3 Ways Retailers Can Crush the Holiday Rush
The holiday season is in full swing. We’ve survived Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but that doesn’t mean floods of consumers are finished shopping for gifts. It’s a sprint to the finish line (aka, New Year’s).
So, how can a retailer make the most of this holiday shopping season? Easy. Social media is your best ally for reaching customers and boosting sales. Not only is it where your customers already spend a good chunk of their day, but it’s really the perfect platform for engaging them with content and promotions that draw added attention to your brand.
It’s also a space where customer service can shine. In fact, in our recently released State of Social Engagement study, we found that the brands that responded to customers quickly and went above and beyond to create more personalized shopping experiences on social media were those best primed to earn customer loyalty year-round. This is even more important during the busy holiday shopping season as frenzied consumers are hurriedly working through their “naughty and nice” lists and can really use a helping hand to make that experience as pleasant and stress-free as possible.
Now you’re probably thinking, “I already have a presence on Facebook and Twitter, and sometimes post pictures on Instagram – isn’t that enough?” Sure, it’s a great start, but just being present only goes so far. Here are three ways you can amp up your social media efforts this holiday season:
1. Don’t just post — engage. It’s really easy to forget that social media is a two-way street. Oftentimes we see brands doing a great job of posting content or promotions, but in doing so, they allow social media to be nothing more than a broadcast channel. Taking a one-sided approach really misses a huge opportunity to reach and engage customers at a deeper level. The brands that embrace social media as an end-to-end customer experience platform are those that ultimately win the retail war.
Why? Because it’s a space where shoppers are not only looking for interesting content and enticing deals, but also asking questions and seeking help, with the expectation that brands will respond quickly (because let’s face it, who has time to waste during the holiday shopping season?). I say this all the time, but I can’t underscore enough the importance for retail brands to listen and respond quickly. Shoppers today expect you to be there to hold their hand from start to finish. Social media lets you be wherever shoppers are, so don’t miss that opportunity to be there for your customers when they need you most.
2. Ignite your influencers. While it’s nice to have a one-on-one conversation with shoppers via social media, there's a lot of value in bringing your key influencers into the fold. What they bring to your communications is an unparalleled level of authenticity that, in today’s somewhat marketing-skeptical world, goes a long way in building brand loyalty. Use this as a time to co-create with your influencers and leverage all of your social channels to share content about new products, services, holiday promotions and other brand storytelling that will spark interest and engagement with shoppers. Look at it this way: Asking your influencers to be a part of your holiday social strategy is essentially the equivalent of positive word-of-mouth multiplied. Influencers hold a lot of sway with their followers. If they also love your brand and have no problem singing its praises, hop on that bandwagon — you have nothing to lose.
3. Tap into your community. If you have an online community, don’t leave them hanging this holiday season. The people within your community are typically those who already love and support your brand — i.e., they're brand loyalists. However, as loyalists, they expect you to give them a little TLC. Be sure to use your community to take your communications to the next level. Provide a closer look — or even a sneak peek — at new products. Answer questions and address customer service issues as they arise. Create and post shareable content that they can broadcast on their own social channels. And, most importantly, be sure to create an environment that gets your community talking to each other. These are your biggest advocates; let them be a megaphone for your brand.
Long story short, social media can be your biggest ally during the busy holiday shopping season. Be sure to make the most of it because, when you do, you’ll not only boost customer satisfaction, but you’ll also set yourself up to see an uptick in sales. Social media is, in my opinion, today’s best customer engagement platform; not using it to its full potential is no longer an option for retail brands, whether during the holiday season or year-round.
Katy Keim is the chief marketing officer and and head of business development at Lithium, a company whose social media software provides on-demand, hosted forums and chats for businesses.
Katy Keim is the CMO and and head of business development at Lithium. In her role as CMO, Katy is responsible for all strategic marketing activities for the company including branding, positioning, communications, go-to-market strategy and customer acquisition programs. As Head of Business Development & Alliances, Katy oversees the ongoing growth of Lithium's business through its partner ecosystem.