I grew up watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade each year as my Mom set about preparing our dinner. I looked forward to watching the bright and fun festivities. This year, my family will be flying to the east coast to attend the parade in person. The six-year-old in me is super excited, while my adult self is thinking, is it really that time of year already?
As marketers, we should plan our holiday campaigns far before those big balloons make their way down Broadway. It’s becoming second nature for consumers to turn to social media to find promotions, comparison shop and find gift ideas during the holiday season. Facebook holiday shopping trends indicate:
● Social networking sites experienced a 17% increase in unique visitors during holiday 2010
● Social visitors to a retail site are twice as likely to convert as the average visitor
● 20% of survey respondents said Facebook was “influential” or “extremely influential” when making purchase decisions
A prime case is my sister’s recent Facebook post:
My sister wants to buy her nearly two-year-old daughter a special baby doll for Christmas. Even after doing research, she is unsure of which doll to purchase, so she extended the question to her friends on her blog and Facebook. This is an ideal example of how social media has the opportunity to influence her decision before she buys – and illustrates the many roles it can play in the buying decision process:
● Need recognition – Tysha may have decided long ago that she wanted to buy a baby doll, but it’s quite possible she recognized the need from a Wall Post (from the brand or a friend’s post or album), Facebook Ad, blog post from a mommy blogger, photo on Pinterest, newsletter from the company or maybe in a store window. Now that she’s blogged about it and shared it with her friends on Facebook, another young mom may have become aware of the need to buy a Christmas gift in the form of a doll.
● Information Search – Tysha, being a natural researcher, has probably scoured the web to find information from websites, review sites and social networking sites related to baby dolls. Tweets, blog posts and Facebook pages are sources of information consumers look to when researching products.
● Evaluation of Alternatives– In this example, Tysha is weighing the alternatives but making the decision social by asking her blog readers and friends and family on Facebook for their input. Here you can see that social media plays a critical role in her actual purchase decision.
● Purchase – Knowing Tysha, she may announce right away what doll she’s purchased, but she’ll definitely thank everyone for their input and share what doll she decided on (which may also make it easier for her friends to decide which doll to purchase too if the need arises).
● Post-Purchase – Tysha’s pretty active online with her blog so she’ll probably take pictures of when her daughter opens the present and share those photos on her blog and on Facebook too. She may even share them on the doll company’s page or write reviews on the doll. Or she may simply read another couple of reviews or blog posts about the doll she chose to reinforce the decision she made. If the brand is smart, she’ll be compelled to engage on their Facebook page and stay engaged for when the next holiday rolls around and Tysha needs another gift for her daughter.
When you begin to plan your holiday campaign, the first thing to think about is timing. This question above was posted in mid-October, as my sister wants to finish her holiday shopping by December 1. Obviously, not everyone is such an early bird, however it is important to be mindful of key dates when planning your holiday promotions. Below is a chart based on CPC trends from 2010 to guide you in your planning as suggested by Facebook.
Consumers are scouring the web for deals, gift ideas and suggestions. Here are a few tips from Facebook to meet your marketing objectives. Remember that content is key as you plan the creative components of your campaign and the News Feed remains at the heart of a successful presence on Facebook.
Objective 1: Increase traffic and sales
Create viral holiday promotional events and publicize special offers. Every time fans RSVP, click, or check-in, that action gets shared with all of their friends.
● Decide on a sales goal and the promotional activities that will help you get there
● Offer valuable check-in deals to increase foot traffic (promote the deal with ads before it goes live)
● Spread the word about your promotion through Standard Like Ads, Sponsored Stories and Page publishing
Objective 2: Generate Awareness
You can leverage Facebook’s tremendous reach and targeting capabilities with ads and Sponsored Stories to generate awareness about your promotions.
● Integrate Social Plugins such as the Like Button into your website, which will allow actions people take off of Facebook to show up in the News Feed and be amplified through Sponsored Stories
● Post interesting content to your Page with clear calls to action that encourage fan interaction and sharing
● Boost stories about friends who have engaged with your business
Objective 3: Drive Differentiation
Think of your Facebook Page as a key customer touch point to bring your brand to life. Drive differentiation by creating highly customized and personalized experiences for fans.
● Use the graph API to enable people to shop based on what their friends like
● Use Applications to bring your brand to life (Ex: create a wish list app for fans to select their favorite items and share with their friends)
● Build an eCommerce store through an app on your Facebook Page so users don’t have to leave Facebook to make a purchase
Objective 4: Build loyalty and deepen relationships
The people who like your page are saying they want a relationship with you. Show them you appreciate their loyalty with special rewards.
● Listen and respond to customer feedback and inquiries to show fans that they can trust and rely on your business
● Provide exclusive holiday promotions, merchandise sneak peeks and early access to Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales for fans
Facebook Advertising: Holiday Best Practices
● Utilize event ads to generate awareness around holiday sale events
● Run App Shared and App Used Sponsored Stories to boost stories about friends who have interacted with your holiday application
● Run Standard Like Ads to drive traffic to specific promotions or alert fans of upcoming check-in deals
● Use Page Post Ads to enhance distribution of Page posts that mention special offers and promotions
● Incorporate words such as free, discount and promotions whenever applicable
● Include a strong call to action that incentivizes fans to share their interactions with your brand to all their friends
● Include Facebook specific discount codes to give users a sense of exclusivity
● Identify promotional periods and emphasize end dates on special offers
● Expand your targeting parameters over the holidays to include those making purchases for your target audience
● Get more impressions and potentially more clicks by utilizing broad age match targeting and broad category targeting
● Due to increased competition, expect CPCs to increase during the holiday season
● Monitor bids closely to ensure that bids are still competitive enough to win the auction
● Bid what you’re comfortable paying for your ads
A big thank you to Facebook for providing all of these holiday marketing tips. At publishing time, my sister is leaning toward the American Girl doll for her daughter. Her Facebook friends let her know that they had just opened a big American Girl store in Seattle, so she is already thinking about the great memories to be made there. She invited me to come have lunch with my niece and her new doll at the American Girl bistro.
May you all be so successful in making your brand part of someone’s story.
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*This post is based on Facebook’s 2011 Holiday Kit