Embrace the festive season via social media

SLStevo Social Guide

As the festivities draw closer and the client base grows larger here at Shackleton PR, I would like to share with you the key elements required to achieve your social media objectives.

Whilst your overall social media objective should still the main focus, I recommend tweaking your content strategy slightly to increase engagement, ROI and loyalty.

Christmas is a key trading period for many brands, as well as being notorious for the busiest time of the year; both in terms of planning and executing campaigns at work and frantically rushing around to organise your own Christmas. However, this isn’t a time to feel daunted.

It’s important to recognise your target audience will be active on an array of social media channels throughout the Christmas period.

Therefore, ensure your content and campaigns are tailored to suit both the channel being utilised and the audience you wish to engage with. I believe it’s important to have presence and consistency across a variety of social media channels, although it is anticipated that 92% of businesses will spend their social media marketing budgets on Facebook. The most common use of Facebook for business is to provide fans with discounts and competitions. But with the majority of brands taking this approach, there’s much more to offer.

Here, I have created the ultimate guide to help your business drive engagement and sales using social media over the festivities, with a steer towards Facebook and a focus on maintaining your brand values.

Content 

Content, they say, is king. This is especially true for a brands Facebook business page. With the regular Facebook algorithm changes, engagement rates are getting hit as the months go on, making it more important to serve your audience with what they want to see. Social media users are online more frequently throughout the Christmas holidays, so it is vital that brands leverage this by providing them with the content they desire.

Planning plays a vital role in social content marketing.

With many brands choosing what to post only a few days before, creating a monthly content calendar which ties in with the overall marketing plan will provide the audience with increased exposure of consistent messages, and allow your team more time to interact and engage. I always use an excel format calendar, hosted in Google docs for all to share. To build your calendar, start by overlaying your monthly marketing and PR plans, then apply themes to each day (i.e. Monday – offer an exclusive discount, Friday and the weekend – Competitions, news and relevance). Content calendars are an extremely useful way of planning your social content. Planning for your social media platforms in advance will ensure you always have something to post and allows you to schedule to launch the content when your audience are most active, not when you are in the office. This will be particularly important over the Christmas holidays and will free up your time.

Once the template is in place, start to test different types of posts to understand the style and post type your audience respond best to. Craft posts with relevant seasonal hashtags to increase the reach of your messages. Posting questions and eye-catching imagery will drive the most engagement from fans as they evoke emotion. Audiences also respond well to behind the scenes footage and enjoy seeing the real people behind a brand, reinforcing their ‘like’ for your brand.

Remember to connect with mums when they’re out shopping this Christmas. Facebook states Mums spend 3x more time on mobiles during Christmas vs the average Facebook user so keep content short, relevant and embrace Facebook Mobile Ads.

Review your content performance from the last 10 months, choose the top performers and simply take a festive angle to the fresh content you are planning.

Audience 

One of the main attractions of social media, from my point of view, is the amount of data and insights a brand can gain, often in real-time.  Whilst there are a vast number of social monitoring and reporting tools available, Facebook Insights still offers the most advanced.

Gaining a clear understanding of your target audience and behaviour, both on Facebook and across the internet, increases the ability to maximise content and campaigns.

Facebook allows brands to import their existing customer database and serve ads to them or invite them to like the brand page; targeting at its best. And whilst customers can be integrated into social channels, they can also be targeted with social content via existing email campaigns through social share buttons, exclusivities and live feeds. Ensure your brand is taking full advantage of these elements for added effect this festive season.

Facebook Advertising 

Once you have identified the profile of your target audience, as well as having a clear understanding of the best performing content, look to Facebook advertising to extend your reach even further. Paid media on Facebook has grown dramatically over the last 12 months, seeing increased targeting methods, helping brands achieve a strong and relevant voice to those most likely to purchase. Facebook studies from December 2013, found Link Page Post Ads (which appear on both desktop and mobile) deliver 8 times the engagement compared to other Facebook Ad formats. Before you commence with paid media, be clear on what you want your ads to achieve and tailor the content to your audience.

Offers

Offers are becoming more and more popular across social media; both with brands promoting them and consumers searching for them. A large percentage of consumers head straight to social media channels belonging to the brand they wish to purchase from to find a discount code or offer available for immediate use. Whilst offers and discounts are an excellent way to boost engagement, they are best planned sporadically so not to attract disloyal customers and ensure the customers with strong LTV engage and redeem the offers time and time again. If your marketing calendar does have promotional offers during this season, ensure they are time bound and announced exclusively on social media channels. Setting up a Facebook Offer is a strong way to drive footfall to your store and increases reach and awareness to your Facebook page.

Contests

Not to be overused or to become the key focus for seasonal campaigns, contests are the one area known to cheapen a brand. For brands, contests and giveaways are an easy win to create buzz around a product and the brand. Be mindful though, that the wrong kind of entrants may be attracted therefore not creating the loyalty or ROI you desire.

These types of campaigns can cheapen a brand, so careful thinking is required.

Limit the amount of contests you run and focus on gaining data from them to further develop your social strategy and increase your database. I suggest creating a Facebook or website contest hosted by a platform such as Wishpond or Offerpop. This way you can force users to enter via email to help build up your email list, leaving you to update subscribers on future products, promotions and exclusive announcements.

Events

Many retail brands, especially within the fashion and beauty industry, look toward creating events to engage their audience. Inviting attendees such as bloggers and VIP customers will provide an effective way of interacting with these key influencers who in turn increase your exposure through providing their own content relating to your brand and products.

Social media can support such events through creating conversations around the event and products of focus. Content posted pre, during and post event will provide your audience with behind the scenes footage and insider knowledge that they otherwise would not have exposure to. Having a Christmas themed product event will display to your customers your creative and social side, as well as revealing new and upcoming products.

Whilst the above guidelines do concentrate on Facebook due to the bulk of social media spend anticipated on Facebook this year, it shouldn’t mean the other channels are to be neglected. M&S are embracing Twitter this season, with a unique account @TheTwoFairies who are granting wishes in their UK act of kindness campaign. Steering away from the norm of providing offers, giveaways and discounts, this new campaign angle will be sure to drive indirect sales and increase their brand awareness for all the right reasons.

Many US brands are choosing Instagram as their channel of choice this year, including Benefit Cosmetics who recently launched a ‘festive village’.  Inspired by their Christmas 2014 gift sets, an image of each gift set is uploaded to Instagram, which tags the individual products. All of which have their very own profile pages on Instagram which users are invited to upload their purchases to. Instagram has grown considerably throughout 2014, and we predict this will take the lead in campaigns for Christmas 2015. It’s a good idea to start monitoring competitors on Instagram this season and start planning in Q2 to ensure you’re one of the leaders in your industry next year.

Within the Social Media team here at Shackleton PR, I continue to urge the focus and energies be placed on social media content.

Summary

It is important to keep contributing to your social media channels and testing out new content prior, during and beyond the festivities. Test, learn and refine in order to continue engaging with the right audience and ensuring you attract new followers that fit your target demographic on the relevant channels.

For a truly successful social strategy, businesses should continually review and analyse the performance of each social media channel. Look at what content is working and what isn’t, understand when engagement is taking place and what other interests your audience have. There are a wide range of social media monitoring and reporting tools available for your teams to utilise. Review performance on a weekly basis and allow the findings to shape your content and campaigns for the month ahead.

Remember that your website and social media presence is available 24/7, even if you are not.

Ahead of this busy season, schedule all content via tools such as Hootsuite and Locowise for key periods of engagement. If customer service is due to be limited, ensure this is made clear to the audience via an easy to reference graphic complete with all contact information and hours of availability.

Most of all, enjoy the festive season and what learnings it will bring to you and your brand.

I hope you found this overview useful and would love to hear about your campaigns for Christmas 2014 and beyond.

Sources: Google, Our Mobile Planet, May 2013 | Deloitte & Touche Christmas Spending Survey, November 2012 | Facebook Internal Data, based on reported and inferred user data for December 2013

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