The holidays are upon us, and while 2020 has brought many changes to the way we live our lives, retailers and consumers alike are still eagerly looking forward to this traditional shopping season. Parties and gatherings may be smaller, but consumers are looking to make this season feel more festive than ever before, and they’re asking for brands to help them get there.

It’s difficult to know what exactly the season will hold, but many analysts are expecting modest growth this quarter. They expect to see revenue increases of anywhere from 1-3.5% (Retail Dive). With so much at stake this season, it is critical that you develop a marketing plan that will allow you to capture as many holiday shoppers as possible. Get started with our top ways to use social media to drive action this holiday season.

1. Remind Followers About Alternatives to Shipping

If your brand hasn’t ramped up your holiday campaigns yet, right now is the time to start. Reports from all shipping carriers have reported that they expect longer delivery times to be the norm for the 2020 holiday season. This is partially because of pandemic related delays, but also because online sales are expected to grow between 25-35% between November and January – compared to 15% last year (Deloitte).

While there isn’t much that brands (especially smaller ones) can do about UPS, FedEx, and USPS shipping woes – they can incorporate ‘shopping early’ and other alternatives like curbside pickup into their holiday messaging.

Macy’s, for example, was making plans to stoke demand for holiday shopping over the summer – understanding early on that success in the 4th quarter would rely on “reducing pressure points on big volume days” (Retail Wire).

Photo source: Macy’s

Since then, Macy’s has used their organic Instagram (shown above) to remind customers of all of the ways they can shop Macy’s this holiday.

2. Use Price-Conscious and Relatable Messaging

Given the economic situation, it’s not surprising the consumers have become more price-conscious. According to research from Pinterest, about 40% of people are going to be celebrating on a budget this year. Because of this, brands need to adjust their campaigns to reflect the current environment.

Flexible payment options such have Afterpay have been increasing in popularity with both consumers and retailers. 45% of brands that offer some type of ‘buy now, pay later’ option at checkout report that it helps conversion (Fortune).

Source: Afterpay

Afterpay’s holiday campaigns focus on making gifting (especially the kind consumers can feel good about) accessible through their easy, interest-free payment plans. They remind consumers that, this year especially, the holidays offer a chance to support small businesses and vote with your wallet.

3. Recreate the Window Shopping Experience

According to research from Pinterest, consumers will miss the act of going to stores, malls, and holiday markets to do their shopping. Successful brands meet their customers where they are, and this year, where they are is at home.

Fashion and lifestyle brand Anthropologie tapped into the unique features of two different social platforms, Pinterest (shown above) and Instagram Stories, to catch those digital window shoppers and serve them curated and timely ‘gift guide’ content.

Image Source: Anthropologie Pinterest

To encourage even more social reach, they paired their gift guides with a ‘Win Your Wishlist’ Pinterest contest. To enter, customers need to create an Anthropologie branded board and fill it with repins from the brand.

4. Turn Window-Shoppers into Social Shoppers

Social platforms have gone above and beyond to make in-platform shopping a success. Just last month Instagram rolled out an update to the platform that replaced the ‘activity’ tab with a new shopping feature.

It’s clear from this update that Instagram is putting a focus on accelerating their shift towards e-commerce (possibly driven by some analysts’ predictions about the pandemic’s effect on the industry). But anytime there is a new or enhanced feature on the platform, brands would be smart to take note.

Shoe brand Nisolo created an Instagram storefront that takes social shopping one step further – and offers customers a digital catalog to browse through. As the platform notes: “With an immersive, digital storefront that includes shoppable content and curated collections, a shop is another way you can bring your brand story to life on Instagram.”

Source: Nisolo Instagram

Customers are taking note of these experience improvements. According to emarketer, 22% of people more interested in shopping via social media this year, while 23% of people are less interested in shopping in-store. To get started creating your own collections on Instagram, check out this guide.

5. Embrace ‘Micro-Celebrations’ in an On-Brand Way

By now we know that holiday celebrations aren’t going to look the same as they have in the past, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to celebrate. According to Pinterest, 7 in 10 users plan to celebrate smaller moments in addition to bigger ones. While normally holidays such as Friendsgiving might not pack enough purchasing punch – this year they provide another opportunity for brands to engage with their audience.

This year, hummus brand Sabra launched a Friendsgiving influencer campaign to roll out its limited edition ‘Thanksgiving Stuffing’ flavor. Sabra sent a gift (including the hummus, a branded sweatpants, and a turkey hat) to several partners that they worked with throughout the year.

Image Source: Sabra Instagram

Sabra is well known for its successful influencer marketing campaigns, but this campaign, in particular, feels well-suited to the times. Not only did it capitalize on a popular trend among their core audience, but the gift itself was appropriate to our downsized celebration this year.

6. Include Your Best Partners in Your Holiday Marketing Plans

It’s no secret that consumers prefer to buy from recommendations they trust, and increasingly, consumers include influencers as among those they look to most for purchasing decisions.

The rise of the pandemic brought a sharp increase in content consumption (Statista) – and influencers were well-positioned to become those trustworthy sources. Recent data found that about 80% of influencers reported higher engagement from their followers during the pandemic (Later), which is significant.

This year, Amazon partnered with influencers to show customers how they could use Amazon Prime to surprise and delight their loved ones. Youtuber Ingrid Nilsen shared a video with her followers that depicted the ‘doggy Christmas’ she created for her friend’s dog Hendricks. This video showed Ingrid unboxing holiday decor from her Amazon order while telling a story that pulled at viewers’ heartstrings. This creative influencer partnership gave viewers creative ideas to go the extra mile this season (made easier with Amazon, of course).

Image Source: Amazon YouTube

7. Incorporate Video to Replace the In-Person Shopping Experience

Since the start of the pandemic, video content has been prioritized by both platforms and consumers. Video content is easy to watch, entertaining, and offers something new for consumers on platforms like Instagram and TikTok.

With consumers finally interested in watching live and prerecorded video, platforms are now looking to build more video shopping opportunities that brands can capitalize on. Facebook and Instagram have both rolled out live shopping features to certain brands, allowing them to tag products from a catalog feed within their live video. While this exciting feature is not available to all brands yet, there are still a number of ways to use video to make shopping easier for customers this holiday season.

For example, Kohl’s partnered with ItsJudyTime to promote their Black Friday sales via Facebook Live. Judy went shopping with mother, and then they shared a live video where they shared everything they purchased. After going live, Judy posted the video to her page and tagged all of the products they featured. This not only helped to drive additional traffic to, but it also made it easy for viewers to find the items they too wanted to purchase. The video has earned nearly 200,000 views to date.

Image Source: Kohl’s Facebook

Capture Consumers on Social Media

While we don’t know exactly what this unprecedented holiday season will hold for brands, there is one thing we can count on: Consumers are spending more time than ever on social media. Make sure you are using the best features of these platforms to supercharge your holiday campaigns.

What plans do you have for your holiday campaigns? Tell us in the comments.

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