Be of Good Cheer – Social Media for the Holidays!

The holidays are (huh?) fast upon us and it is time to think through your company’s approach to the season. I’m not just talking about office parties, decorations, and vacation time. I mean strategy, marketing, and tactics. And the most obvious of these tactics? Social Media!

That’s right, friends. There is no better opportunity to connect with your customers, entertain your followers, and create some buzz than there is in focusing your efforts ’round the old yule log. There is a reason that marketers start to salivate at holiday time, and it goes beyond the concept of Black Friday and 70% of earnings that many retailers see over the next 60 or so day.

The reason is customers are highly persuadable at this time of year and tend to be more receptive to your messaging as well as your generosity. It is no coincidence that advertising volume increases dramatically at this time of year – see those big cheery smiles on the faces of your local TV ad-traffic departments and magazine ad-sale folks? People (some of them your customers) are more willing to open their wallets, for everything from charitable donations to generous gifts to lavish purchases strictly for their own enjoyment. How can your social media strategy help you to better serve your existing customers, connect with new customers, and improve your bottom line? Here are 5 thoughts that you should bear in mind as you start your own brainstorming process:

1. Reach out! So many practitioners tend to forget this simple rule, but social media is not a soapbox, not a place for speeches, but rather (as we’ve been told countless times) a place for conversations. And the holidays provide a perfect time to chat it up with your followers, old and new. Talk to your customers and ask them what it is they’re doing for the holidays, what’s their happiest tradition, or even whether they’ve been naughty and/or nice. Engage your customers in social media and as the bonds grow, so too will the loyalty they feel towards you and your brand.

2. Be charitable. Just about every entrepreneur I know would give the coat off their back if someone was in need. This time of year is the perfect time to use your social voice to amplify all of the good that businesses and individuals can do. Coat drives are wonderful and the people helped say thanks every day of the polar vortex, but there are many other ways to give besides cleaning out your closet and getting rid of that old shmata you never wear anyhow. Talk to your team – see if anyone is participating in a charitable effort that needs support or is volunteering for an organization that deserves help. Then get onto your SM channels and bast it out to the world. Don’t just brag about the good things your company has done, but encourage others to do the needful, too.

3. Share the cheer. Social media best practices highly encourage sharing and tell stories and holiday time is the perfect time to do just that. It is the perfect opportunity and the best time of year to directly involve your customers and encourage sharing. How? Share with them and ask them to share with you, of course! What? How about asking them to upload photos of their own holiday decorations or post their own wish-lists for gifts they’d like to receive or share stories of their own charitable giving or volunteer experiences. People want to feel connected and this is why they use social media in the first place; a better time of year for connecting just does not exist.

4. Play up your company’s culture. Your brand is everything and your company culture helps to define it and social media helps to promote it. Your posts shoud always reflect your company’s voice and show off your company’s culture, especially at holiday time. Post those funny photos of the team outing, share the details of your holiday party, and let those horrific Christmas sweaters shine through at any opportunity. Take photos, share videos, and document for the world to see!

5. Be strategic. The message counts (especially at this time of year) as does the medium. Choose your tools and tactics with care and consider your audience; at holiday time, people tend to be a bit looser and have a little more free time on their hands, so let your posts ring lighter, your videos be a little sillier, and your sharing be a little more relaxed. As with all marketing efforts, let your goals drive your strategic approach, but make sure that your social media sharing reflects the festive time of year and that your engagement is about connecting and not just selling.

Illustration: Wikimedia, Christmas before digital