The start of October marks colder days, darker nights and overloading any hot drink you can with pumpkin spiced syrup. But it’s also the time of year that marketers can feel that looming sense of dread, as Q4 brings with it the beginning of some of the busiest holidays in the calendar.
Despite the many holidays and events that pop up each year, Christmas is arguably the most hectic by far. It’s also a time where consumers will spend a lot of money, with Brits spending £79.7 billion on Christmas in 2020 and Americans spending $789.4 billion. Both of these monetary figures were actually a decrease in comparison to 2019, due to the Covid pandemic, however with a sense of normality back again this festive season, we are expecting to see things rise again for 2021. This spending spree can start as early as mid-November as well so if you’ve got Thanksgiving and Black Friday on your agenda for brand awareness, brace yourselves for an influx in the need for hashtags and creative assets. It isn’t just Christmas that gets everyone flapping at this time of year though and the months of October, November and December can get hectic really quickly. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Bonfire Night, Hanukkah, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Diwali, Boxing Day, New Year - the list is endless. Consider this along with any other relevant awareness days and internal communications and you have a very busy marketing calendar. Even if your brand only wants to focus on one or two of the main events, there’s still likely to be so much noise around these calendar highlights that a plan of action, in some form, is absolutely necessary.
Marketers plan for key commercial dates such as Halloween and Christmas for months. If you speak to PR and marketing departments worldwide they’ll likely tell you that Christmas campaigns are often planned in July or earlier, way before we’ve even thought about getting the tree out of the loft. But if you’re approaching that marketing planning a little later in the game, it’s not too late. Especially when you have good old social media to hand.
Getting Your Holiday Marketing Right With Social Media and Influencer Marketing:
Why social media is your best friend for holiday marketing
When it comes to holiday marketing, brands have to go all out. That doesn’t mean you necessarily have to have a central billboard in Times Square, but it does mean that you need to be strategic with what you are going to do and say.
With more and more brands finally recognising the importance of communicating their presence to the world, noise and competition has increased worldwide. It’s not enough to just pop up a Facebook post and hope you’ll get a few likes and the odd comment - there needs to be some thought and some reason to every piece of activity you do, regardless of how much activity you’re planning to do. It’s this way that you’ll see the best ROI and engagement from your audience.
So whether you’ve been planning that campaign for months on end or you’re looking at the holiday decorations going up and you’ve set to schedule a ‘Merry Christmas’ Tweet, social media could be that saving grace when it comes to highlighting what your brand is doing to celebrate the festivities.
Let’s look at gaming specifically for a moment. The gaming industry has grown phenomenally over recent years and was valued at $173.7 billion in 2020, a figure we can only imagine will increase with the new technology and improvements to gameplay that we are seeing. Consumer habits around gaming have also changed and we’re seeing people actually watching gaming streams even if they aren’t playing themselves, making the likes of Facebook Gaming, Twitch and YouTube very popular.
Predominantly focused on gaming fans to consume content, Twitch has 140 million monthly active users. With this many eyes on a platform it’s natural for brands to consider how they can promote their products and recent research for Twitch unveiled that 82% of people said that they trust social media and influencers to guide purchasing decisions. This demonstrates a huge advantage to choosing social media and influencers for product promotion. Alongside this, Newzoo also reported that more than 50% of shopping related searches happen on mobile in Q4 annually and with the majority of the world using mobile devices to access social media, it’s definitely worth considering if you’re offering the best mobile-friendly experiences for your audience.
But it isn’t just the gaming industry that achieves success on social media when it comes to purchasing habits. According to HubSpot, 71% of shoppers are more likely to purchase based on social media referrals. With this in mind, can we really afford to ignore the power that social media has on influencing sales, especially at a time where markets are worth billions of dollars?
Don’t forget influencers as well
A given when accessing any social media platform is that you are likely to stumble across an influencer or two. Social media is the main stomping ground for influencers and the sheer amount of excellent content creators you can access can improve campaigns ten-fold. It’s that reason that social media and influencers go hand-in-hand when it comes to holiday marketing - it just makes sense.
Alongside bringing your product or service to life beyond static advertisements or that photoshoot you got five years ago, influencers bring with them a whole audience of untapped potential. When you choose an influencer that is relevant to your brand and to your target audience overall, you have the opportunity to promote your offering further than before. This all happens on social media too - consumers can now even purchase items without leaving apps like Facebook and Instagram. How’s that for convenience?
It isn’t just about Christmas either
Yes we’ve mentioned Q4 holiday events mostly up until this point, but there are other holidays throughout the year that can prove fruitful. When it comes to Christmas, the hype around everyone pushing their products and services is overwhelming. Everyone is getting on that bandwagon and rightly so, we’ve already highlighted why we should be getting involved in the festivities. But what about holidays that aren’t as ‘noisy’?
Look at days like Star Wars Day on 4 May, National Dog Day on 26 August and Pi Day on 14 March. Even dates that are company-specific such as the day your brand launched or the day you hit 10,000 followers on Instagram, these ‘smaller’ holidays are going to have less competition when it comes to being noticed.
It’s worth considering how you can actually get involved with these smaller holidays and understanding which ones are likely to resonate with your audience the most. Why not try special day-themed promotions? A flash sale isn’t going to give negative connotations such as low quality, which is what can happen when discounting products. Instead, people will look at the promotions as a result of marketing creativity and it can help to align your brand with further topics and causes, with the potential of opening up to new audiences.
Alongside thinking about how you can get involved with Star Wars-related memes or promotions on doggy merch, look at how you can do something more unique for company-specific dates. Fashion retailers are great at this, often sending out personalised special discounts to their customers on the anniversary of the day they made their first purchase or on their birthday. In addition to getting a potential sale from this type of direct marketing, there’s also the opportunity to increase brand loyalty and audience engagement. By creating personal experiences, you’re likely to find that customers will stick around for longer.
Creativity is key when it comes to holiday marketing and it’s necessary to ensure that your time and money is well spent. Don’t just do what everyone else is doing, think outside the box. Look at what your competitors are doing and do something better.
Maximising on holiday marketing is a great way to bulk out a yearly communications calendar and can provide regular opportunities for you to touch base, both to external customers but also to your internal teams as well. If you’re looking for some ideas on how you can make the most of holidays and events throughout the year, here’s some tips that'll help you to increase ROI and stand out from the crowd across social media and influencer marketing.
Get a plan in place
Planning ahead when it comes to holiday marketing is the first step to success. Yes, reactive marketing has its advantages and you can jump on the bandwagon of holiday events quickly where necessary, but you’ll find that if you plan ahead, you’re likely to see better results.
Social media moves incredibly quickly and trending topics can change by the minute. But if you know those topics are going to come up, you can get any copy and creative ready to be one of the first to post.
Consider pulling together a dated content calendar that specifically outlines holidays and key awareness dates for the whole year. It’s also worth doing your research here on any hashtags or @ handles that are often used so that you aren’t out of the loop with the most popular conversations. It can also mean that you’re able to diversify and offer your own creative hashtags to create a separate space for your brand.
Create a narrative
Storytelling is extremely powerful when it comes to brand communications - we’ve grown up reading stories and we’re familiar with their structure. When you start to create a narrative around a campaign you’ll likely get more engagement and people will want to come back for more thanks to FOMO.
Gymshark, for example, has done this really well in the past. The fitness apparel and accessories brand only has two sales per year - its birthday and Black Friday. So already in November there’s a hype in the air with customers waiting for those Black Friday deals to drop.
In 2020, Gymshark not only started its promotion and build up of its upcoming sales in early November, it also worked hard to build tension and suspense by leveraging key influencers and teasing when exactly the sale would be launching.
Ultimately, Gymshark built a narrative around this hype to keep people coming back for more and it helped to convert when discounts did go live. This was also a great demonstration to show how well the brand actually knows its fans and customers, peppering these key elements throughout the entire month.
Building a narrative and fuelling intrigue can definitely help to keep your existing customers entertained, but it could also prompt new customers to pop in and see what’s going on. Social media is a great tool to get that story started as it can be updated regularly and followed easily.
Think outside the box
We’re always told to think outside the box when it comes to marketing - it’s that rule that every marketer lives under. However, even when there are times where it may feel impossible to come up with a brand new idea that nobody has ever seen before, there are ways to keep things fresh. Bring in the influencers.
When you start to work with an influencer or content creator, you’re opening your brand up to a whole plethora of new ideas. Even within the same sector you have creators who are so unique, whether it’s their tone of voice (ToV) that differs or they have a completely new style of how they create content. The possibilities are truly endless - one minute you could be benefitting from a creative tutorial video on TikTok and the next it could be a selection of memes on Instagram. Take the time to really delve into the key influencers in your space, look at their content and consider how they are presenting it. Chances are it will be a unique take that you may never have seen before.
Oh and if you’re struggling to figure out where to get started with influencer marketing, don’t panic. We wrote a separate piece on how to choose the right influencer for your next campaign so that you can ensure you’re getting maximum results.
In conclusion, holiday marketing may feel overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be something to fear. By taking steps such as forward planning, understanding what other brands are doing and striving to create something a bit different, you can ensure your campaign can stand out even against the busiest times for social media.