Long ago, before, "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" were forces to be reckoned with, the Friday and weekend after Thanksgiving were reserved for loading up the family in a big, shiny, blue station wagon and cruising the neighborhood lights displays. If you were lucky, the day started earlier with visits to the mall or a department store or restaurant to see their Christmas decorations and tree lighting ceremonies. Please also note, in those long ago days saying, "Christmas" didn't bring out the politically correct police or cup cops.
This was a prime set of days running up to Christmas Day when retailers knew they had but a small window to capture your attention and fleeting dollars. It was an immersive, interactive event that everyone took part in much to the delight of the utility companies and retailers alike.
Today, the station wagon is a global warming SUV, the lights are LED or have been replaced by inflatables, and your neighborhood mall is the place where not a creature is stirring, not even a mouse.
So how do you capture the attention of our screen obsessed society today?
I think it's two things, and those two things must be mobile + social media friendly to help you boost sales leading up to Christmas:
- Visual. You need to look no further than the new north star of social media platforms to see today's younger consumers have turned to visual mediums like Snapchat and Instagram for their communications. Sure, Facebook can't be ignored because of its sheer size and scale, and Twitter's Buy Now integration shows a lot of promise, but even those platforms are stressing the need for crisp visuals to boost engagement with posts. Pinterest was early to the party with visual boards and they are definitely still in the hunt with consumers who are thrifty, do-it-yourselfers and / or moms.
- Experience. Throwing your daily deals into the social media fog and hoping for a Rudolph to come guide them to your customers is as viable a sales strategy as keeping Frosty the Snowman lively without his top hat. All these screens, updates and information have made us extremely short on attention and long on an experience that creates a memory or image worthy of a dozen hashtags. Social Media experiences get friends and networks involved naturally instead of begging for shares, Likes and follows. Mind you, you can still be on the nice list by encouraging visitors to Like or otherwise share your photo contest, but it needs to be because those consumers were led to you in the first place through curiosity versus being interrupted.
Now I don't want to be accused of being Jack Frost and dropping a few quick snowflakes and leaving, so I'm going to give you a few more specific tips to boost sales leading up to Christmas with social media:
- Research and find the best Holiday shopping hastags for your business. Don't think you have to stick to "Christmas" theme hastags only. Look into Hannukah and Kwanza themed hashtags too. Remember, hashtags work on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter with ease.
- Run a photo contest on Instagram. You'll probably have to look into a platform like WishPond to pull it off effectively, but they make it easy to create and track Instagram and photo contests for even novice users.
- Create a Pinterest scavenger hunt. You can hurt yourself researching options here, so it's best to just look at some examples and adapt your favorites to your store or operations.
- Don't go chestnuts with email. Our friends over at HubSpot have done extensive research on the decline in Holiday email open rates, including this nugget: beginning the night before Thanksgiving, we found a 6% decline in the amount of emails being opened. I can tell you from personal experience, I received far too many, "Black Friday Doorbuster Deal" emails and I haven't even made it to the follow on emails this weekend.
If you're reading this, chances are good you need to put a nice bow on your last minute Holiday sales, or you're planning ahead for President's Day. In either case, these tips can be adapted to seasons, specific Holidays and most importantly to your desired buyer personas and target audience. While not exhaustive, I hope you enjoy a little more time under the mistletoe now that I've shared how to boost sales leading up to Christmas using social media.
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