Social media’s role in holiday marketing

More and more consumers are using online platforms to grant their Christmas wishes. Are you ready to accommodate your customers’ needs? If not, here are a few tips.

Do you intensify your social media messaging during the holidays?

New data suggest one in every three holiday shoppers is affected by your online efforts.

Sprout Social looked at the inbound and outbound messaging of 15 brands across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Here’s are a few highlights:

  • This holiday season, 3,140 social media messages are expected to be sent to the average retail brand.

  • One-third of consumers say their gift buying is directly affected by social media engagement.

  • Thirty percent of people will post about a gift on social media.

Data suggest holiday-related shares, posts, messages and outreach will continue to climb in the coming years.

[RELATED: Attend the Big 5 social media boot camp, with presentations on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.]

From Sprout:

This is particularly important for retailers with large social audience. Since follower count often correlates with message volume, enterprise retailers can expect a record-breaking season on social.

Here’s insight for brand managers seeking to spread holiday cheer through social media:

What you should expect

Online customer inquiries are the modern equivalent of letters to Santa. Instead of elves, though, brand managers are responsible for sending helpful responses.

From Sprout:

An estimated 56 percent of social messages that retailers are expected to receive [around the holidays] will require action. That’s nearly a 15 percent increase in social messages that will warrant a response compared with last holiday season.

How should you handle the influx of messages cramming your inbox? Do not treat consumer inquiries as a collective intrusion on your brand. Move forward with each question, comment or concern as if you’re talking to the source face to face.

Here’s what Sprout advises:

[Brand managers] have a huge opportunity to capitalize on the conversation and provide memorable experiences their customers will respond to and share. Dividing your social marketing team’s resources and attention should be dependent on a combination of factors including your core consumer base, product and existing social media analytics.

How you should respond

When it comes to providing solutions for customers, brand managers must be careful in crafting responses. Data say consumers aren’t interested in seeing generic hashtags or messages that feel mass-produced. Instead, they want “relevant content.”

Here are survey results:

Sprout adds:

Managing, delegating and measuring inbound messages starts with engaging your community. Though company blog posts and memes like #ThrowbackThursday are great, our survey found that consumers want more than a generic Tweet this season–they’re looking for culturally relevant content.

Nearly 20 percent said they’re looking for more promotional messages from brands and almost 40 percent want a healthy dose of holiday cheer.

Now, pick a platform

Twitter is still consumers’ top choice for connecting with brand managers. From firing off questions and concerns to praising a retailer’s customer experience methods, consumers are relying overwhelmingly on tweets.

Why?

Response times are swifter and much more reliable on the micro-blogging platform, data show.

Here’s more, from Sprout:

There’s a significant difference in response rate between social [media] networks. On Twitter more than 20 percent of messages receive a response. On Facebook, that number drops to 13 percent.

The type of content shared across each network also varies. You can expect to see more conversations and replies on Twitter where there are 11 promotional Tweets per reply. On Facebook, retailers use the platform to distribute 22 promotional posts per every one reply.

To be efficient, make a list of likely questions and post a FAQ list on your website. Doing so will ensure you have a template to reference when you encounter repeat questions.

Work in advance to set Twitter or Facebook reminders of sales, hours of operation and shipping information to avoid repeating your responses to crunch-time questions.

Use the holiday season to work on your response rates, messaging patterns and overall social media strategy. If the survey’s 2017 prediction is accurate, you’ll be glad to have an effective holiday approach in place.

How do you prepare your social media teams for the holidays, Ragan readers?

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