Holiday social media use: how to reach customers this holiday season

The holidays are the most competitive time of the year for marketers. Cut through the noise with these holiday social media tips.

Historically, we know a couple of things about consumer social media use:

  1. People are on social media during the holidays.
  2. There’s a ton of noise for social media advertising to contend with, both online and in the real world.

Obviously, you want to use social media to get your brand out there during the holiday season. Gift giving is too strong a buying incentive to ignore.

But it’s important to do holiday advertising right. Otherwise, your hard earned marketing dollars won’t do much hard work for you.

We want to help you get your holiday advertising right. So here’s a quick set of tips and best practices for your holiday social media ads.

Use video

We’ve covered using video in social media a bit before, so this one will be brief.

So, using video ads during the holidays is a must. In fact, using video for your social media ads all year is a good idea.

Focus on helpful content

The holidays come with their own basket of challenges and things to do. Cooking, traveling, staying with relatives, choosing gifts. The holidays can be overwhelming, and people need help.

To capitalize on this, avoid the hard sell. Focus on producing and sharing social media content that helps make the holidays easier.

Clearly, it’s best if you can help people with things that are at least loosely related to your business. But people will appreciate any help they can get.

If you’re stumped on what to help people with, here are some common holiday conundrums you can assist with:

1. Cooking. Many people are cooking for a large group for the first time. Or they might be cooking in an unfamiliar kitchen. Culinary help during the holidays is always appreciated.

2. Traveling. Anything you can do to make traveling to visit family easier will be a hit.

3. Gift giving. If you know a great way to subtly find out what people really want, please share it. Customer service departments around the world will thank you.

4. Fashion. Holiday fashion is important to a lot of people. But even simple things like how to tie a tie can be really helpful for the guys who are meeting new family members for the first time.

5. Winter/summer survival. In both hemispheres, Christmas hits during the most extreme time of the year. In the Northern Hemisphere, people are in the depths of winter. Down south, everyone is sweating as they wait for Santa. So, whether you help people warm up or cool down, you’re going to be popular with someone.

This list could go on, but you get the idea.

Providing helpful holiday content separates you from the din of advertisements shouting, “Buy this stuff!” and frames your brand as the sort of customer-focused business people like to buy from.

Get your timing right

Earlier we mentioned that people do use social media during the holidays. However, there are nuances to this.

People tend to buy and engage the most on social media in the days and weeks before the actual holidays.

Look at how people engaged with the New York Times on social media during the holidays:



Note the significant spikes in the weeks before Thanksgiving and in the days before Christmas. On the other hand, engagement is closer to the median—or even below it—on the holidays themselves.

This means that you’ll get the best results if you start your holiday social media campaigns sooner rather than later.

Then, cut back on your budget on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

It’s in good taste to leave people alone during family time. But it’ll also save you some money on ads, since people aren’t engaging so much on those days.

Utilize user generated content

A few years back, Starbucks gave people a chance to design a Starbucks holiday cup in their #redcupcontest campaign.

A #redcupcontest photo was shared every 14 seconds, and the contest received over 40,000 entries.

User generated content drives engagement with your brand better than almost any other sort of content. It gives people a fun way to have a conversation with your business and contribute to the fun.

The holidays are an especially ripe time for user generated content, because people are doing special things that they want to share. So offering people a platform for sharing their holiday experiences will always be a big hit.

If you’re not sure where to start with user generated content, start with a brand specific hashtag that people can use to share their content and focus on a universal challenge of the holidays. That way people will produce content that resonates with a very broad audience.

Still stuck? Here’s a starter topic: holiday travel.

People use social media to share their holiday travel experiences to such an extent that it actually affects travel plans and undermines travel industry advertising.

This means that you’ve got a huge bucket of potential user generated content in the travel arena.

Create a New Year’s social media campaign

This one gets overlooked a lot.

Thanks to events like Black Friday and the tradition of giving gifts, Thanksgiving and Christmas take the spotlight during the holidays.

But New Years is actually more universal than Thanksgiving and Christmas, since not everybody celebrates those holidays.

Almost everybody does something for New Years.

You can actually appeal to a wider audience with your New Year’s campaigns.

Not only that, but New Year’s deals are a great way to offload excess or old stock to make room for new supply, if you need to.

So there it is.

Social media advertising during the holidays is actually pretty straightforward.

We’re getting pretty late in the year. You’ll want to put these tips and tricks to use in your social media ads pretty quickly.

Once you’re all set and reaching out to your holiday audience, tag us on social media and let us know how your ads are working for you!


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