By Paula Drum, General Manager of Gettington.com
The countdown to Christmas is officially on. For retailers, the holiday season is the equivalent to the playoffs. We’ve been working to get to this point all year, and we need to be at the top of our game to attract customers. Now that retailers are familiar with social media, it’s time to align holiday strategies with the communities we’ve been cultivating since last year. If 2009 was the year to jump into social, 2010 is the time to maximize social media interactions on Facebook and Twitter to help drive holiday sales.
Before getting into different strategies for customer interaction, it is important to note that having a successful social presence takes man-hours. It is extremely difficult, arguably impossible, to create a meaningful presence in social media by treating the medium as a second-tier initiative. With time and budgets currently at a premium, think of creating a small internal team dedicated to managing social efforts in shifts — the caveat being that all team members need to understand overall messaging and goals for the company’s social program prior to sending out their first tweet or status update. This approach is akin to increasing holiday staff in warehousing and brick and mortar locations. While all members of your social team may not be dedicated year round, having more bodies will increase your company’s opportunities to connect with customers.
After your team understands goals and responsibilities, it’s time to hit the Web running. Since most retailers and customers have embraced Facebook and Twitter as their social networks of choice, we’ll examine ideas to increase activity on these platforms.
The ‘Status’ on Facebook
We all know by now that Facebook is the largest social network; customers want to “like” their favorite brands, but the interaction should not end with the click of a button. A brand can have all of the “likes” on Facebook, but what’s the value of a fan just sitting there? Retailers need to engage their fanbase by deciding what/how they want fans to participate. That could be as simple as posing questions or as elaborate as hosting a contest. Real value for companies is when fans are doing something for you outside of being just another follower.
A quick Google search will confirm that the number of studies on how to engage with Facebook fans is expansive as the day is long, but a recent study from Virtue provided hints for effective updates:
- Posts with images get clicked on 22% more often than video posts, and 54 percent more often than text-only posts;
- Posts published before noon get clicked on 65% more often than those published later;
- Posts published on Friday do best; weekends are the worst.
When you consider how you want to update and interact with your fans, remember to include your overall business goals in your social strategy. Make sure to highlight the products and deals that you plan on emphasizing over the next few months in your posts. Most importantly, keep a consistent drumbeat of updates (generally one a day), and remember to have your social admins display their human side. Yes customers want to interact with brands, but they do not want to speak with brand-bots, so HAVE FUN!
Maintain Buzz on Twitter
Unlike Facebook, where you have to convince people to come to your organization’s page, Twitter provides the best opportunity to find the people that are talking about any aspect of your business or even your company specifically. Finding conversations is as easy as conducting a Twitter Search or setting up a Twitter keyword search on any one of these free search tools. Current buzz around Twitter is an upcoming analytics tool release scheduled for Q4 2010 that will help users find influencers and trending topics on the fly.
Twitter is great for announcing deals, coupons and specials, but personality will really make you stand out. Leading up to the holidays, you should ask the Twittersphere about their plans, what items they’re looking to purchase or even inquire to hear their stories from holidays past — in addition to talking about what your organization is offering. If you need examples, The Wall Street Journal recently extolled the works of several fashion brand Twitter admins that are doing an excellent job pushing their brands with personality — most notably Erika Bearman of Oscar de la Renta (@OscarPRGirl).
A big way to garner attention in 140 characters or less is by hosting giveaways. My company, Gettington.com, did this during August’s BlogHer conference and had a lot of success in generating discussion and activity on Twitter through giveaways. It’s as easy as asking users to tweet about the contest to be eligible; the key is to keep these people engaged after the giveaway buzz dies down. Having Twitter admins that can show personality — talk pop culture, upcoming events, life in general, etc. — and can master your messaging, goes a long way to continuing momentum coming out of a giveaway.
You’ve worked hard all year to ramp up for the holidays, so avoid the naughty list and make sure to complement your marketing strategy by incorporating social media and dedicating time to interact with your fans on Facebook and Twitter this holiday season.
Paula Drum is general manager of Gettington.com, an e-tailer that provides three payment options to help customers budget purchases that fit their individual financial needs. Reach Paula at Paula.Drum@bluestembrands.com.