Social media marketing has always been a tricky game to play since the rules keep changing. One thing we have always known, however, is that it’s a game we, ecommerce entrepreneurs, need to be playing.
With holiday season slowly approaching, social media marketing is about to turn into a marathon, so it’s crucial to start preparing for it early. To save you some precious time, in this blog post we’ll look at the biggest social media marketing trends you should pay attention to during these upcoming holidays.
1. Leverage video content on social media
It’s not a secret that video marketing is a major trend to exploit. With 50% of consumers looking for a video of a product before visiting the online store, we can conclude that video is an extremely effective method of drawing action out of the viewer.
Studies show that 72% of internet users prefer watching a video to learn about a product or service over consuming the same information in a written form. Besides, 51.9% of marketers say that video offers the best ROI (return on investment), and it’s known to drive a 157% increase in organic traffic from SERPs (search engine result pages).
How to get started with video marketing?
You’ll need to decide what the goal of your holiday video campaign is. Most commonly, brands concentrate on:
- 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)
Whatever your goal is, don’t hard sell. The holiday season is the best time to let your guard down a little and be more personal with your audience. Focus on creating content that shows your brand personality and helps nurture relationships with your customers.
Here’s a heartwarming television advert from John Lewis:
Now onto production!
Creating video content used to be an incredibly pricey endeavor, reserved only for those who had all the necessary equipment, knew how to edit, or who could afford to outsource all of that.
Thanks to modern technologies (and market demand), plenty of tools have cropped up to make the lives of marketers and small business owners easier by helping to create and edit video content. These are the tools you can start with:
- Lumen5 – takes a blog post you’ve already written and turns it into video material
- Placeit – this platform has a ton of mockups – both mockup images, and, you guessed it, mockup videos. Videos like this one, this or this here let you place your own designs on the t-shirts.
- Nutshell – combine images, captions, and elements that come together in a mini video
- Magisto – similar to Nutshell, shoot small video clips on your phone, then add captions, elements, backgrounds, and music
Remember, just because you’re making a video, it doesn’t have to be complicated! Keep it simple and sweet.
2. Spice up your social media content with disappearing stories
Over the last couple of years, disappearing stories have become a marketing buzzword. In case you don’t already know, they are snippets of the day recorded by an individual or a company. These videos or images are visible to the public for up to 24 hours before they disappear into thin air forever.
If you use Instagram, you now can save your best stories to Highlights.
Disappearing content was first introduced by Snapchat back in 2011, and just a year after launching, the company had 10 million active users. After a successful takeoff of the new communication channel, Instagram and Facebook were quick to introduce disappearing stories as new features to their audiences too.
But why do social media users enjoy disappearing content so much?
The answer is simple – disappearing stories create a direct line of communication with followers that is more natural. Rather than seeing ultra-polished, on-brand marketing materials, you get to see a more human side of the company or peek behind the scenes.
Tim Ferriss, in a conversation with Noah Kagan, said that the best marketing tactic for selling his new book Tools of Titans was the “swipe up” feature of Instagram Stories. This beat out Facebook Live, which he said was often hit or miss, depending on how much marketing and distribution muscle you could put behind it. Gone are the days of “go live, and people will watch.”
The “swipe up” feature lets you connect a URL to the Instagram Story. This way you can direct your followers to a specific URL on your website.
The “swipe up” feature is currently only available to verified Instagram accounts and business accounts with 10k+ followers.
To start using disappearing stories, you’ll first have to pick a platform. Each has its own benefits, and we’ve outlined them all to help you choose.
Once you’ve decided which platform works the best for you and your audience, let’s look into a few ideas of what you can do with your stories:
- Share a teaser for an upcoming product
- Share behind-the-scenes of your store – how you’re updating it, what your new product brainstorming process is like, etc.
- Show your followers what your entrepreneurial workstation is like – whether it’s your dining room table or your favorite local coffee shop, it will bring you closer together with your followers
3. Start personalizing your social media ads, now
Did you know that 79% of consumers say they are only likely to engage with an offer if it has been personalized based on their previous interactions with the brand?
This once again proves that when it comes to advertising on social media, personalization is the key. You see, the battle to win customers’ attention has never been as competitive as it is today. And if you’re not personalizing your advertising efforts yet, chances are you’re losing some of your customers to competitors who have it sorted out.
Let’s look into a few personalized advertising methods:
Bring your visitors back to the website using social media retargeting
Retargeting is a form of targeted online advertising that allows brands to present personalized offers to their visitors or customers based on their behavior on the website.
This online advertising method is a great way to stay in your customers’ eyesight. It can help build brand awareness, acquire new customers, or even steal the attention of your competitors’ customers.
“But how?” you might ask.
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.
At the moment, retargeting ads are available on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and Pinterest.
When it comes to retargeting ads, you need to be patient. Just because a visitor hasn’t clicked on your retargeting ad yet doesn’t mean that they’re not going to. So if your ads are not converting, consider changing up your copy, design, CTA, or the frequency of how often the ad is shown. Be flexible, and don’t forget to test different variations!
Cross-sell or upsell your existing customers
There probably are products on your store that go well together. So go ahead and show them to customers who already have one of them. For example, if your customers purchased a pair of yoga leggings, let them know they can get a matching sports bra too!
And if it’s been quite a while since your customer purchased, let’s say, a t-shirt, reach out to them with an offer to get a new one. Or even better, since it’s getting colder, promote a hoodie or hat with a complementing design.
Take advantage of geographical locations to accelerate more sales
Most social media platforms let you segment your audience by its geographical location. This is a great opportunity to convey different and more relevant messages to groups of your followers located all over the globe. Here are just a few ways you can make the most of this targeting option:
- Thanksgiving campaigns for Canadians. Target customers located in Canada to showcase personalized ads with special Thanksgiving offers. Thanksgiving in Canada falls on Monday, October 8th this year. Why not send them a nice email, thanking them for their business? And perhaps a little Canadian-only discount or deal?
- Southern hemisphere vs. northern hemisphere. When thinking of holiday ecommerce sales, we, Northerners, tend to think about beanies, toques, sweaters, and scarves. But keep in mind that those on the Southern side of the earth are actually gearing up for their summertime. Try targeting a summery and warm-weather deal to customers, in Australia and New Zealand, for example. Or even better, match warm-weather essentials with upcoming holidays. That’s what Startup Vitamins did by creating an “ugly Christmas t-shirt” line.
Now warm-weathered people could still get in on the ugly sweater fun!
- Chinese New Year. Around 1.4 billion people across the globe celebrate Chinese New Year. It explains why every year more and more brands choose to mark this holiday on their marketing calendars. And that’s exactly what Canadian athletic apparel retailer Lululemon did back in February – the company launched a Chinese New Year-inspired collection. Now, you don’t have to create an entire collection to celebrate the occasion, but putting together a marketing campaign might be worth it.
4. Welcome mobile social media users
Today there are roughly 2.54 billion smartphone users worldwide, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that most of us are shifting to an even more mobile-centric user experience. We have our little, portable, hand-held computers (aka smartphones) with us practically all the time, and we use them for pretty much everything.
Most importantly, it has become the most common means of consuming social media. And if you want this holiday season to be a successful one, you have to take a mobile-first approach to your social media marketing strategies. Here’s what you should consider doing first:
Adjust image and text size
Any images you display on your website should be big enough to view on a tiny screen. What might look good on you 35” retina display won’t necessarily be compatible with small smartphones.
Make sure that any text on images or video you share is legible on a smartphone. But note that if you’re creating advertising materials, you’re going to have to tread a fine line. Facebook will penalize your content by showing it to fewer people if the image contains too much text. You should limit your text to no more than one-third of the image space. Use this Facebook tool to check if you’re within the boundaries.
Share vertical content
Vertical is the next big thing – the amount of vertical videos has grown from 5% in 2011 to 30% in 2016. This is thanks to the rise of consuming (and creating) videos in a vertical format, and it’s helped along by platforms like Vine, Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook.
When your content is vertical, it takes up a proportionately larger amount of your screen compared to horizontally filmed videos because they fit to the width of your phone. Most people are lazy and won’t bother to turn their phones to get a full viewing experience.
Subtitle your videos
Recent studies show that 85% of Facebook video content is watched without sound. Think about it – if the majority of social media time is on a mobile phone, chances are the people are on the go, whether they’re standing in line at the grocery store on their morning commute. And these are all situations when you might not want to turn the sound on, and who has time for headphones?
If you don’t want your hard work to go to waste, be sure to subtitle your videos, especially the ones you share on your social media accounts. Yes, it does take a bit of your time, but it’s certain to capture more interest. Here are some free tools you can use to do it:
- 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
Put yourself in the shoes of your buyers
The general rule of thumb you should follow this holiday season is simple – whatever you decide to do, 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 see and engage with, you’re going to do great!
If this post got you excited to try out some ideas for your social media channels, then we’ve got a treat for you! We put together free visuals you can use for your holiday campaigns. Use them as they are, or make a personal touch by editing.
This article was originally published in September 2017; it has since been updated.