Social media, like all parts of running a business, suffers when put off until the last minute. Unfortunately, with the time committed to writing blog posts, importing new products to your online store and perfecting your merchandising, it is tempting to let social media fall to the back burner — waiting until the week of, or even day of, to write your posts. But as a result, you may find yourself looking back at a disjointed holiday social presence not in line with the rest of your marketing efforts.
This holiday season, start your social media preparations early. With a social media content calendar, you can build out your posts weeks in advance. And in conjunction to your campaign calendar, you can feel confident that you are creating a consistent brand experience that builds true brand followers.
Before the preparation period passes, follow these steps to ensure your social presence stands up to the most important selling season for retailers.
[As a bonus, here are some top marketers we recommend that you follow in 2018.]
Schedule Posts in Advance
Blog posts are not the only writing you should be completing early. While your campaign calendar organizes the big picture of how your promotions and blog posts interact, create a separate social media content calendar to track your posts across all of your social media channels. Begin writing these posts as soon as you can. Not only will this save time later when the rush of the holiday season is upon you, but it will also give you time to have each social media post edited and approved by at least one other member of your communications team.
As you form your calendar, don’t be afraid to repurpose social posts across your various channels. Use September to perfect the content and voice of your posts, as well as plan optimal timing. The more you do now, the more you can focus your social media efforts on responding to customers once the holiday season is in full swing. Use native scheduling features on Facebook and third-party Twitter schedulers such as Buffer or Hootsuite to never miss a beat.
Prepare Your Visuals
Creating visual elements can be one of the most time-consuming tasks of running your company’s social media. As you populate your social media calendar, begin crafting the visuals as soon as possible. Save each of your files in folders by posting week, and name your final visuals accordingly. This will save you from the headache of searching through a desktop of illogically named screenshots later on.
Feature Your Products Strategically
As you build out your social media content, be strategic with the portion of posts you dedicate to featuring your products. Twitter suggests businesses follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of your tweets should focus on driving interactions with your followers, such as retweets, replies and favorites. Only 20% should link back to product features or special promotions.
When you do feature your products, follow photography best practices for merchandising your products online. Use high-quality photos to showcase your products in action whenever possible to inspire your audience. Many of the visuals you will need throughout the holiday season will be for your ads. Also, consider implementing a social media video strategy for the holidays.
Create a Consistent Experience
Coordinate your holiday branding across each of your social media platforms. Use the cover photos to illustrate your brand personality and showcase a few of your featured holiday products. Just like in your advertisements, choose photos that show your products in real-life settings to make it easier for customers to picture themselves with their potential purchase.
Set a Standard of Real-time Engagement
With early preparations out of the way and a completed social media calendar, you can spend the busiest part of the holiday season interacting with your customers. Use social media to ask your followers how they are celebrating the holiday season, relating each post back to your brand personality.
Customers will often use social media to contact you with customer service requests. Be quick to respond and thoughtful with each of your answers. In fact, 42% of social media users who contact a brand via social media expect a response within 60 minutes. Use each interaction with a customer as an opportunity for positive word-of-mouth marketing.
Tis the season of giving, even for retailers. Consider a charity or cause you can donate a percentage of your revenue to for a portion of the holiday season. Since nearly 90% of consumers say they would switch to a charitable brand given similar price and quality, it is likely worth it for your business. Once you pick a cause, look for opportunities to add a social spin to your efforts and encourage your followers to share your posts with special promotions.
In all, consider how you can use your social media platforms for something more during the holidays. Start early to give yourself the bandwidth to focus on customer engagement during the height of the selling season. By removing the barrier between you and your customers, you will improve their brand experience and encourage customer loyalty that lasts beyond the holiday rush.
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