Will 2015 Be the Most Social Shopping Season Yet?

Over the past several weeks, the biggest social networks have shared some major announcements that are certainly piquing the interest of retailers ahead of this holiday season. To help brands thrive in the increasingly mobile-dominated media environment, Facebook announced the initial testing of its dedicated Shopping section that is set to become a centralized hub for the discovery and purchase of products. Twitter recently expanded its ecommerce platform in an effort to make advertising more accessible for brands of all sizes. Both Pinterest and Instagram have vastly transformed their environments from image-sharing and creative exploration to places where brands can more intuitively connect their stories and products to consumers.

The world is becoming more and more social and mobile, and marketers will need to grasp opportunities to leverage the most important moments for engaging consumers. With social media platforms continuing to evolve and offer greater enhancements to brands, the overall impact of social may be its most prominent yet during the upcoming 2015 Holiday. Whether consumers can truly evolve their mentality from “social” to “buying” remains to be seen; nonetheless, active engagement on social is no longer optional for brands that want to excel at reaching their customers. Take a look at these strategies for leveraging social media marketing during the holiday shopping season:

Facebook Advertising:

Social advertising capabilities seem to evolve almost daily, but one thing that remains constant is the incredible targeting capabilities available to marketers to fine tune their engagement strategies. Using social data and insights of your ‘best’ customers, leverage Facebook’s custom audiences to target buyers prior to and throughout the holidays. Facebook carousel ads are a great format for holiday shopping guides, and you can specifically target different customer groups through tailored guides like, “gifts for the tech junkie” or “gifts for teens”. These types of personalized ad guides not only communicate your brand in a more creative, visual way, but they also help customers with their most important gift purchasing decisions. Don’t forget about mobile strategy either. With mobile conversions on the rise, we anticipate continued mobile revenue lift throughout the holiday season, and recommend paying close attention to mobile campaign performance. Be prepared to dial-up spend on those devices that are most efficient!

“Pinspiration”:

Pinterest is particularly critical during the holiday season, as it’s the peak time for inspiration and product-seeking by consumers. Promoted pins are still fairly inexpensive and can be very effective if creative is strong and blends well within the platform — images displaying multiple products tend to work best, as well as longer images. Build out a blog post with ‘holiday outfits’ or ‘top 5 holiday gifts for the college student’ and create a collage image optimized for Pinterest. Remember that repins of promoted pins don’t cost anything, so make sure that your creative is shareable!

Influencer Marketing:

Influencers start working on their holiday gifting recommendations and guides as early as September and early October, so it’s important to approach them in a timely fashion. Make sure to get on their radar before they’ve committed to other brands or made their final partnership decisions. In addition to your more high-profile influencers, don’t forget about your own customers’ ability to influence their communities to purchase your products. Ensure that all of your content and campaigns are shareable, so that they can gain visibility from new groups on social. Keep an eye on social media referrals made by your customers – a positive message is key during the holiday season.

Hashtags:

Hashtag strategy is essential during the holidays, specifically one that is timely and relevant. Be sure that you’re leveraging the hashtags that have proven very popular during the holiday season, like #blackfriday, #holidayshopping and #holidayguide. It may also be beneficial to create hashtags unique to your brand that customers will recognize and want to share. This is a technique that can help your most creative and engaging campaigns to become ever more viral in the social media environment. Additionally, you’ll want to target the “bargain hunters” by utilizing hashtags related to last-minute sales and promotions, like #freeshipping, #holidaysale and #lastchancesale. Finally, ensure that you’re targeting specific customer groups through more tailored hashtags, such as #giftsformen, #giftsforteens and wherever else applicable.

Social Video:

Video is booming and it’s paving the way for the next level of customer and brand engagement. With more granular targeting capabilities, video, particularly on social, can help marketers deliver relevant, meaningful and more customized content. Remember to “humanize” your story on social, and connect with customers through shared holiday experiences. It’s also important to make your videos ‘shoppable’ to give customers a clear path to purchasing your products – YouTube’s Shoppable TrueView ads allow you to add clickable shopping links within video content.

Promotions & Contests:

Holidays are always a good time to collect email leads through social promotions that are fun and engaging. Focus the contest on creating engaging experiences, but don’t forget about opportunities for impulse buying, such as limited time offers on a contest thank you page or an emailed special offer to new sign-ups resulting from contest. The holiday season also provides a great opportunity for brands to reward loyal customers through surprise giveaways, sneak peeks of upcoming offers or exclusive early access to holiday sales. But don’t just rely on your organic social strategy to reach your social audiences – leaning on cross channels such as email marketing, print and digital catalogs and paid advertising can help maximize campaign exposure and participation.

Enhance the In Store Experience:

Don’t forget to leverage your in-store shoppers for social WOMM. Find clever ways to bring in-store experience to social such as photo taking opps and hashtag campaigns. For example UGC can be used in exchange for a discount taken at register (social currency) or to create digital store wish lists by snapping photos of store displays that contain item numbers and tagging ‘Mom’ or ‘Dad’ as a gifting hint! Remember to include your brand’s hashtag wherever possible such as store front windows, receipts, shopping bags and packaging! Additionally, social activity can be used to help in-store shoppers make shopping decisions based on the social recommendations of third parties through in-store digital UGC displays or signage featuring ‘top pinned’ items.

Looking for more insight into a successful 2015 holiday strategy? Check out these posts in our Holiday Planning Series: A Look Into Holiday 2015, Tips to Ramp up Your SEO & Content Plans for Holiday 2015, Consumers Ready for Full Inboxes During This Holiday Season, Q4 Holiday Tune Up’s, The Growing Impact of #GivingTuesday: Strategies for Success

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