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60 Social Media Marketing Tips for the Holiday Season

It’s mid-September, which means Christmas music will start playing in stores any day now.
This also means it’s time to start thinking of ways to incorporate the holiday season into your social media campaigns. Holidays are about connecting with people, sharing traditions, and building memories. It’s only natural that social media has become an integral part of the holiday season, even enhancing this time of year in some ways.
I’ve put together 60 ways to include the October through December holidays in your social media strategy.

All Season

1. Start early. Use your social profiles to build buzz leading up to holidays rather than just focusing on holidays as they are happening.
2. Design a seasonal branded image to match across all social networks and the company site.
Yogurt Mountain Halloween Yogurt Mountain Holidays
Yogurt Mountain changes its Facebook profile picture regularly to reflect the current season.
3. Create a seasonal Facebook photostrip or Twitter background to match the seasonal profile picture.
4. Many people are eager to talk about their holiday customs, so these topics should be worked into your content for the next few months. Ask fans about their favorite Halloween candy, their favorite Thanksgiving side dish, the best gift they got as a kid, etc.
5. Use social media with traditional marketing. If your company has printed advertising materials (brochures, fliers, newspaper ads, etc.), include your social media profile addresses everywhere your customers see your name (this goes for any time of year!).
6. Build a microsite. This site can house a hyper-focused campaign or act as a hub for tying together all of your social and overall marketing efforts during the holidays into one place.
7. Re-use your holiday microsite year after year.
8. Be sure to still post useful content on your social profiles this time of year and don’t just push your products or services. People are stressed and pressed for time during the holidays, making this a good time to be as helpful as possible with posts.
9. Offer advice on various holiday challenges, like gift-giving, shopping on a budget, entertaining, and traveling. Spread this content across various touch points, such as daily holiday tips on Twitter (using a branded hashtag), stream these tweets into a dedicated Facebook tab, and expand on these tips by creating tutorial videos for YouTube.

YouTube and Lowe’s teamed up to build a Holiday Solutions Center channel
10. Don’t know what advice to give? Poll fans about what their biggest challenges are during the holidays, then determine the areas where your company would be the most helpful.
11. Highlight your company culture. Share pictures of your company holiday parties, your staff dressing up for Halloween, or your participation in charitable events.
12. Make your content have longevity and optimize keywords with next year in mind. Use these keywords throughout your holiday social content.
13. It’s cliché, but people like to talk about the weather. Pay attention to the weather where your customers are located. For example, don’t post about how cold it is during December if you have a lot of fans in Florida (unless you see there actually is a cold front there).
14. Don’t forget to measure. Measure your baseline before starting your holiday campaigns, then measure weekly results thereafter to see the value of your holiday pushes.
15. As you measure, adjust your strategy. Try different things on your different social networks. This allows you to quickly determine what type of content your fans are responding to and switch gears accordingly rather than doing the same thing across all social networks and waiting until the end of the campaign to gauge content popularity.

Halloween

Because Halloween is a chance for people to be creative, whether they’re thinking of a costume or a pumpkin-carving idea, this is a great opportunity to collect user-generated content you can house on your social profiles or even feature on your site.
16. Pictures of babies in costumes. ‘Nuff said.
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Graco baby products hosted a simple but popular Halloween photo contest on Flickr.
17. Pets in costumes (notice a theme? anything cute in a costume = win).
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PetSmart held a pet Halloween photo contest within a tab on its Facebook page, with the winner appearing in a TV commercial.
18. Keeping up with the cute theme, ask followers what their best Halloween costume was as a child, and ask them to share a photo.
19. Have fans carve your company logo into pumpkins and upload photos to your Facebook page. Feature the best pumpkins in a permanent photo album on your page.
burton snowboards pumpkins
Burton Snowboard’s Facebook Pumpkin Shreddin Photo Album
20. Think your brand has nothing to do with Halloween? Make a funny video tutorial on how to turn one of your products into a Halloween costume. The more over-the-top, the better.
21. Create a contest for fans to make costumes using a household material or object or, better yet, one of your company’s products if possible.
22. Ask Twitter followers to tweet photos of their kids’ Halloween candy hauls. Reward the largest pile of candy with a prize (maybe a year’s supply of toothpaste?).
23. It’s simple, but this is a social twist on a common game. Fill a jar with candy, take a picture, tweet it, and ask fans to guess how many pieces of candy are in the jar. Send the jar of candy to whoever gets closest to the correct number.
24. Host a Twitter contest in which the first fan to retweet any time your brand posts a tweet containing “trick” or “tweet” can win a prize.
25. Set up a program where fans can send you their Halloween candy and your company sends it to overseas troops.
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The Halloween Candy Buy-Back program on Facebook gives back to the troops but also cleverly collects participants’ email addresses.

Thanksgiving

You don’t need to be Butterball to talk turkey. This day of food, football, and family lends itself to personalized dialogue with your fans, as well as being the perfect time to showcase how your company gives back to the community.
26. Give back to the community and give your brand a reputation boost by documenting your company-wide volunteer efforts on your social profiles.
27. Small businesses can partner with a local food bank and donate a certain amount of food per number of Facebook fans and/or Twitter followers acquired during a set period of time. For example, donate one can of food per new fan the week leading up to Thanksgiving.
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28. Larger businesses can match fan donations to a selected charity. Keep a running tally of the total donations within a Facebook tab or on a microsite.
29. Upload a video to YouTube about a charity your company supports. Offer to donate a dollar amount to the charity per video views the video gets within a short amount of time.
30. Sponsor a tweet-a-thon. EpicThanks’ Tweetsgiving 2010 is a great example of the power Twitter has to raise charitable money quickly: it raised $11,000 in 48 hours last year.
31. Ask fans to tweet photos of their Thanksgiving dinner spread and retweet some of the best photos.
32. Thanksgiving is the busiest travel time of the year. Leading up to the week of Thanksgiving, offer tips for staying stress-free while traveling. The day before Thanksgiving is a perfect time to target these fans with light-hearted content like silly videos and trivia questions.
33. Partner with a food blogger and sponsor a Twitter party. Perdue partnered with Resourceful Mommy to host a Twitter Party last Thanksgiving. The food blogger can invite his or her followers to participate, and they will use a designated, branded hashtag to host a Twitter chat about preparing Thanksgiving dinner. Select a winner out of the participants to receive a prize.
34. Ask fans to tweet pictures of their kitchen disasters on Thanksgiving, like a burned turkey, broken dishes, or an inedible Jell-O mold. Retweet the best photo and send the winner a cooking-related prize.
35. Don’t forget football. Incorporate hashtags for this year’s Thanksgiving Day football games into your tweets or ask your followers which games they’re watching and who they’re cheering for.

Black Friday / Cyber Monday

Leverage the fact that people love a great deal and exclusive discounts to grow your follower base.
36. Online reviews are a huge part of online shoppers’ buying process. Get more customer reviews by encouraging new and old customers to post reviews.
37. On that note, if your business is not yet listed on relevant customer review sites, take the time to set up a listing. Think of these as additional branding assets and add photos, links, products, and anything else to give users a quick overview of your business.
38. For online purchases, suggest customers write a review by featuring a review site link in their confirmation page or in email receipts.
39. For in-store purchases, suggest customer reviews in a sign by the register or included on printed materials.
40. Add a Facebook review tab to your page and encourage fans to add reviews.
Review tabs are a default tab option for Local Business Facebook pages, like this one from Soho Sushi.
41. Bring Facebook into your store. The Diesel Cam was put near dressing rooms so shoppers could upload photos to their Facebook profile as they tried on Diesel clothing, but this could be used in any retail location for people to show off their Black Friday purchases.
42. Can’t afford a fancy in-store kiosk like Diesel? Put a sign at your register telling fans to upload their Black Friday haul purchases or a picture of their receipt to your Facebook page. Offer a prize to the fan who saved the most money.
43. Create an in-store Black Friday event exclusive to Foursquare users, where attendees can check-in to Foursquare for an additional discount and they’ll potentially unlock a swarm badge.
44. Broadcast time-sensitive deals on Twitter and Facebook.  This not only creates a sense of urgency, but fans will pay more attention to your social profiles if they are expecting spontaneous announcements of a sale that is lasting for the next hour only and be likely to share this news with their friends.
45. Give early access to sale prices using a fan-gated Facebook tab or asking fans to tweet a branded message to receive a direct message containing a discount code. Last year, Sears awarded 25 Facebook fans early access to their Black Friday deals.
46. Hide discount codes within YouTube videos. New holiday-themed video content can be used for this, but even old YouTube videos can be repurposed to include an annotation with a discount code. Users will want to share videos with their friends once they find the discount code.
47. Encourage sharing. Give a reward for sharing your Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals. For example, offer an additional discount if a customer tweets about the discount using a designated hashtag.
48. Leading up to Black Friday, promote your social media efforts in-store. For example, put “Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for exclusive holiday offers” cards in each shopping bag to gain new followers and reward loyal customers who may not be aware of your social media presence.
49.  Use Facebook ads as an inexpensive way to target users by interests or brands they like.
50. Take Facebook ads even further by targeting a specific area to drive people into your physical store locations.

Christmas

51. 12 days of Christmas = 12 days of discounts. Offer a different discount or sale item every day to build anticipation and reward fans for consistently visiting your social profiles.
52. Capitalizing on the “12 days” theme, beauty retailer Sephora had a “Sephora Claus” Twitter campaign, where they awarded one of its products daily to a fan for tweeting “Dear @sephora, All I want for the holidays this year is _________.”  They also created a microsite just for this campaign, where fans were given an additional chance to enter.
53. Similar to the Sephora contest, Southwest’s “12 Days of Luv” Twitter campaign asked followers to tweet a different Southwest-themed photo every day and gave away a $1,000 gift card for the best photo each day.
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54. Create a “Christmas Tree Makeover” contest. Have fans share photos of their bare or tiny Christmas tree, and award the worst tree with a gift card.
55. Set up an in-store Christmas photo op. Offer fans a discount if they tweet their photo or share it on Facebook.
56. Post daily gift ideas. These don’t necessarily have to be your product, but they can be anything related to your brand.
57. Take it a step further and post gift ideas for your target audience.  A tire company could share gift ideas for car enthusiasts, a tech company could share gift ideas for geeks, and a gourmet food store could post gift ideas for home cooks.
58. Create a tab for an ugly Christmas sweater photo contest on your Facebook page where fans can upload their photos and vote for the ugliest entry. Reward the winner with a gift card to a classy clothing store.
59. Ask fans to share photos of what it looks like outside their window on Christmas morning where they live. This should produce a wide range of photos, like snowy, sunny, rainy, desert, mountains, beach, etc., that can be put in an album celebrating how your fans live around the country/world.
60. On Christmas Day, offer to retweet the first 10 followers who tweet a picture of their favorite gift.
How do you think companies can use the holidays to connect with their social media followers? What are some great holiday social media promotions you’ve seen?