Last Updated: Dec 4, 2014
You might not be used to thinking of social media as a way to attract customers during the holidays, but if you use it right, it can be an effective means to keep your business front of mind. Here are seven ways you can put social media to work for you this holiday shopping season.

All of the advertising experts say the same thing: We live in a world where social media has to be part of your advertising campaign in some way. Facebook alone has more than 1.4 billion users worldwide and 72% of Internet users participate in social media.

For the 18-24 crowd, that number jumps to 89% and even 43% of users 65 and older have social media accounts. Maybe you’re not a big social networking fan but if you’re not where your customers are, you’re missing a major opportunity.

The holiday season is approaching fast and what do consumers look to do from October-December? Spend money. Consumers will spend an average of $767.27 during the holiday season with $432, or 56% of the total going towards gifts. Candy and food make up another $104 of that total.

In 2014, the National Retail Federation forecasts a 4.1% increase in spending from last year giving 2014 the potential to be the largest holiday season in recent history. If the holiday season will be that big and most of your customers are spending a lot of time on social media, how can you reach them?

Contests and Promotions

Not all contests work. Some fall flat and show less interest than you had hoped but with a little experimenting you can find one that resonates with your customers. If you have already found one that works, adapt it for the holidays. If it was an in-store contest, adapt it for online and make it holiday-themed.

Before you begin the contest, set your expectations correctly. Don’t make your contest or promotion primarily about making sales. Instead, make it about collecting leads. Building your mailing lists, both e-mail and traditional mail, is just as valuable.

Use Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is expensive, your budget is limited, and you don’t know how to do it. Don’t believe these myths.

First, digital marketing isn’t expensive when compared to print. What if you only paid to place your ad in front of people who lived 10 or less miles from your business? What if you only targeted men ages 18-24 or people who were married and had children? 

Tightly targeting your audience allows you to place your ad in front of the people most likely to buy and that pushes the cost of the campaign lower than print ads. You can spend $5 or less per day and still potentially reach thousands of people.

Most of the platforms are easy to use but if you’re new to social advertising, try Facebook. Its platform walks you through the process. You’ll have an ad set up in no time.

Create Urgency

Take a cue from Amazon. During the holidays, they load their website with messaging like, “Two days left to order and receive your shipment by December 25.” Amazon is creating urgency. You can create it with time, by saying that a certain product is in short supply, or beat the crowds before Black Friday.

Build Community

Few people come to social media for advertisements. They can turn on the TV if that’s what they want. They come to social media for community. Your customers want to interact with others and consume content that resonates with them. Take a lesson from the big brands. Coca-Cola, with its 89 million Facebook followers, fills its page with beautiful images, videos, and other community building posts. For Halloween, it posted a tip on how to make a cooler out of a pumpkin.

Make your page about giving people something that makes them feel good. Solve a problem, say something uplifting, or thank them for being part of your community.

If you want to sell, it has to be soft. Instead of advertising your next sale, offer a coupon or tell your fans about a free gift.

Partner With Another Business

Unless you pay, Facebook is probably going to put your content in front of about 10% of the people who like your page. What if you partnered with other, (probably non-competing) businesses in your area and cross-posted? They post your content and you post theirs. Again, it’s not about posting your latest sale; concentrate on educating people about you.

Use Your Store to Gain Fans

If you have a physical storefront, make business cards that have your social media information. Tell them that you’re offering web-exclusive holiday coupons on your social media pages. They can’t find them in your store—only online.

Don’t Try to Be Everywhere

There are a lot of social media platforms. You don’t have time to have a huge presence on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and others. Pick one or two and concentrate your efforts. If you cater to younger customers, include Instagram. If your customers are little older, use Facebook.

Bottom Line

You can’t ignore social media this season. Your customers are there and if you don’t reach them, your competitors will. Don’t make it about the hard sell; make it about brand education, and gifts. Gifts could include coupons, in-store free gifts, holiday advice, or just a thank you.

Above all, experiment. If something doesn’t work, try something else but don’t give up.

© 2014 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission from Attard Communications, Inc.