So You Want To Create a Holiday Gift Guide for Your Brand?

It’s official: the holidays are coming. Now that election season is over (insert enormous sigh of relief here), we can focus our sights on the holiday celebrations to come. As social media marketing professionals, we are in the throws of planning holiday campaigns and giveaways, brainstorming holiday-centric content, and putting together holiday gift guides.

We’ve all seen holiday gift guides in magazines for years. The concept it simple: showcase various gift ideas that might help consumers purchase gifts for their family and friends. It’s as if the brand was a person and she wants to help you with your holiday shopping. Just like many marketing ideas that originated in print, the holiday gift guide made a smooth transition to the online realm. You will notice that many magazines have interactive holiday gift guides on their websites and other brands have followed suit.

At Sociality Squared, we strongly encourage brands to create online holiday gift guides for the reasons listed below:

  1. A holiday gift guide allows you to acknowledge the holidays without getting denominational. Brands are always looking for ways to get in on the joy of the holidays without excluding anyone, and holiday gift guides are a great way to do that! You can create a list of items that appeal to all of your consumers, not just a few.
  1. A holiday gift guide gives you a platform to promote your partners. Brands almost always have partners, but it doesn’t always feel natural to promote them. The holiday gift guide allows you to showcase your partners’ products or services while still staying true to your brand. Not only will your partners appreciate being included, chances are they will share the gift guide on their social media channels, which will get more eyes on your gift guide and create more awareness of your brand! When including partner products in a gift guide, be sure to let them know by sending them an email with the link(s) to the guide and encourage them to share.
  1. A holiday gift guide allows your brand to showcase its personality. Each brand has a personality. Some brands are fun, some are quirky, some are serious, and some are a bit bizarre! Whatever your brand’s personality, a holiday gift guide is an easy way to get it across. If your brand is a tech company with a “14-year-old video gamer” personality, it can come across in your gift guide by including items that reflect that personality such as funny phone cases, the newest video games, books on being addicted to video gaming, and snarky t-shirts.
  1. A holiday gift guide is shareable. Unlike its predecessors in print, online holiday gift guides are easy to share. If a consumer discovers your brand’s gift guide, they can easily copy the link and text/email it to a friend, pin it to their Pinterest boards, or share it on social media. By creating something that is easily shareable, it allows for a larger audience to see it.

Now that you have decided to create a holiday gift guide for your brand, you’ll need to decide where to host it. Many brands post their holiday gift guide(s) on their website like this 2015 Holiday Gift Guide from the New York Times (one of our favorites) or this one from Real Simple Magazine. Hosting the gift guide on a brand’s website will increase website traffic and make it easy for consumers to find the actual products. Other brands use Pinterest for their holiday gift guides since it allows consumers to easily save/pin the items they like to their own Pinterest boards. Check out Self Magazine’s Pinterest Holiday Gift Guide and Country Living Magazine’s Pinterest Holiday Gift Guide for inspiration. A brand can also create a Facebook photo album to house their holiday gift guide if they don’t use Pinterest.

All of these are good options, and some brands might be able to do all three. But, if you need to host your holiday gift guide somewhere online and your brand’s website is not an option (or you want to host it somewhere else as well), we recommend Pinterest. Pinterest is a visual platform that lends itself to the holiday gift guide because it is easy to save items to your own personal account, it’s a social media platform and therefore easily shareable, and it’s easy for the user to find the actual items pinned to the gift guide (simply by clicking the image). The downside to Pinterest is that in order to view the gift guide, your followers/consumers will have to login to their Pinterest accounts to access it. This can be frustrating for those of your fans who do not have Pinterest accounts. Two solutions we have found here at Sociality Squared to minimize this frustration is to use this as an opportunity to promote your brand’s Pinterest account (“Follow us on Pinterest to check out our holiday gift guide!”) or to also host the gift guide on Facebook in a photo album. The Facebook album will not be as user-friendly, but it allows the gift guide to be viewed by more of your followers.

Tips to Create a Holiday Gift Guide

As to what to include in your gift guide, a good holiday gift guide has items that speak to the brand without being too literal. If the brand itself sells a product, it should be included, but not the only thing on the list. For example, if your brand sells glass water bottles, you should include a few of your best-selling items, but the list should not look like an inventory list of all the water bottles your brand sells. If your brand does not sell a product, you’ll have to get creative and gear your list to your audience.

Follow this formula when creating a holiday gift guide:

  1. Include partners’ products/services if applicable.
  2. Choose a price range for the gift guide. We recommend keeping your audience in mind and include some high-ticket items, mid-range items, and inexpensive “stocking stuffer” items as well.
  3. Think of items your audience would like, but also get creative. If your audience is female, don’t forget to include items for the men in their lives!
  4. Think non-denominational as far as holiday gifts. If your audience is diverse, your gift guide should be too. If you do include items that speak to one particular holiday, be sure to even the playing field by offering items centered around other holidays as well.
  5. Look to other gift guides for inspiration. As mentioned above, we at Sociality Squared love the New York Times gift guide, but it’s also a good idea to look at your brand’s competitors for inspiration. If using Pinterest, you can also see what your followers are pinning to their own boards and get ideas there.
  6. Each item you include in your holiday gift guide should include a description (with applicable keywords and hashtags) as well as a link to the item. Try to link to the item sold by the manufacturer (for example, link to the Apple website if including an iPhone in your gift guide rather than linking to the Verizon store) instead of linking to a store that happens to sell the item. The exception would be Amazon.com as it is a great place to find almost anything (especially books) and many people use it.

Once your gift guide is live, be sure to share it! Share it from your brand’s social channels, website, newsletter, blog, and anywhere else your audience might see it. After all, the purpose of the gift guide is for people to see it and use it.

Do you have any favorite holiday gift guides that we haven’t included here? How about any tips on creating the perfect holiday gift guide? Feel free to share them below!

 

 

Mari Smith

Mari Smith

After receiving her BS from UT Knoxville in Journalism & Videography, Mari became a chef via the Rel Maples Institute of Culinary Arts. Before joining S2 in February 2011, she worked as a writer, food critic, video-blogger, and production assistant. Her favorite thing about working in social media is experimenting with creativity while not being constricted by the permanency of other marketing forms. When she’s not parked in front of her Macbook, she enjoys cooking, spending time with her family, and exploring Chattanooga, TN.