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The 5 Most Important Elements of a Holiday Social Media Strategy

  |  September 18, 2012   |  Comments

With a busy holiday season beginning to dawn on the horizon, there is no better time to focus on what works best today in social media marketing.

As social media marketers plan for their sixth holiday season, it's a great time to take stock of the current best practices for amplifying campaigns - and sales - because this year's formula for social marketing success is different.

It's different because both the social landscape (Facebook Timeline, Pinterest, Instagram) and social consumer behaviors (think mobile use and approach to product discovery) have evolved considerably in the last 12 months.

Before we get to the holidays, let me first give a little context.

As I've shared in past columns, we've seen an evolution in social media marketing. First, we were focused on community building and growing fan and follower counts. Marketers then built on that foundation by focusing on engaging fans with content and conversation. And today, we're riding the next wave, focusing on product promotion and quantifying returns from social.

While some early vendors made it easy and inexpensive to publish lightweight social "engagement apps" around things like contests, voting, and content publishing, many marketers have found that these low-cost tactics are also low value.

And, as with many new channels, especially one as complicated and dynamic as social and mobile, there is often wisdom in returning to marketing fundamentals. As a result, today's winning approach is analogous to the traditional marketing funnel of acquire, convert, retain - but as seen through a social media lens.

This movement isn't a wishful longing for days past, it's a call to focus on what works. And with a busy holiday season beginning to dawn on the horizon, there is no better time to focus on what works best today in social media marketing. So, without further ado, I present the five most important elements of a holiday social media marketing strategy:

  1. Promotion: rich posts across social networks. Social channels are specializing. Customer attention is fragmenting and content streams are getting richer. Make sure you have a clear definition of who you want to reach and how to earn your way into their attention streams. Use the best of each network to drive reach and activation.
  2. Engagement: experiences that drive amplification and consideration. Social customers want to explore and engage with your products; they want to have their voice heard by voting, commenting, curating, etc. Treat them like a VIP and enable them to create sharable content while they experience your products in a social context.

  3. Amplification: build momentum cross social networks. Social amplification comes primarily from users sharing content they either create or find valuable. Make it easy for participants to share through your identified key social channels. Make sure that your experiences leverage the strengths of each network when pushing to streams.
  4. Conversion: collect valuable data and social purchase intent. Every social product experience should be designed to elicit a small number of key, valuable actions for the brand. This could be as simple as capturing an email address or generating a post, or it might even include a loyalty program sign-up or purchase.
  5. Analysis: measure and optimize. Closing the loop through reporting is the only way to really understand attribution, quantify results, and ultimately, improve the performance of your social media efforts. Although it will continue to be tough to quantify the influence your marketing efforts have on offline sales, with expertise, proven strategies, and integrated tools, you can truly prove and improve the value you generate.

That's it! Five easy elements that every - yes, every - holiday social strategy must include. Keep this formula in mind as you plan your holiday campaigns and get ready for the most exciting social marketing season yet.


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Kevin Tate

Kevin has been working with brands and retailers to build e-commerce and social media marketing solutions since 1995. As an entrepreneur and business development leader in growth-stage companies, he is most interested in developing new markets at the intersection of consumers, brands, and emerging technologies. Kevin currently leads marketing and product management at ShopIgniter, providers of Enterprise Social Commerce solutions to the F1000.

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