Marketing Blog | Addison Clark | Richmond, VA

With the holidays coming up, internet sales are going to increase dramatically. As people search for the perfect gift for their friends and family, this is the perfect time to take advantage of all of this consumer excitement. Promoting your business towards the end of the year can help you meet those sales goals that you may have missed in months past. Offering holiday specials are one way to drive more customers in, but social media can give you the boost to let more potential customers know about your product in a quicker fashion.

You want your business's name to stick in consumer's minds, and one way to do that is to frequently update your Facebook and Twitter accounts. For instance, many companies might offer special deals to those who "like" their Facebook page, or for those who comment on a specific status. Being creative and flexible with your strategy will set you apart from the rest; staying in contact with your customer's will enable you to create relationships that will last long after the holiday season. Make sure to keep your client's informed about new products and special discounts, and you are bound to make an impression on them that will drive them back to your business. Check out these tips from Sam Cannon of the E-commerce Times. (Click here to see the full article).

1. Use Location-Based Apps

Brands that are already active on Twitter and Facebook will have the most success leveraging social campaigns over the holidays due to their built-in fan base and followers, but brand marketers should not overlook the opportunities that exist within location-based applications such as Foursquare, Gowalla and even Facebook's new "Deals" feature.

Many retailers are already generating revenue by posting daily offers that can be redeemed locally. Adding location-based promotions is an effective way to drive in-store traffic and creates another touch point for consumer engagement.

2. Give the 'Wish List' a Makeover

Finding that perfect gift for someone can be a challenge, and shoppers oftentimes will turn to gift cards as a last resort. As an alternative, consider a new twist on the "wish list" feature on most leading e-commerce sites.

The first step is to make the experience of building the wish list more engaging for the user. For example, instead of calling it a wish list, get creative. If your target audience is made up of music fans, launch a poster or album cover creator -- something that will resonate with consumers and be seen as less of a chore to assemble.

The most important element here, however, is making the wish list easy to share across Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites. Enable individual items to be shared with Facebook friends for feedback or one-off "wishes."

3. Create Custom Shopping Experiences Online

Some of the most effective retail marketing campaigns are those that create truly personal connections with consumers. Great examples are those digital experiences that enable shoppers to try things on virtually -- clothes, hairstyles, makeup -- making the consumer part of the brand.

In order to maximize these experiences, take them a couple steps further. After a consumer interacts with the promotion, give them the tools they need to easily share their experience with friends in their social networks so they can join the fun too. Don't forget an enticing follow-up offer to seal the deal -- a promotional code, coupon or other offer that will turn these branded experiences into sales.

4. Use Social Media Channels to Promote Time-Sensitive Deals

Retailers have been extremely successful using social media to broadcast time-sensitive deals as a way to reward their loyal customer base.

Post-holiday, these deal feeds are a great way to clear out the inevitable stack of returned merchandise. So, consider using your brand's Twitter feed (or creating a new one) as an auction mechanism for the post-holiday returns.

5. Be as Clear as Holiday Crystal

It goes without saying that retailers should try to make the holiday shopping experience as stress-free as possible. So when using social media channels to communicate with your customers, be sure to clearly articulate the value.

Be clear about what role each of your social community efforts is supposed to play -- both internally and with your fans and followers. If it's to answer gift questions, then do that only. If there is another effort to address availability of gifts, make sure your team understands that.

Anticipate that if you create the impression or expectation that your social environment can help with holiday shopping, then customer expectations for you to deliver on that promise will likely be higher than at almost any other time of the year.

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