Grumble all you like about mince pies appearing on supermarket shelves in September, but a look at Google Trends will show you that this is when people start searching for terms like “Christmas present”. The fact is, consumers gear up early for Christmas…and you’d be crackers not to follow suit.

This is great news for businesses, and the opportunities for growth provided during the festive period can put a smile on the face of even the grumpiest Grinch. In the digital age, social media has a big role to play in this, with shoppers looking to it for inspiration on purchasing decisions, as well as shareable content, from friends, and from trusted brands.

The Pitfalls of festive social media…and how to avoid them

Social media might seem easy, but getting the balance between engaging and annoying can be easier said than done. Here are some of the social media pitfalls some brands make during the Christmas period:

  1. They cram the festive season down their community’s throat. Much like that third slice of Christmas pudding, it’s important not to overdo it as you might regret it later. Some people love Christmas, others not so much and it’s important to strike an even balance. Posting too frequently about Christmas, or simply using the occasion to repeatedly promote your brand is a turn off.
  2. They bite off more than they can chew. Christmas promotions are a great way to give back your community, but if all your messaging is focussed on this, it may become boring. Also, make sure you don’t set the closing date and winner announcements of competitions too close to the big day…wait until things have calmed down.
  3. They deviate from their usual tone of voice. Consider very carefully how your brand would discuss Christmas if it were a person. Would it, for example, spend the whole of December telling everyone in sight about how great it is and how everyone should try it? No, and if it did, it wouldn’t be invited to many Christmas parties…The key is to blend in with and compliment the chatter coming from friends and family.
  4. They don’t do anything for Christmas.Understandable as it is at a busy time, many brands seem to ignore Christmas, or at least do the bare minimum. The fact is that even a small degree of effort can reap big rewards, not just through in December, but carrying through the rest of the year.

Top tips for a happy social media Christmas

As well as avoiding the pitfalls, it is crucial to make the most of the opportunity to engage and grow your community, and ultimately increase sales. Try the following

  1. Planning is key. Some businesses spend the whole year building up to December, but this isn’t always possible. You should, however, plan as far ahead as possible to make use of the opportunities presented. Christmas is invariably the busiest time of the year, so the sooner you have a content plan in place, the sooner you can focus on other aspects of the business.
  2. Learn from last year’s successes. What worked in 2013? Which posts and ideas received the most audience engagement? Can you build on it this year? Can you avoid making the same mistakes?
  3. Set your objectives. It is vital to set measurable objectives and goals so you can look back later to see what worked, and what didn’t. This will enable you to learn about what your community wants. It’s also important that social media objectives are aligned to wider marketing objectives.
  4. Update designs on social media channels. Cover images and headers are great Christmas billboards – use them to promote your best sellers and services for Christmas
  5. Use social media to drive people towards your website. Engaging people on social channels is valuable from a brand awareness perspective, but they should also feed in to a point of sale, such as a website. Likewise, websites should feed into social media channels, creating a “closed loop”.

Get the content mix right. This is one of the golden rules and you should aim for a split where just 20% of what you post is sales oriented.

Consider enlisting help. With everything else going on, it may be worthwhile hiring an external social media consultant or agency to make the most of the opportunities available.

Make use of festive offers. Make purchasing decisions easier by rewarding loyal community members with exclusive offers.

Embrace the Christmas competition. Reward your community by offering prizes. This could be one grand prize, or a higher volume of “stocking fillers”. Either way, people love freebies – especially at Christmas – and this is a great way to give back, whilst swelling Likes and Shares.

Continue to keep your community engaged.
Once you’ve done all the hard work, remember to keep your audience engaged into the New Year. Growing a community is an ongoing process.

By Jasper Rosenau, Director, Spider PR (Digital Communications)

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