Christmas is just around the corner and as the busiest trading period of the year it’s a crucial time for planning and finalising a social media marketing strategy. Small businesses not only have to compete with larger enterprises and leading brands, but now we’re in the digital era, online retailers across the globe are also vying for your customer’s business.
With over 72% of marketers planning to spend the majority of their social marketing budget during Christmas, how can small business stand out from the crowd? Here are my 5 top tips for small businesses looking to use social media as a marketing tool prior to and during the Christmas season.
1. Start now and plan ahead
Any successful social media strategy requires forward planning. For a small business this isn’t limited to curating content in advance and scheduling it via a social media management platform. As a small business, it’s wise to plan your festive promotions in advance to know when to deliberately push promotions and offers via social networks. By starting now, small businesses can plan and implement their strategy, giving them plenty of time to focus on the increase in demands and enquiries from customers.
2. Exercise social business practices
Being a social business means using social media to gather valuable insights that may shape your business strategy, ultimately influencing business goals. Take the time to observe current conversation and engagement on your small business’ social networks. By practicing ‘social listening’ your small business could learn valuable information it may not have otherwise known.
If there are no conversations to listen in on, spark them yourself. Most followers on your social networks will have a vested interest in your small business and will be keen to share their thoughts if asked. Even a simple question such as “What offerings would you like to see in our Christmas range?” could provide valuable ideas that may not have been thought of.
3. Expand your audience on social media platforms
Christmas is the time for sharing and traditionally when gifts are given and received. If your product or service is typically aimed at a specific demographic, remember that during the busy festive season, their family and friends will be seeking appropriate gifts too. People of different demographics could be potential customers so it’s vital to reach out to an extended audience.
4. Engage with your audience
When curating posts and content, try to vary the style, tone and type so it’s inclusive and relatable for most people. Avoid terminology which may not be understood by somebody not familiar with your product or service and make sure you utilise image-based social media platforms.
Social media marketing is not just limited to the big three: Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. A recent report by Offerpop shows 73% of marketers think of Instagram as the ‘breakout social network’ of 2014. Image-based platforms are growing in popularity and during the festive period, customers will be using these platforms to gain new ideas and inspiration. Creating boards on Pinterest or uploading product images on to Instagram are great ways to engage with modern, image-centric consumers.
Due to the prevalence of smartphone photography, customers are now empowered to take their own images and share this through their networks. During the festive period when decorations are a common sight and gifts are wrapped beautifully, encourage your network to share their most striking photos with your small business through social media channels.
5. Use social media as an extension of customer service
The business landscape has evolved drastically over the past decade and we’re now operating in the digital age. The tech boom has resulted in the Internet, social networks and smartphones now being integrated into everyday life and it’s just as common for customers to communicate with brands via social media as it is via traditional methods such as the telephone.
During the hectic holiday season, customers will no doubt have their fair share of questions, requests and issues. With 42% of consumers expecting a response within 60 minutes the key to using social media as an extension of customer service is a swift and beneficial response. This is where using a social media management platform is advantageous as it allows community managers to view interactions, engagement and conversation in one place. Not only must you keep an eye on engagement and interactions between followers and your page, but ensure your employees are sufficiently trained and confident to respond and engage with any posts or questions submitted via social media.