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8 Ways Brands Can Use Social Media to Increase Holiday Sales

Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday may be over, but this doesn’t mean the best retail opportunities are. According to McKinsey, the holiday shopping season started early, but it will also end late this year. And more than 60% of Americans typically buy gifts this week.

This holiday season, brands and retailers are leveraging the power of social media to increase sales and drive engagement with their audiences. Notably, nearly half of Gen Z will buy their gifts through social media this year, according to a Shopify survey. Brands are especially increasing their TikTok investments. 

Make It Fun. 

Holiday social media should be uplifting and festive. Your audience should feel like they’re at a digital party. One way to accomplish this is by diversifying content: whether it’s designing a gift guide, posting a humorous or feel-good reel, or teaming up with influencers or other retailers to foster a sense of a broader community. 

Amazon launched its 2023 holiday campaign, “Joy is Shared,” with a commercial called “Joy Ride”. In it, three older women sit on a park bench watching kids sledding. They use Amazon to order seat cushions, which they put on sleds so they can take part in the winter tradition. 

Coca-Cola also launched a campaign, “The World Needs More Santas”, with a generative AI-fueled platform that allows consumers to design digital holiday cards featuring Santa Claus and the brand’s polar bears. And Walmart snagged Lindsay Lohan and other “Mean Girls” cast members to recreate scenes from the iconic 2004 teen comedy for its holiday ad

Create a Holiday Competition. 

Competitions are one of the best ways to generate audience engagement and get the word out about your best-selling products. Make sure your prize will appeal to a large portion of your audience: refine your buyer persona and utilize this data when you select prizes. Entry requirements should involve some kind of engagement – such as liking, sharing and/or commenting on a retailer post. 

In November, J.C. Penney launched a creative take on promoting holiday savings with its “Penney Prepper Challenge”, which asked consumers to showcase how they entertained guests for $300 or less. Users voted on social media for the top #PenneyPrepperChallenge displays. The retailer also gave away $500 gift cards every hour on Black Friday. 

Utilize (Micro) Influencer Marketing.

Influencer marketing impacts their brand awareness, 89 percent of marketers say. But while retailers like Nike have teamed up with NBA legend Kevin Durant this year, don’t underestimate the capabilities of micro-influencers, those with 10,000–100,000 followers. 

As consumers become skeptical of social media authenticity, influencers with a smaller number of followers – typically a tight-knit and devoted community – could help generate better sales through the trust they’ve established with their audience. One example: travel beauty business Cadence uses its social media to recruit influencers to be a part of their creator community. 

Don’t Forget the Stockings.

Use your social media to inform customers about smaller stocking stuffers – not just the big, flashy presents. Early shoppers may have purchased their “showstopper” gifts on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but most consumers leave stocking shopping for December. 

Touchland, which created a pocket-sized hand sanitizer mist, caters to customers who want to buy it for themselves, too, with a “one for me, one for you” strategy. Its Build Your Own Bundle tool allows consumers to build a five- or 10-pack of hand sanitizers with various fragrances.

Advertise Last Minute Deals

Last year, more than 35 percent of consumers waited until Christmas Eve to finish their shopping. Make sure to align last-minute deals with your omnichannel network. Whether it’s an online platform like Walmart or Amazon that can get the gifts delivered in time for the holiday, or ads that let customers know about in-store options, customers should still be able to take advantage of any deals after shipping cutoff dates. 

Francesca’s, for example, plans to offer bigger percentage-off discounts for customers who shop in stores. And resorts like ClubMed offer last-minute travel deals for shoppers who are looking for a unique holiday experience. 

Give Back. 

Use social media to show how your company contributes to good causes over the holidays. This could be donating items (such as through a “buy one, give one” campaign) or a portion of sales to a charity, or creating an interactive donation competition that engages audiences online.  

One of the best examples of this was M&M’s Red Nose Day campaign in 2015. Every time a consumer made someone laugh and shared the story on social media using the campaign hashtag #MakeMLaugh, M&M’s donated a dollar to combat child poverty. The campaign generated 270 million social media impressions and resulted in a $1.25 million donation to the Red Nose Day fund. 

Use AI Tools.

According to McKinsey, retailers are using AI tools this holiday season to “quickly gather and synthesize what consumers are saying, almost in real time, then adjust what they’re doing – almost [like] ‘test and learn’ on steroids.” 

Retailers also use AI for customer service. According to Sprout Social, 76 percent of consumers “notice and appreciate when companies prioritize customer support”, and another 70 percent “expect companies to provide personalized responses to customer care needs”. Retailers are also using AI tools like Hookle to generate social media posts, through features like smart content suggestion and image suggestion.

Blend Shopping and Entertainment.

This year, retailers are producing more entertaining social media content. Electronics company Vizio teamed up with The Home Depot to create a YouTube video series of ten-minute episodes that showcase the way families use Home Depot products to decorate their homes. 

“Shoppable technology is expanding the role of brand storytelling from an upper-to-mid funnel tool to driving immediate commerce action and sales impact,” said Brandon Helrich, group director at Omnicom Media Group’s The Content Collective, which developed the programming. 

Retailers also rely on other tools, like QR codes, TikTok Shop, Facebook Shops and shoppable posts. A variety of e-commerce solutions, like Dash Hudson’s platform, can create embeddable user-generated content, like photos, videos and reviews, on product pages or links-in-bio.  

Social media usage time increases during the holidays. With the colder weather and greater leisure, people have more time to interact online. To close out the year, strategic and creative social media campaigns will be key to enhancing consumer experience, increasing brand visibility and raising conversion rates.