December is upon us, and with it the start of the festive season proper.
Many small businesses rely on the run-up to Christmas for a disproportionate percentage of their annual turnover. London department store Liberty, for example, will make 20 per cent of their yearly income during this three week period.
It is vital that you are properly prepared for the festive rush – and your social media presence will be one of the key ways in which you can leverage increased consumer spending. So how can you ensure that your social media strategies are up to scratch?
Think about visuals
Most social networks provide you with the opportunity to customise visuals. On Twitter, for example, you can choose your own profile picture and header image, while Facebook offers the chance to change profile images and cover photos. Rather than sticking with the same images month in month out, change your profile images to reflect the festive season. Make sure, however, that your existing logo and messaging remain visible, in order to ensure your customers can easily determine who they are dealing with.
If you are on Twitter, think about the Christmas hashtags that you can follow and contribute to. The nature of these hashtags will vary depending on the nature of your business, but you should pay particular attention to popular topics like #uksnow. You might also consider piggy-backing on other, high profile festive events. For example, many publications made great play of the John Lewis advert, using it as an opportunity to raise their profile by contributing to existing conversations.
Images are king
Twitter and Facebook, along with other important networks such as Google+, place great importance in the use of images. Recent changes to Twitter mean that images are prominently displayed in users’ timelines without the necessity to click, while there is overwhelming research to suggest that posts accompanied by images on Facebook perform significantly better. Remember to include images wherever possible, as their intelligent use can dramatically improve engagement.
It is important that your business stands out during the hyper-competitive Christmas period. One way in which you might achieve this is to run promotions based on festive themes. For example, you might offer a great giveaway on each of the twelve days of Christmas. Alternatively, you might promote reductions on particularly popular items in order to entice potential customers away from your competitors.
Be available for support
Remember that you are likely to experience a much higher volume of customer enquiries during the Christmas period. You therefore need to ensure that you have enough resource to deal with these queries. If you make yourself available on social media, you need to ensure that it is constantly monitored. You should expect higher numbers of users to contact you using these channels, and you therefore need to remain constantly connected. You might, for example, choose to give yourself and trusted employees access to your social networks on their mobiles, in order to keep in touch with customers.
Finally, it is important to harness the power of scheduling. Many of the major social networks now allow users to compose posts in advance, and then set the time and date on which they would like them to go live. Alternatively you might use software like HootSuite to enable you to do the same thing. This function has particular benefits over the Christmas period, when you may already be over-stretched. You can draft your key posts in one go, and then set them to publish at specific times. You might also choose to send ‘happy Christmas’ messages on Christmas Day, allowing you to maintain a presence during this important time while also having the day off.