'Tis the season for crowded email inboxes (as retailers increase their frequency for sending promotional messages) and flooded social media news feeds (as friends post even more pictures of their food, families and fun outings), which means marketers have a tougher time engaging their target audiences online.
When it comes to social media, however, plenty of brands (even non-retailers) are still able to connect with followers in meaningful ways. Check out some holiday strategies that can keep people clicking, liking and commenting even during this busy time of the year - so your brand is top of mind in 2017.
There's nothing like last-minute shopping and brands with anything digital to offer (e.g., subscriptions, gift cards, music, etc.) should take advantage of this period by promoting their offering, which can be sent digitally.
Throughout the year, it can be difficult to find interesting moments to share on social media because office days aren't always filled with events that an audience may find entertaining. The holidays, however, tend to bring office parties, decorations, contests, award ceremonies and other share-able moments.
In addition to sharing photos (like PAN Communications did on Instagram) of these behind-the-scenes looks at a company, why not go live? Facebook Live, Instagram Stories and Snapchat all provide platforms to share genuine, fun moments that can connect an audience to a brand in a unique way since these real-time shares tend to be less polished - adding to their appeal.
Plenty of studies exist that indicate the best times to post on social media, but the holidays bring about different routines because of time off, work lulls, vacations, school breaks and other disruptors. Whether you use best practices of scheduling (like seeing when your audience is most active via Facebook Insights) or subscribe to your own set of scheduling rules, consider a tool like Buffer to optimize when to post (as it will calculate that for you) or re-think scheduling yourself.
For example, if you tend to post at 9 a.m. EST on Twitter every Friday because your business followers often engage with your content during that time, you may want to consider posting later in the day as winter holiday clicks tend to happen in the afternoon or even saving that valuable content for a time where more high-value followers will be online and ready to read your material. Similarly, if you have scheduled content through the month of December and early January, it's wise to look at those scheduled posts to ensure they make sense for the day (e.g., a scheduled post for Dec. 26 would make sense on any other Monday but may not when a lot of people have the day off since Christmas lands on a Sunday this year).
With everyone on their mobile phones during their time off, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter app usage is likely to be much higher toward the end of this month. Plus, since we know that friends' posts tend to be presented before brands' on most networks, this could be a good time to boost a post, create a buyable pin or take advantage of any number of social media advertising opportunities in order to break through the feeds and make a connection before 2017 arrives.
Marketers are getting better about connecting the time and money spent on their social media efforts to actual conversions for their enterprise, but there is still work to be done. If your company is like many others, then you may have some extra time on your hands this month to get to projects you didn't have the bandwidth for the rest of the year. Now is as good of a time as any to really figure out the return on investment for social media, so you have a good starting point for the new year.
Who's actively engaging with your social media posts? Is your audience mostly male or female, young or old? Are they on their mobile devices or desktop computers? Facebook Insights provides a free and meaningful look at the audience that is engaging with your brand on that network. By knowing their device type, for instance, a company can start to understand where their followers are accessing content from - on a desktop at work or at home or a mobile phone at home or the go. Knowing something more involved like how many of the people who liked their Page are in a certain state, can also give marketers a better idea of when to post, what type of content to promote and if any targeting is necessary - all yearlong.
If marketers have more downtime this time of year, perhaps their developers do too. Whether it's tasking someone for the job or keeping it on their radar for 2017, marketers should consider adding functions to their site that make their content more easily shareable and engaging, like Twitter cards, a Pin this button or a way to use a person's social media profile to comment, refer or share.
+ Recommended Reading: 4 Social Updates to Make Right Now
Social media management tools typically assist brands identify their top influencers, so marketers should use this information to give thanks to those people who have helped spread their messaging on social media. Whether it's a gift card or just a simple tweet, give thanks to influencers this time of year. While you're at it, consider entering into some partnerships with brand advocates, whether it's contributing a blog post or posting more formally on the company's behalf.
It's the end of the year, so the timing is impeccable to ask employees how your brand did all year. By surveying employees about the brand's social media presence, specifically, a company can get some great insights into what they should do better, what content they should share more often, how open employees are to an advocacy program and the list goes on. It's important to remember employees are a company's biggest asset and bringing them into social media planning is a win for marketers questioning their strategies and a win for employees wanting to help their company grow.
+ Recommended Reading: Collaborative & Curated Social Media, Creating an Employee-Advocacy Program for Social Media
Before 2017 starts, make sure you have a social media calendar to remind you of big events the company will want to promote, to take advantage of social media "holidays" that relate to the brand and any other posts you don't want to forget to create/share.
Whether it's a spin on the classic "12 Days of Christmas," a predictions piece for 2017 or any other number of content ideas that have a holiday twist, get in the spirit by planning and promoting this content on the various social media channels.
There should always be someone on to monitor brand mentions - even during the holidays. If the social media manager wants to be completely offline during his or her time away from the office, then they should task someone with monitoring brand mentions and responding to an critical ones (like requests or complaints).
Increasing engagement during the holiday season isn't just for retailers. By following some of these strategies, brands can keep their engagement levels up and start the new year on the right digital foot.