Depending on the timeline you prefer, the world’s been using social media for about two decades. It’s a tricky game to play—the good is great and the bad is awful—, but one that ecommerce entrepreneurs have to keep playing.
Black Friday Cyber Monday is the main sales event of the year, and it’s a marathon, not a sprint, so prep can never start soon enough! Keep reading to find out about the top three trends of 2019 to follow for holiday marketing success. Once you’re done, get started with your holiday social media strategy.
Heads up—I’m skipping over most social media industry stats and percentages. Let’s agree that we both know social media is (a) still growing and (b) still a major influence on retail sales and beyond. If you’re unconvinced, do a count of how many passers-by are on their devices next time you’re out and about.
Plus, there’s a surprise waiting for you at the end of this post—a batch of free visuals for your holiday social media campaigns!
1. A defined video content strategy
Video killed the radio star, and it’s nowhere near finished with its spree.
The web is more visual than ever, with content creators and brands choosing to show their story rather than have someone read it. It’s unlikely we’ll be going back to purely text-based promo anytime soon, we’re way too hooked on the amazing videos being put out.
Decide on your message
The golden rule for any marketing campaign is, don’t hard sell. Your audience knows you’re after sales, and they’re not going to buy from you just for the hell of it (unless it’s an impulse buy). Give them something in exchange for their time and money. In the content world, it’s either entertainment or education.
Here’s Asos’ take on entertaining video marketing. Last holiday season, a highly shareable video of theirs was a nod to the much-loved cards scene from “Love Actually”:
Going in the opposite direction, Toronto-based organic brand Kotn created an educational statement for their 2018 Black Friday video. The campaign aimed to raise awareness and funds towards the fight against illiteracy in rural Egypt.
Aside from picking the message type—entertainment or education—, you’ll also need to decide on a specific goal of your holiday video marketing campaign:
- Gaining extra exposure (e.g. sharing holiday spirit through creative brand storytelling)
- Increasing sales (e.g. showcasing new products or items that would make great gifts)
No matter what you do, focus on content that shows your brand personality and helps nurture relationships with your customers. The holiday season is the best time to let your guard down a little and be more personal with your audience.
Choose a video editing tool
Creating video content used to be an incredibly pricey endeavor, reserved only for those who had the necessary equipment, knew how to edit footage, or could afford to outsource all of that. Thanks to modern technologies and market demand, plenty of video tools have cropped up to make the lives of marketers and small business owners easier.
Remember, your video doesn’t have to be complicated to be a hit! Keep it simple and sweet. These are the tools you can start with:
- Lumen5—takes a blog post you’ve already written and turns it into video material.
- Placeit (affiliate link, read more here)—this platform has a ton of photo and video mockups that let you place your own designs on the t-shirts.
- Magisto—shoot small video clips on your phone, then add captions, elements, backgrounds, and music.
People are going to watch most of your videos on smartphones—devices held vertically. If you come across a horizontally filmed video on your social media while on the go, how likely is it that you’re going to turn your phone to get the full viewing experience?
Compared to horizontally filmed videos, vertical video content takes up a proportionately larger amount of the screen (and looks nicer). So bye-bye 16:9, and hello 9:16—the vertical format is slowly becoming the new default for creating and watching videos for social media.
If you haven’t experimented with switching up the orientation for your holiday social media videos, now’s a good time to try it out.
Subtitle your videos
A lot of us are on our phones while in line at the grocery store, in a doctor’s waiting room, or on our morning commute. These are all situations you might not want to turn the sound on, and who has time for headphones?
Don’t let your hard work go to waste—subtitle your social media videos.
Here are some free tools you can use to create video subs:
- Movavi—the interface is reminiscent of an actual video editor
- Subtitle Edit—open source, the design is a bit more old school
- Windows Movie Maker—if you’re on Windows, use Movie Maker’s “subtitle” feature
2. On-brand social media stories
Social media stories—snippets of the day recorded by an individual or a company—have become a marketing staple. The videos or images posted on stories are visible to the public for up to 24 hours before disappearing into thin air.
Stories work because they create a direct line of communication with followers. They’re the new shop window—you get to see the product as well as the person behind the counter. It’s more natural than seeing only polished marketing materials, and you get to see a more human side of the business.
Today, a combined one billion accounts use Instagram and Facebook stories daily—users can’t get enough of that behind-the-scenes feel.
Pick a platform and a message
Once you’ve decided which platform works best for your audience (Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or YouTube), get creative. Find a visual look that complements your brand identity—with so many filters, tagging options, gifs, emojis, and even songs to play around with, you’re bound to make something your audience is going to enjoy!
Below are a few ideas on how you can use stories for holiday social media (don’t forget about the “entertain or educate” rule we just discussed with video content):
- Share a teaser for an upcoming product
- Remind followers about deals, steals, and order deadlines
- Share behind-the-scenes of your store—how you’re updating it or what a new product brainstorming process is like
- Give a tour of your workstation, whether it’s your dining room table or a local coffee shop
- Collaborate with an influencer or a partner—put together a story takeover, co-host a giveaway, etc.
- Spread holiday cheer and show people how you’re preparing for the festivities
We know Instagram for its Stories, but the platform offers a lot more than that. If you want to go more in-depth on how Instagram can grow your brand, we’ve got a couple of useful resources for you:
- The ultimate guide to Instagram hashtags that’ll help reach your audience faster and better
- Our how-to on selling on Instagram that shows you how to make your account a shopping experience using Swipe Up, Story Highlights, and other features
- A video tutorial on Instagram selling strategies for all you auditory learners
3. Personalized advertising
The battle to win customers’ attention has never been as competitive as it is today. If you’re not personalizing your advertising efforts, chances are you’re losing customers to competitors who have it sorted out.
Let’s look into a few personalized advertising methods.
Use social media retargeting
Retargeting is a form of targeted online advertising that allows brands to present personalized offers to visitors based on their on-site behavior. It can help build brand awareness, acquire new customers, or even steal the attention of your competitors’ customers.
Let’s say a customer viewed a few items on your website and left without taking an action. Using retargeting ads, you can showcase the same products on social media feeds. Even better, give them a special discount to encourage immediate conversion.
When it comes to retargeting ads, be flexible and patient. Just because a visitor hasn’t clicked on your ad yet doesn’t mean that they’re not going to. If your ads aren’t converting, change up your copy, design, CTA, or display frequency of the ad, and try testing different variations.
Cross-sell or upsell your existing customers
You probably have products on your store that go well together—make these product pairings a part of your store experience. For example, if someone has purchased a pair of yoga leggings, let them know they can get a matching sports bra and a sporty fanny pack to complete the look!
And if it’s been quite a while since your customer purchased, say, a t-shirt, reach out to them with an offer to get a new one. Or even better, if it’s getting colder in their neck of the woods, promote a hoodie or hat with a complementing design.
Boost sales with geo-targeting
Most social media platforms let you segment your audience by geographical location. This is a great opportunity to make your messages more relevant, depending on where your followers are. Here are just a few ways you can make the most of this targeting option:
- Thanksgiving campaigns for Canadians. Target customers located in Canada with personalized ads and Thanksgiving offers. Thanksgiving in Canada falls on Monday, October 14th this year. Why not send them a shout-out, thanking them for their business? Or perhaps a Canada-only discount or deal?
- Chinese New Year. More than 20% of the entire population celebrate Chinese New Year, explaining why more and more brands choose to mark it on their holiday marketing calendars. Athletic apparel retailer Lululemon followed suite and launched a Chinese New Year-inspired collection last February.
- Southern hemisphere vs. northern hemisphere. When thinking of holiday ecommerce sales, northerners tend to think about beanies, sweaters, and scarves. However, those on the Southern side of the Earth are actually gearing up for their summertime. Try targeting a warm-weather deal to customers in Australia and New Zealand, for example. Or even better, match summer essentials with upcoming holidays. That’s what Startup Vitamins did by creating an “ugly Christmas t-shirt” line:
Tell a story your customers want to hear
Whatever you decide to do for your holiday marketing campaigns, keep your customers in mind. As long as you think as they do, are on the platforms they use, and produce content they want to engage with, you’re going to do great!
Excited to try out some ideas for your social media channels? Well, then we’ve got a treat for you—we put together a set of free visuals you can use for your holiday social media. Use them as they are, or make a personal touch by editing. Have fun!
This article was originally published in September 2017; it has since been updated.