER with the addition of evaluation and readjust. SMARTER goals work great for social media strategy around the holidays and all year long.
Create a goal that’s specific by answering the what, who, when, and why.
What are you trying to accomplish?
- Increase brand awareness?
- Launch a new product?
- Build your community and increase followers?
- Promote a special holiday offer?
Who will be involved?
- Your customers?
When is the deadline?
Why is what you’re trying to accomplish this holiday season important?
You know what you want to accomplish; how will you measure its success? What does success look like?
What do you need to accomplish your goal this holiday season? Do you need to invest in new tools? Do you need to set aside a budget to get some freelancer graphic designers involved in creating campaign graphics that really pop?
How do your holiday social media goals align with your overall business goals?
What is the time frame of your holiday social media goal(s)? How long will you need on a daily and weekly basis to accomplish your goal? What can you expect to have achieved a quarter, midway, and/or by the end of the holiday season?
While your social media campaigns are active, you should evaluate your progress toward your goal(s). Set milestones and as you reach each milestone, evaluate yourself. Are you on track to accomplishing your goal? What adjustments do you need to make? Do you need to change up your images? Shorten captions? Increase your ad spend?
You’ve done it all and you’ve evaluated your goals along the way as you hit milestones. Do you need to make any changes to the goal itself? Do you need to add any more milestones or take away some milestones as you move forward with this goal(s) this holiday season?
Let’s build a SMARTER goal together!
Let’s say you have a new calendar ecommerce business this holiday season. You’ve set yourself a goal to increase your reach on Instagram by 9% over an eight-week period. You plan to grow your reach by conducting polls in Instagram stories, putting money behind some of your posts, and partnering up with an influencer. You’re going to measure this using Instagram’s built-in insights and you’ll be keeping track of the numbers twice weekly to evaluate and observe if any adjustments need to be made to the goal.
Setting attainable and well-thought-out goals is extremely important to keep your strategy in focus and in tracking your success. Without goals to aim for, your ecommerce business’s holiday social media marketing may be just as effective as a lump of coal.
3. Go Plan Your Social Media Holiday Content
You know what worked and what didn’t last year. You have a SMARTER goal to accomplish this year. You’ve made your customer’s job so much easier by enabling shopping features. Now, you have to plan your holiday social media content!
Plan Your Content Calendar With Important Holidays
Jot down these dates in your calendar. This will help keep your mind focused if you want to include special deals, giveaways, or specific campaigns around these holidays:
- Thanksgiving — November 25
- Black Friday — November 26
- Small Business Saturday — November 27
- Cyber Monday — November 29
- #GivingTuesday — November 30
- Hanukkah — November 28 – December 6
- Christmas Eve — December 24
- Christmas — December 25
- Kwanzaa — December 26 – January 1
- Boxing Day — December 26
These are also some fun ones to include if it fits your brand’s personality:
- Book Lovers Day — November 6
- Cook Something Bold Day — November 8 (everyone’s looking for some unique holiday recipes and if you’re selling a cookbook through your ecommerce store, well, this one’s for you!)
- Ugly Christmas Sweater Day — December 21
- Festivus — December 23
- National Fruitcake Day — December 27
Side Note: Make sure to jot some dates down in your calendar to communicate with your customers on social media about possible holiday shipping delays. We expect our printers to need a couple of extra days for some orders and we anticipate unpredictable shipping delays. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a successful holiday season though! You just need to plan ahead and actively share information with your readers from now and throughout the holiday season.
Decide On A Theme
What’s your social media holiday campaign about? Spoiler alert: it’s more than just selling your books!
What’s the story? Tapping into your customer’s emotions is especially important during the holidays, and storytelling can be the key to tug at their heartstrings.
So, it really helps to have a single idea or theme for your social holiday campaign. Based on that theme, you can create visuals and write content that is cohesive and consistent.
Under the umbrella of your theme, decide on the types of content you’ll post, whether it’s a specific giveaway, contest, promos, visuals, etc.
Need inspiration? These are 19 brilliant examples of holiday marketing campaigns that have creative themes to get you started thinking.
Themes serve as the heart of your holiday social media strategy.
4. Create Holiday-Themed Content For Social Media
Introducing the most fun part of creating your social media holiday strategy….decorating your social media profile by bringing on some festivity!
Change up your usual visuals, profile photos, post graphics, and cover photos to be holiday-centric. You should always keep your presence current. People love the holidays, so when it comes to your holiday social media strategy, why not go all out?
And it doesn’t have to be complicated either! Visual changes to your presence can be as simple as adding in snowflakes, candy canes, snowmen, stars – you get the idea. Mix it up with different colors such as red, green, white, silver, gold, etc. Add more festive touches to your social media accounts by editing your bio, including holiday in your copy, or adding a unique holiday-centric hashtag.
Just make sure to find a visual look that complements your brand identity.
Pro tip: Platforms such as Instagram have algorithms that favor video content over static images. You can animate your holiday posts into GIFS or include video backgrounds using free design software such as Canva.
You also don’t need to reinvent the wheel. If you can’t create your own visuals you can always find high-quality images from stock photo sites such as Shutterstock or Pixabay and edit these pictures to reflect your theme.
What’s important is making sure your presence comes across as relevant and thoughtful this holiday season and evokes feelings of festivity, joy, and excitement.
Don’t Sleep On Unique Social Media Platform Features
There are so many unique features built into each social media platform that can complement and enhance your social media holiday strategy. Instagram Stories, Twitter Polls, Pinterest Boards, Reels, the list goes on. Did you know that the more features you use on these platforms, the more likely your content will be pushed out to new audiences? If used in a strategic and creative way, they can build up excitement and anticipation—which is perfect for this time of year.
Here are some ideas on how you can use some of these unique features for your holiday content:
- Go live on Instagram or Facebook to share a teaser for your upcoming book/calendar/journal etc. or remind your followers about holiday deals
- Remind your followers about holiday deals by using Instagram Stories’s countdown features
- Create a poll on Twitter to get feedback and crowdsource holiday content ideas
- Use Instagram or Facebook reels to share the behind-the-scenes of what it’s like to run your ecommerce business. Maybe do a day-in-the-life.
Tap into some unique features and get noticed by your audience. The holiday season is a perfect time to engage with your audience with fun and interactive content.
Use The Power Of Influencer Marketing
Influencers can help to increase brand awareness, drive traffic to your ecommerce site, and boost sales. Influencers ‘work’ because they bring the human element to brands. They take on a role as a relatable figure that one looks to for advice. According to the Fohr Survey, 82% of consumers stated that they trust influencers. They are personal, relatable, and approachable. There are plenty more resources that go into influencer marketing in great detail, but I’m just going to lay out the basics you’ll need for this specific holiday social strategy.
Here are some basic best practices to keep in mind:
- Make sure to choose influencers that embody your brand (don’t just pick the first person with a big following you see)!
- Think small – the best influencers for your brand don’t have to have a huge following. You can work with micro-influencers (somewhere between 1,000-50,000 followers). They are perfect if you have a smaller budget; plus, they typically have higher engagement and more niche followers
- Make sure to track all links to measure the effectiveness of your campaign
If you are planning to work with an influencer this holiday season, you need to plan early. And when I mean early, I mean right after you finish reading this blog post. As holidays approach, the demand for working with influencers will increase, but the opportunities will decrease, so don’t miss out! If you need a deadline, aim to pitch to influencers in early November at the latest so that there is plenty of time to run a successful influencer holiday campaign!
Make Use Of UGC (User-Generated Content)
Speaking of influencers, the best ones are your followers. They’re the ones sharing their positive experiences with family and friends without incentives. This is called UGC (User-Generated Content). UGC can be anything your audience posts about your brand or products such as unboxing/unwrapping videos, reviews, book selfies, etc.
There could not be a more perfect time than the holidays to embrace UGC because people are doing special things that they want to share. These types of posts are relatable and can help to build engagement in your community. Show customer appreciation by amplifying their voices and sharing their unique interpretations of your brand, that’ll always be a hit—holiday time or not.
Pro Tip: Utilize UGC to add social proof to your social ads by combining photos from your customers and reviews to enhance their clickability and stand out among a sea of other ecommerce businesses. Also—always make sure to ask permission before you use a photo by a customer in your social content!
For example, Starbucks created a #RedCup contest campaign to give people the chance to design a Starbucks holiday cup, and share a photo of it on social media using that hashtag. A #RedCup contest photo was shared every 14 seconds and the contest received over 4,000 entries.
Does this give you any ideas?
- Create a seasonal hashtag relevant to your brand that people can use to share their photos, videos, and stories of your products.
- Have a user-generated content contest to incentivize people to create content related to your brand! Do you have a coloring book business? Have a drawing contest! Do you have a cookbook business? Have a virtual bake-off contest based on one of your recipes!
Continue to reshare content created by your customers related to your product and brand throughout the year. Authentic UGC makes your customers feel like they are a part of a community. When your community knows you appreciate them and are engaging with them by resharing their posts and commenting, their support for you grows and chances are they’ll spread the word by telling their family and friends.
Run A Giveaway
The holidays are all about giving—so give your audience something to get hyped about by creating a fun, holiday-themed giveaway or contest!
Giveaways can be great when done right and running one can be fairly easy when using software like RafflePress. Giveaways can turn the casual browser into a customer. It can help to improve brand awareness, customer engagement, and enhance holiday sales.
If you don’t do giveaways often, it may be worth investing in a partnership with an influencer who has an audience so you can make sure you get results. This is perfect especially if you’re new to the ecommerce space and this is your first holiday social campaign.
Help increase your reach by encouraging your followers to repost initial giveaway photos to their own social channels, get as many eyes on your social presence as possible!
Here are some example rules you can include in your holiday giveaway:
- “Tag a friend in the comments”
- “Share this post to your story and tag us”
- “Like this post”
Pro Tip: Whether it’s a giveaway or contest, use simple and clear instructions on how to enter. People are busy this time of year, so draft up a giveaway or contest that doesn’t have a long list of requirements.
Hype Up Your Special Holiday Offers On Social Media
We’ve talked a lot about different creative ways to get your out there on social media. But this post wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t talk about the special holiday deals!
The holiday time is extra competitive for ecommerce business owners. One way to cut through the noise and win customers over is by offering them discounts. But make sure you’re strategic when you create discounts.
Use your social media presence to announce and hype up your deals! Make sure your promotions look clear on your visuals and change up your regular copy for posts to be promotional. Make use of features such as the countdown tool on Instagram stories to build anticipation. Also, consider investing in ads to expand your reach and boost sales throughout the holidays.
Raise The Holiday Spirit By Giving Some More
Speaking of giving, you can make a difference this holiday season by incorporating charity and supporting good causes into your strategy. Your customers are busy shopping for their loved ones, why not give them the opportunity to feel good while they’re at it? And giving back and supporting different causes are important now more than ever.
In fact, according to recent data, 73% of millennials and 72% of Gen Zers are more likely to buy products from companies that give back to environmental and social causes. More and more people are looking for businesses that are authentic and unafraid to speak out on issues that truly matter.
There are many ways you can include a charity in your holiday social strategy. One awesome way to give back is to collaborate with local charities or non-profit organizations. Let’s say you sell pet calendars: you can give a percentage of your profits to an animal rescue or charity supporting animal causes.
When you support important causes and give back, what it shows is that you’re in it for more than just profits. You’re spreading generosity, compassion, and social awareness, and you’re encouraging your audience to join in on the efforts.
5. Track Your Social Media Holiday Campaign Success
You set amazing goals, your social media holiday strategy is planned out, you created some snazzy content. Now what? We started with data, we’re going to end with data. It’s the circle of (social media marketing) life. You want to be able to see how your social media holiday strategy is working, don’t you?
Luckily, there’s a very easy way to track your performance: setting up UTM tagging for your social posts. A UTM (short for “urchin tracking module”) is a small snippet of unique code added to the end of a website link that lets you track traffic to your ecommerce website brought by social media.
You can create UTM tags in seconds using Google’s Campaign URL Builder.
In addition to UTM tagging, make sure you’re reviewing social media analytics based on each platform. One way to check each social platform’s analytics is to look at each one individually: Instagram Insights, Pinterest Analytics, etc. If you’re on multiple platforms running campaigns this holiday season, there are plenty of excellent third-party social media reporting tools to look into.
Not sure what to track? Impressions, reach, shares, and mentions, click-through rates, are some valuable metrics. It all depends on what your goals are this holiday season.
With Google Analytics and social media analytics, you can consistently understand how your audience responds to your content; this enables your strategy to be agile. Remember you’re SMARTER goals—you should be measuring and tracking your campaigns throughout the holiday season and if something isn’t working—evaluate and readjust, switch directions if you need to. Analytics is also important for future holiday strategies as well.
A note on keeping your holiday social strategy inclusive before we wrap things up here: Make sure you see beyond the sea of Christmas trees this year and every year. “The holiday season” represents multiple different celebrations of significance, so make sure to create content that is reflective of the world we live in.
Wrapping It All Up
You made it! I know I just threw a ton of information at you, but let’s recap:
To create a holiday social media strategy…
- Look at data from last year
- Set SMARTER goals
- Enable social media shopping features
- Develop a central idea/theme
- Plan your holiday social media content calendar
- Create holiday-themed social content by decorating your account
- Use unique features per platform
- Involve influencers
- Utilize UGC
- Run a giveaway
- Give back to charity and support important causes
- Hype up special holiday deals
- Most importantly, to wrap it all up in a bow—track your progress
It might be a lot of information especially if it’s your first time creating a holiday social media strategy. However you decide to go about what you’ve learned, remember to take advantage of holiday marketing—it presents an opportunity for increased customer following, engagement, boosted sales, and overall brand awareness during and well beyond the holiday season.
Social media strategy does not necessarily start or stop with the holiday season, you have to be in it for the long game. Create a well-planned holiday social media marketing strategy that aligns with your business goals, contains content your audience is interested in, and make sure to have fun with it! Add special and festive touches to create a warm holiday atmosphere. With all that in mind, your social media holiday strategy will surely snowball into success in the long run.
Before you go, don’t forget to tag @luludotcom in your social posts. We would love to see what you and your ecommerce business are up to this holiday season!
Naveen is a Social Media Specialist at Lulu which basically translates to being paid to spend time on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tik Tok, and Twitter. When she’s not focused on brainstorming content ideas for Lulu, you’ll find her cooking up a snazzy skincare recipe in her room.