Do you really know who visits your website? Do you even know how many people visit? These are two questions to which you'd hope the answer would be a confident: “yes” instead of a sheepish: “no”. Yet many online retailers remain sluggish in moving beyond the cookie in order to better understand their consumers. Gracia Amico from BounceX argues that it’s time to re-think digital marketing and provides 5 key reasons why behavioural marketing is an essential upgrade.
On the first day of Christmas . . . no, this won’t be a song about social media marketing, or Christmas, but will instead give businesses looking to up their social game over the festive period a few handy tips on how to do just that.
Christmas is a busy time of the year for many businesses, particularly those in the retail and hospitality industries. Social media provides businesses with the means of reaching a more targeted audience that perhaps offline marketing allows. However, it can be difficult to stand out from competitors.
Here are 12 tips to turn the social media novice into the savvy social marketer over the Christmas period.
1. Update your information
Social media has become the first point of call for people to find out information about businesses, such as current offers, developments and, most importantly, opening times. The Christmas period brings a change from the norm, with many businesses having different opening and closing times during the holiday season.
Make sure that you not only display your Christmas opening times clearly on your profile’s ‘About’ pages, but due to limited space in the Twitter and Instagram bios, it may be worth changing the links to lead to a specific blog post showing the change of hours. Use a clear URL to make it obvious for your audience, for example: ‘www.yourcompany.com/christmas-opening-times’.
To make sure this information isn’t missed, you could go as far as sharing posts across all platforms with the hours on as well.
2. Schedule content
Everyone wants a little time off over Christmas, even if it is just for the day: this includes those who run social media accounts. But nobody wants ‘dead air’ on their feeds, either. This is where scheduling content comes in handy. There are apps such as Hootsuite and Buffer that allow users to schedule posts in advance, for free! The free versions do have a limit on the number of social accounts you can add, and some limit the number of posts you can schedule, but there should be enough to get you through Christmas and New Year.
It is also a fact that many businesses are busier than usual in the run-up to Christmas which can leave feeds neglected and risk followers becoming disinterested. Scheduling a few posts a week will keep the accounts active and give customers the content they crave.
3. Embrace real time
Social networks such as Facebook and Instagram have recently introduced stories features, similar to Snapchat, which allow users to upload images and short videos that disappear after 24 hours. This limited view makes the content appear very current and lets followers immerse themselves in news and content in (almost) real time.
Companies can use this feature to give followers a preview of festive decorations, special dishes being developed for Christmas menus or even products released specifically for Christmas. Doing this will help consumers feel included in the company as well as building anticipation for things to come.
4. Christmas competition
There is no doubt that competitions can generate a lot of engagement and interest on social media. Even those who simply follow for the purpose of joining in could end up converting if the rest of your social content is engaging enough. Therefore, it is worth running a Christmas-specific competition or two.
A caption competition is a quick and simple way to engage followers – this involves uploading a photo to your feed and the best caption from a follower wins a prize. Alternatively, you could go one step further and host a big ‘12 days of Christmas’ competition.
For example, a restaurant may start off by offering a free drink as the first prize, gradually increasing the value as the days go on, a bottle of champagne, a meal for two, a meal for four, a £200 gift voucher and so on. This kind of competition has the added benefit of enticing people to come back day after day, for a chance to win one of the prizes.
Another example of a longer competition is an advent calendar. Each day, a prize is announced, these can vary from the very small, such as a discount code/voucher, to a larger prize such as an experience or gift card of a much greater value.
5. Encourage interactions
Not all content on business social media channels should be promotional. Diversifying the content that is on your feed is vital for keeping engagement and interest levels high. Therefore, among the promotional Christmas content, there should be some posts planned that are there simply to entertain or inspire your following to engage.
A great way of doing this is by running a poll. These can be run on Facebook and Twitter and involve a multiple-answer question being asked of your followers, with the most popular answer being revealed in a separate post. For example, ‘What was the best Christmas single?’, ‘Are you naughty or nice?’, ‘What makes the best Christmas dinner?’.
6. Know your hashtags
Standing out in a sea of posts in someone’s social feeds can be difficult, especially as a business. This is why hashtags are so important – and over Christmas this is no exception.
There are tools to help you think beyond the simple hashtags such as #christmas #christmas2017 #festive. The app Focal Mark allows users to generate several relevant hashtags based on categories they select. For example, if you said your category was a ‘women’s clothing shop’, you would be shown up to 30 relevant hashtags based around that category. To discover Christmas-specific hashtags, you will need to use another tool, such as Display Purposes, these tools used together will provide a great mix of hashtags relevant to both your business and Christmas.
7. Add festive cheer to your pages
Effective social media usage can be as simple as making sure your accounts look the part. Take time to update your cover photos and profile images to reflect the festive period. This will help get followers in the Christmas spirit.
An image that is created for your brand would be more effective than a general stock image. For example, if you are a make-up artist your cover image could be made up of Christmas looks as a demonstration of your work.
8. Social media Christmas offers
As mentioned in some of the other tips – discounts and offers are a proven way to get your brand noticed with the aim of converting followers into consumers.
Offers can be given in a simple post or, to inspire urgency, the offer can be exclusively revealed in your ‘stories’ on Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram. However, for the purpose of monitoring conversions from your posts, tailor your discount codes for each social network.
9. Consider customer service
During the busy season, companies should expect to receive an uplift in customers turning to social media to ask questions and to make their dreaded complaints. This makes customer service on social media a priority over Christmas. People tend to become flustered when gifts haven’t arrived in time, or they arrive damaged – they need to know when you are open, etc. This stress can be alleviated through diligent and attentive social media management.
Leading up to and during the festive season, it may be worth investing in a temporary member of staff dedicated to running and handling your social presence. This will require extra funding which can be obtained by taking out a small business loan, but the benefits of having someone committed to posting content, answering questions and making your channels look amazing would be worth the investment.
As well as being the time for receiving gifts, it is also the time of giving. Charity is a big part of Christmas, remembering those who perhaps will not be enjoying copious amounts of food or getting merry on mulled wine.
For this reason, it is important that businesses show their generous side by giving to charity during the festive season. A popular cause and charity event around this period is Christmas Jumper Day, raising money for the UK’s Save the Children charity. The day involves people wearing Christmas jumpers for the day, even at work. They then post pictures and use the hashtag #christmasjumperday on social media to be a part of the conversation.
Not only does this show that your business is getting involved in a charitable activity, displaying a benevolent side, but it may also push your customers to join the cause.
11. Get your social media Christmas organised
Before diving straight in, it would be beneficial to devise a clear plan of the content you will be posting over the Christmas period and to which social networks.
A content calendar will help you lay out all the posts you want to share over the coming weeks. This will ensure you are not rushing around in the middle of your peak season trying to create content, or end up sharing all your content on Christmas Eve due to not making time beforehand.
Remember, it is never too early to start planning and creating your content.
12. Share, share, share!
Nothing says you are doing a great job on social media like your following engaging with your content and even creating their own user-generated content. For example, if you are an owner of a small business, such as a clothes shop, a photo of a customer wearing their Christmas party outfit bought from your shop will potentially send others your way. Make sure your user handle (your @name) and perhaps a personalised hashtag are easily found both online and offline, this will make it easier for you to track mentions and enable you to share the posts.
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