OK…so I often have polarising opinions on social media. But on September 16th I was reminded in a slightly depressing way that there were 99 days to Christmas! If you have a small business and you’re not using social media, you’re missing a trick. Social media is one of the best ways to promote your business and engage customers, especially in high-spending times like the run-up to Christmas.
How can social media help you increase sales? With Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and more, you can engage with your customers by staying top of mind and get them – and their friends – to check out your festive offerings.
It’s easy to get going – just try some of the 12 ideas below:
1. Use more than one network
Your customers and potential customers will be using social media this Christmas, but the chances are they don’t all favour the same network. Research from the GlobalWebIndex found that the average person is signed up to 5 social media accounts and actively uses 3 of these. Therefore at Christmas, make sure you’re using a range of social networks.
Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are currently the most popular in the UK but consider what might be useful or appropriate for your potential customers. Research has found that amongst young customers Instagram is hugely popular, while only 7% of over 50% use this platform. It may also be of interest that less young people are using Facebook, because their parents are on it!
2. Use seasonal cover photos
One simple but effective idea is to change your Facebook (and Twitter) cover photo to something festive at Christmas.
When choosing a Christmas cover image, think about using a seasonal photo that will connect with your audience. You can also upload holiday-themed photos to your other social media accounts. This not only spreads festive cheer, it also sends a signal to your customers that you are proactive and on-the-ball.
The images themselves can be anything from photos of your office Christmas decorations, to shots of your products taken in holiday settings. It’s the perfect time to get creative. For example, if you offer a dog grooming service, you could upload photos of your customers’ happy pooches in Christmas costumes. If you’re a florist, you might want to showcase some of your Christmas bouquets or seasonal plants.
3. Provide regular updates
Christmas is definitely a popular time for social media use, with everyone checking out photos of friends in their festive jumpers, house decorations and holiday parties. Make sure you take advantage of this uplift by providing regular updates and posts. Think about what will be useful or engaging to your potential customers. Promotions, seasonal opening times, return policies, and other useful information will all be useful but remember to pepper in some fun facts to keep it light and in the festive spirit.
Another great idea is to provide advice about Christmas-related topics. For example if you are a clothes shop, you could provide advice on what to wear to a Christmas party, or a wine shop could post ideas on what to have with your Christmas turkey.
4. Schedule a Christmas Day message
You may be tempted to think that Christmas Day is a day for giving your social media accounts a rest. However, with so many people receiving smartphones and gadgets, they’ll be logging onto social accounts to wish family and friends season’s greetings, and showing off their new gifts.
Sending out a ‘Merry Christmas’ message from your business is a good way to show customers you care. Don’t worry though; you won’t need to pull yourself away from the mulled wine and turkey because there are some great tools like Hootsuite and Buffer that allow you to schedule your posts in advance.
5. Give away gift cards
Christmas is traditionally a time for giving cards so why not take it a step further? Everyone loves a gift card, and social media is a fantastic place to promote gift card deals leading up to Christmas. For example, you could promote a deal that gives customers a £50 gift card for £40. This special offer can be promoted on your Facebook page and on Twitter with a link back to your website where the special promotion can be downloaded.
6. Run a fun, festive poll
Have you seen Twitter’s new feature that allows you to run a 24 hour poll? This is great chance to engage followers in your business at Christmas by using relevant topics. Keep it fun and festive by asking questions that are hotly debated this time of year such as ‘What is the best Christmas film? Home Alone or Elf?’ Post a link to your Twitter account on other social networks so you can get as many people involved as possible.
7. Hold a competition
Did you know that any business on Facebook can run a contest on its wall? This means that you can easily set up a Christmas contest to generate interest in your business, while at the same time capturing customer information for future campaigns.
Your contest doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as asking your followers to post photos of them in the worst Christmas jumper, or setting a trivia contest, where followers have to post answers to your questions. You could even host a Christmas daily prize draw, such as ‘The 12 Days of Christmas,’ to encourage followers to visit your Facebook page every day.
8. Create gift boards on Pinterest
If you run a business like a shop, nail salon or bakery, you can create gift idea boards on Pinterest with gifts from all around the web and a few of your own products thrown into the mix. Add Pin It buttons to product pages on your site and feature ‘most pinned items’ on your home page.
9. Use festive-related hashtags
Twitter and Instagram are where shoppers discover and research products. Last year there were over 282 million tweets from around the world about Christmas shopping. According to Twitter, 52% of users tweet about their Christmas purchases, and 69% are likely to purchase something from a small business that they follow on Twitter.
So, on your business Twitter and Instagram feeds, be sure to use appropriate hashtags, like #Wishlist and #Christmas2016, with your posts to help drive these shoppers who are using Twitter for research to you.
10. Respond to mentions
Social media is quickly becoming the go-to tool for customers when asking a business a question or to vent their frustrations. Therefore, it’s important that you monitor your social media and use it as a customer service tool this Christmas. Try to respond promptly and professionally to any enquiries or complaints, customers don’t like to wait or feel like they’re being ignored.
11. Carry it into the New Year
Once Christmas has been and gone don’t just leave your social media accounts to gather dust. Take this momentum you’ve created during the festive period through to the New Year. Keep conversations going and posts regular.
Think about other events throughout the year that you can adapt these tips for. Maybe your business lends itself well to Valentine’s Day gifts or services, or you could give your social media a makeover for Easter. Social media isn’t just a one-time thing; make it an ongoing and continuous tool you use in your online marketing.
12. Have fun!
Although it’s a great time for boosting your sales, remember to include a mix of fun engaging posts and not just sales promotions or customers will be quickly be put off. Get in the festive spirit and spread some Christmas cheer. It’s a time for having fun so embrace it with your social media.
So there you have it, our top tips for making the most of social media this Christmas. Don’t wait to get started – with customers relying more and more on social media for recommendations and advice, you can’t afford not to ‘go social’.
PLAN NOW and Get Going.
I think one of the biggest things I’ve learned is that small businesses who flourish and make the most of the seasonal opportunities that present themselves are the ones who get a plan and a structure in place as opposed to doing something when they feel like it. A great example would be British Gas during the winter of 2015/2016. It was one of the mildest winters going for sometime, but their adverts for boiler repair were on constantly. Then when we did get two weeks of ice cold weather, guess what? The calls for the boiler repair went through the roof! Why? They had continually reminded the public of the service they provided even when things were quiet and people didn’t need it at that point.
So it’s now less than 99 days till Christmas…you’d best get going!