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Although October is all about football season, it’s important to keep your head in the holiday game. There’s no better time than now to get your social strategy ready for the gift-buying rush. After all, we’ve seen an 87% increase in the share of orders placed through social media over the last two years.

 

In our Connected Shopper Report, we also found that about half of millennial shoppers tap social channels to buy products online, with 41% saying they use those platforms to research products. And we expect Instagram to lead the way by driving a 51% year-over-year increase in traffic to retail sites.

 

Shoppers want brands to be just as social as they are — whether to help address issues or find the perfect gifts. What makes social such a powerful tool for brands during the holiday season is that it helps brands get closer to customers by meeting them along the purchase journey, wherever they are and whenever they need you to be there. So, this holiday season, be sure to use social as your ultimate marketing, commerce, and service channel.

 

Ready to get started? Here are four tips to inform your holiday social strategy:

1. Staff social media channels 24/7

 

Why? Because it’s the key to delivering stellar customer service. One-in-five shoppers say they turn to social media channels to request customer service from online retailers while 67% say they prefer support on social channels over phone calls. A missed customer tweet or Facebook post could mean a missed sale — not to mention, consumers aren’t shy about sharing a subpar experience on their own social channels. So, make sure you’ve staffed up your customer service adequately, especially during times when key digital campaigns launch.

 

2. Double down on video

 

Social media is increasingly video- and visual-centric, with platforms like Instagram and Snapchat leading the way. Keeping this trend in mind, it’s important to create a strategy that uses visual-meets-social tactics to drive more traffic to your website during the busy holiday shopping season. Consider unboxing videos —  known to rack up hundreds of millions of YouTube views — or take pics of your holiday decorations as they go up to build added seasonal excitement.

 

3. Use tools to recognize and classify imagery

 

Three billion images are loaded onto social channels daily. Marketers now have the ability to understand and respond to brand-relevant imagery using products such as Einstein Vision. You can even train Social Studio to classify images that relate to your brand — like logos, products, or brand scenes. Get this up and running before the holiday season so you don’t miss key opportunities to join the conversation and deliver a superior experience for your shoppers.

 

4. Use social to build loyalty that closes sales

 

Offering exclusive holiday offers to your social followers is a great tactic for driving loyalty and boosting sales. Give them early access to holiday promotions, sneak peeks into new collaboration projects, and more. Also, be sure to create holiday-inspired hashtags to help them easily discover your brand and products. Another great way to keep your brand top-of-mind is to resurface abandoned shopping cart items through social remarketing ads on Facebook or Instagram. The shopping cart often serves as a wishlist, so use this opportunity to remind shoppers what they left behind.

 

But wait, there’s more!

 

Here are a few of our monthly imperatives to get your holiday planning moving in the right direction:  

  • Launch holiday gift guides. Target guides to give shoppers ideas about what to get their favorite teacher or family member. Update them regularly to keep shoppers interested.

  • Ramp up training for staff. Black Friday will be here before you know it! Be sure your store associates and service agents are prepared to offer customers ways to deepen digital engagement. You’ll score valuable data that you can use in future marketing campaigns.

  • Turn wait times into engagement opportunities. Be ready to take advantage of heavy in-store traffic by posting email opt-in signage around the store with an on-the-spot CTA like, “Text LOYALTY to 12345 to get an extra 20% off.”  

  • Pressure-test SEO terms. Review your top 50 search terms for both voice and text. Now is the time to make sure your brand surfaces as holiday shoppers begin their search for the perfect bargain or gift.

     

Get social with your marketing efforts like never before with the help of our Holiday Readiness Guide, which includes  our month-by-month to-do list. And don’t forget to bookmark our Holiday Insights hub for the latest tips and tricks on how you can make the most of this year’s holiday season.