Holiday 2016: Give Your Customers an Unforgettable Social Media Experience
With the presidential election finally at a close, retailers hope the American consumer will soon shift attention back to other important aspects of life – and now that we’re just mere weeks away from Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, many are gearing up for the annual holiday shopping bash. As we recently mentioned, reconnecting with customers after a particularly grueling and distracting election season may prove slightly more challenging than the norm; but let this serve as an extra boost of inspiration to surpass your customers’ expectations of the upcoming holiday shopping experience!
Like all other parts of the year, social media is a key ingredient to marketing strategy during the holidays. Customers not only want to interact amongst each other and with influencers about the season’s hottest products, but they also crave interactive content and great entertainment experiences from brands. With the sheer variety of ad capabilities, audience targeting and general reach of the big social media platforms, it’s no surprise that 87% of CMOs at the largest US retailers say that social is a crucial part of their holiday marketing mix. But with the social sphere more crowded than ever, this is the year to take risks, be creative and wow your customers with incredible social content.
Brand & Product Storytelling
While many shoppers are still dedicated scrollers and browsers on ecommerce sites, many are also looking for a more engaging product exploration experience. Mainly, they’re not just interested in checking out a product, basic information and reviews; rather, they want to see real storytelling on the brand’s end. With endless choice during the holidays, there’s more at stake for companies that want to make a splash on their customers’ shopping lists, which means presenting product in unique and creative ways.
We continue to love the Miss Adventure series by Kate Spade, and have come back to it many times as a great example for brand and product storytelling inspiration. Kate Spade’s success with the video series comes in part from its endearing characters, but also in the way it connects customers with product in a completely non-salesy way. The clothing, jewelry and accessories come to life in each of the episodes, which makes the content a form of entertainment and subtle product marketing – a double win for the brand. Historically, the series has seen major social media engagement, particularly on Facebook. We hope to see Kate Spade spinoff a special holiday edition of Miss Adventures!
In addition to online, offline experiences can also be a great way to trigger social storytelling around a brand, product or in-store experience. From brick-and-mortar stores, holiday pop-up shops, and interactive offline advertising opportunities, brands have an opportunity to create emotional connections and imaginative engagement opportunities with consumers who will in turn likely share these experiences across the social sphere, and pique the interest of their peers. Finding the perfect blend of transactional and experiential marketing can help brands better connect physical and digital.
There may still be a few kinks to iron out when it comes to bridging the ecommerce and social media experience, but we’re getting a heck of a lot closer! In fact, many brands have found ways to elevate their traditional ecommerce experience by adding a social element –whether that be through shoppable ads, Buy-Now buttons, or immersive video content. Particularly now that consumers access social predominantly through mobile apps, an easy social-to-shopping pathway is something Facebook and others continue to work on. Released during the fall of last year, Facebook’s Canvas ads can provide a unique opportunity this holiday season. With their interactive format, endless creative opportunities, plus the ability to use either video or static imagery, brands may find Canvas ads to be just what their customers are looking for when browsing for gifts on social.
Instagram recently gave us a glimpse into its latest shoppable content feature, currently in a staggered rollout to select brands and social influencers. The move shows Instagram’s desire to monetize, but it’s also reflective of the platform’s dedication to creating a more seamless one-stop environment for discovery, content sharing, interacting and shopping. Our guess is this feature will become particularly crucial to the influencer scene, because it eliminates the traditional “tap link in bio” method used by ‘grammers to connect their followers with product. Keeping it within the Instagram interface also, “brings important product information to the consumer earlier in the journey,” according to the platform. How important will this new feature be during Holiday 2016? More than likely, it won’t have tremendous impact yet, simply because of how new the feature is and its limited rollout. However, we think Instagram is heading in a very intriguing direction, and brands should take note.
While it might seem easier to rely on the usual “Top 10 Gifts for XYZ Person in Your Life” approach, there is a world of opportunities when it comes to giving your customers fun and engaging holiday guides. For one, we’d recommend leveraging user generated content as much as possible. More often than not, shoppers love to share experiences within their own communities, where content can sometimes take on a more genuine feel. If an influencer strategy is part of your holiday social marketing mix, consider working with them on a UGC approach. For instance, develop a special hashtag that encourages your influencers’ followers to share their own content, and you can take it a step further by personalizing the hashtag for communities with different product affinities or lifestyles. The last thing you want is for your bloggers or social influencers to be stuck with a dull, unengaging strategy – take this time to arm them with something fun and creative!
A brand that’s definitely taken their holiday guide strategy seriously is Rebecca Minkoff. The company recently launched its #HolidayMyWay campaign with social media personality, Arielle Vandenberg. Geared towards millennials who are braving the holidays on their own for the first time, the YouTube and social campaign takes an inspired approach to holiday “survival guides”, sharing essential steps for decorating, gift wrapping and party hosting. Vandenberg is funny, engaging and extremely relatable to the audience Rebecca Minkoff is trying to reach, which makes the campaign a likely winner this holiday season.
While the clock is ticking closer to Holiday, don’t let this season pass you by without trying something a little different! Even if you don’t have the production chops or the time to scale a major video campaign, consider small, creative wins to hook your customer, and keep them coming back for more post-holiday!