Social Santa: Give Your Brand the Gift of Followers this Holiday Season

By EJ McGowan, GM of Campaigner

Social will, without a doubt, be top-of-mind for Internet retailers this upcoming holiday season.

Research found that 49 percent of Internet retailers already plan to prioritize social sharing to increase marketing effectiveness, and 71 percent say social integrations are key for successful email marketing campaigns (read more:

What kind of holiday cheer will these brands likely see from social media integrations?

There's a unique value to social campaigns. For instance, social media consumption varies from platform to platform, providing a second, third and fourth opportunity for the savvy marketer. Social also allows for diversification of outreach platforms like the addition of mobile for a company that has traditionally only done desktop. And, generally, it is an incremental, cost-effective strategy that can be added to any email marketing campaign.

QUICK HIT: Discover the optimal time of day to post to different social media networks at

There are two main operations of social: social sharing and social connecting. The former is very powerful because it allows for wider reach through the initial contact's network and general shares. The latter creates a more personal connection between a customer and brand. Both are important to leverage in any successful social integration campaign. In short, social is the gift that keeps on giving.

How can you take advantage and turn it into the Rudolph that will lead you through the blizzard of the upcoming holiday season?

Re-gifting: It's OK (sometimes).

Using social atop an email marketing campaign means marketers already have the content. Besides monitoring and management tools, there's nothing else they need other than ready-to-mail marketing content. Brands can repackage the same content that's in their emails into easily digestible bits that consumers can take in while browsing Twitter or Instagram.

Secret Santa shouldn't always be a secret.

Consumers should always be able to know where their messages are coming from, but, more importantly, they should always be able to connect with the sender. Companies can make it easier on themselves by adding "Follow"¬ù and "Like"¬ù social buttons into their emails that can quickly connect their contacts to their social pages. Be it subscription pages, or even unsubscribed notices, allow consumers to have the option to connect with a brand their way.

Just because they don't want a particular company's emails, doesn't mean they don't want to know what's going on.

Give hints on your gift and see if it's a hit.

Just like email marketing, where subject lines can make or break a message, social media ad headlines can mean the difference between a new or lost follower. Use A/B split testing to determine the best ad headline for social. The more likes, share and followers it generates, the more certain a company can be that it's a winner. This works for posts in general as well.

Marketers should be tracking which of their customers respond on which platforms - there is no single best option - but having that additional information is another piece on which to base segmentation.

Leave out milk and cookies.

As part of embracing social media platforms, launch campaigns that are specifically driven to generate followers and subscribers, not sales. In these cases, marketing emails should be concentrated on social promotion. For instance, grant special offers only when subscribed through a specific social channel. Depending on how many platforms and angles are available to do this, try it once a month or as little as once a quarter. This form of outreach also creates a social presence that will not put off contacts when seen on other emails.

Ultimately, social engagement could make or break your holiday season efforts. Though email marketing campaigns will remain the crux of consumer engagement, social integration could be the differentiator you've been looking for. Use the tips above and give your brand the gift of more followers.