There are just over two weeks until Christmas – enough time for a major social media marketing push before fulfilling the last batch of online orders or welcoming last minute holiday shoppers into your brick-and-mortar establishment.
If your company was forward-thinking, it probably designed a holiday marketing strategy shortly after – or even sometime before – Halloween. You may have even had an opportunity to adjust elements of that strategy as consumers counted down the number of shopping days left. The time for meaningful changes is now past for most of those elements, but social media marketing stands out as an exception. It represents a unique opportunity to adjust your brand messages in real time as circumstances change for your company, your customer base, and the market in general.
High Demand, Sensitive Supply
That feature of social media marketing is worth celebrating and utilizing at all times, but it becomes especially important in high-pressure situations such as the push for rapid turnaround during the holiday shopping season. Those situations can result in rapid inventory loss on the supply side, as well as sudden spikes in demand for certain specific items or categories of merchandise. Social media marketing allows for companies to keep their followers up to date about what is available, and to actively push items needs to move or believes will get a strong short-term response.
Social media platforms are the ideal venue for advertising flash sales, and this practice can be applied to brick-and-mortar retailers almost as easily as ecommerce sites. New posts can link to coupons that are automatically applied at checkout or can be presented at the point of purchase. The offers can be scaled to take advantage of people’s greater willingness to spend in the final days of the holiday season, as by offering tiered discounts or special rewards based on the total amount spent.
Of course, many retailers don’t even need to offer those kinds of incentives during the holidays. Instead, they can count on consumers to be intrinsically motivated and then rely on their communication platforms to help those consumers direct their motivation in the right directions. Social media marketing promises to fill that role even more effectively now that holiday shopping coincides with lingering concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
Browse Online, Buy Anywhere
Research indicates that this year more than any other, consumers prefer to do at least a portion of their holiday shopping online. In surveys, two-thirds of shoppers have expressed that preference, and it stands to reason that even among those who prefer in-person shopping, there will be many who purchase some items online anyway, and others who integrate online browsing into their in-person shopping experiences.
With effective social media marketing, a company that makes sales both in-person and online can take advantage of all these different ways of shopping for the holidays. For each type of consumer, online content has the potential to stand in for tactile browsing so that everyone is satisfied, whether they are trying to recapture the experience of holiday shopping prior to the internet, or lean all the way into modern ways of doing business.
If a company’s social media marketing includes professional-quality photo and video content, then consumers may find themselves feeling almost as if they are holding items in their hands when they view posts about specific inventory. But to achieve that outcome, it’s often necessary for social media marketing to be part of a broadly integrated strategy, featuring professional assistance that runs the gamut from photography and content creation to social media management and search optimization.
Marketing Lessons to Last the Year
If a company didn’t already have that kind of a team in place – either in-house or at a third-party social media marketing company – it was most likely at a disadvantage going into the holiday season. Then again, even with only two weeks left, such a team can still help a floundering company to capture a share of the holiday market. In fact, the high stakes of that situation could lead to the social media marketing team acquiring a huge amount of data related to the new client company, all in a short period of time. In that case, the holiday shopping season might even kick-start a data-driven digital marketing strategy that will last all through the year.
Even if a company’s marketing strategy is already well established, it can still benefit from an influx of data related to holiday shopping expenditures and social media engagement. Efforts to market a large quantity of merchandise in a short period of time may allow social media marketing professionals to experiment with various types of content, various methods of engagement, and even various social media partnerships. Then, once the hustle and bustle is over, a skilled team of data analysts can debrief marketers and website owners about what worked, what didn’t, and what is worth trying again under different circumstances.
For some retailers, there may be other occasions throughout the year when a surge of product interest and online engagement can be expected. For them, the holiday season may serve as a template for how to assess and refine digital marketing strategies within a narrow window, in hopes of doing so repeatedly. In any case, the more a company’s social media marketing team runs through this process on a compressed timeline, the better they’re liable to get at identifying and analyzing relevant data during normal operations.
With this in mind, any retailer who reads this post should feel motivated to make a social media marketing push as they go into the final days of the holiday season. This advice applies even to retailers who didn’t design a proper holiday marketing strategy ahead of time. The last-minute push may not yield high-volume sales, but that isn’t the immediate goal of social media marketing anyway. The important thing is that the end of the year brings an end to any sense of lagging behind on one’s marketing strategy, thus setting the stage for higher engagement and a closer attention to data as the New Year dawns.