When is the appropriate time to put up holiday decorations? In December? After Thanksgiving? Before Halloween?
While the great decoration debate continues online, there’s no question that holiday marketing is beginning sooner than ever. According to a Q3 Sprout pulse survey, 75% of marketers are publishing holiday content earlier in 2023 compared to 2022.
In this article, we’re exploring how your brand can lean into holiday marketing on social media to make the most of the elongated festive season—from early Black Friday campaigns to the beginning of the new year.
Holiday marketing trends for 2023
From the coziness of autumn to the magic of a winter wonderland, seasonal marketing campaigns call upon the strong emotional connection we feel toward end-of-year holiday traditions. Nostalgic for joyful memories of holidays past, people got into the spirit early in 2022, a trend we expect to see continue. Traditionally, consumers celebrate this special time of year by splurging on gifts for loved ones (and themselves). This year will be no different, but consumers will be more discerning with their dollar in the face of a down economy.
Experts predict total retail sales will hit around $1.19 trillion globally, a slight increase from 2022. Brands that perform well this holiday season will depend on strong social campaigns and personalized AI-powered customer care experiences to help them stand out from the crowd.
To make the most of their holiday marketing efforts, brands need to take note of key consumer trends.
Holiday marketing will start early on social this year
Holiday predictions show profits from online channels are expected to be strong, despite lackluster sales predictions overall. According to The 2023 Sprout Social Index™, 52% of consumers used social more in the past two years than in the previous two, especially to help them discover new products and services.
That means focusing on driving social commerce and conversions to your website will be crucial, and the sooner the better. By the end of November, 89% of marketers will have already begun their holiday push on social, according to Q3 Sprout pulse survey data. Holiday competition on social media will be fierce.
In fact, holiday shopping hype is already building momentum on social. According to Sprout’s Advanced Listening tool, from August 9 to September 8, 2023, there were 23,000 Posts on X (formerly Twitter) about holiday deals, holiday shopping and the holiday season.
AI-powered customer care will give companies a competitive edge
According to this year’s Index, 76% of consumers notice and appreciate when companies prioritize customer support, and another 70% expect companies to provide personalized responses to customer care needs. To deliver the quality, individualized responses customers are looking for at scale during the busy holiday season, brands need to invest in AI workflow efficiencies and tools.
By tapping AI technologies like machine learning, natural language processing and sentiment analysis, support teams will provide an enhanced, intuitive customer experience, resulting in increased satisfaction and revenue. In the Salesforce 2023 Holiday Forecast, experts predict generative AI will influence $194 billion in global holiday shopping spend this holiday season.
Micro-influencer marketing will drive purchases
Influencer marketing is a tried-and-true method for generating brand awareness and share of voice year-round. According to a Q3 Sprout pulse survey, 89% of marketers agree influencer marketing impacts their brand awareness.
Yet, as influencer marketing continues to evolve, marketers and consumers have grown concerned about the authenticity of macro-influencers (influencers with 100,000–1 million followers). Though they have the potential to expand reach greatly, their messaging might not resonate as well as smaller influencers who seem like true fans of a brand.
This holiday season, micro-influencers’ (influencers with 10,000–100,000 followers) authentic content is key to increasing your engagements. The tight-knit communities micro-influencers build will help you establish trust with their audience, ultimately leading to higher conversion rates and sales.
Holiday marketing strategies by platform
When choosing social media platforms to use for your holiday marketing campaigns, it’s most important to consider where your audience spends their time on social. Posting on the channels they use most frequently is the best way to ensure they see your holiday promotions.
Some of the most popular holiday marketing social networks are Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and TikTok. Let’s dive into the benefits of each, and how you can tailor your content to perform well on each platform.
Guide to Instagram marketing this holiday season
Instagram is known as a popular platform for holiday marketing because of its visual-first nature. Share static images and Reels of your products on the app to promote your holiday offers. Elevate your best deals, promos and events by featuring them in your bio links and shoppable posts. Provide shopping inspiration for your followers by creating holiday gift guides.
Take it a step further by reposting user-generated content (UGC) and influencer content of people using (and loving) your products. You can also tap into UGC to find relatable holiday-themed content that will delight your community. Pro tip: even if the focus isn’t on your brand, UGC is one of the best ways to increase your awareness. Don’t forget to shine the spotlight on the nonprofit organizations your brand is partnering up with this holiday season. Share photos/videos of your team volunteering and infographics about the organization’s impact.
Holiday marketing strategies on Pinterest
When you think holiday inspiration, you think Pinterest. Pinterest oozes holiday cheer, and is the destination for all things yuletide DIY.
During the holiday season, Pinners will be on the lookout for on-trend recipes, holiday outfit ideas, décor inspiration and more. Use your brand’s products to create visually appealing photos and short videos with these topics in mind. Include instructions on how to make it or wear it at home (including links to your website). You can position your posts as gift suggestions for your target audience, too (example: what to buy your best friend for Christmas).
Take it to the next level with shoppable Product Pins. These posts make it easy to go from searching for inspiration to buying something—all within the app.
Make the most of Facebook as a customer care destination during the holidays
Facebook is the most popular social media platform in the world, with 3 billion monthly active users. It’s also the most used platform for customer service. According to 2022 Index data, 60% of consumers use Facebook for their customer service needs, while 69% of customer care teams provide support through the platform.
This holiday season, scale your customer care efforts on Facebook, and integrate AI tools into your tech stack to increase your workflow efficiency. This will enable a stronger customer experience and ease internal collaboration.
While consumers turn to Facebook for customer support needs, they stay on the app for attention-grabbing content (think new holiday products, deals and promos). You can even kick start holiday shopping conversations on Messenger with ads that click to message. Maximize the performance of your organic and paid content by experimenting with video and ephemeral content, and use your analytics to identify your best performing content early in the holiday season so you can replicate your success into the new year.
Maximize holiday trends on TikTok
Gen Z uses TikTok as their preferred search engine. To reach them this year, consider how your holiday marketing can meet their search intent. Educate them about problems your products can help them solve (example: how to decorate for Hanukkah like a pro). Note: the holiday season is a great time to partner with TikTok creators who are already creating this content.
Even if your audience doesn’t include Gen Z, you can still use the app for your holiday marketing efforts. Reach a wide audience by tapping into trending sounds and going all-in on holiday aesthetics.
To maximize your profit on TikTok, add products from your website to your TikTok Shop. By creating a TikTok Shop, you can showcase products through in-feed videos, lives and product showcase tabs.
5 brand examples to fuel your holiday marketing
Make the most of holiday marketing on social with content that resonates with your audience and conveys the essence of your brand.
Use these social media holiday marketing campaigns as sources of inspiration.
Spread holiday cheer
Last year, Glasgow University celebrated by sharing picturesque posts of their campus blanketed in snow and decked out for the season. They also shared photos and video guides of holiday events happening in their community, and shared best wishes for students celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s and all end-of-year holidays.
Whether you’re a large enterprise company, university or healthcare company, remember wholesome holiday cheer unites communities. Use social media to promote your in-person and virtual events. In your content, lean into holiday traditions and customs beloved by your audience.
Tie your content to tales of long, long ago
Two years ago, AirBnB co-hosted a special holiday experience with the makers of the Home Alone franchise. People could book an overnight stay in the house they used to film the original movie—complete with recreations of iconic scenes. AirBnB shared staged photos of different rooms in the house on Instagram. The comment section lit up with excitement.
By incorporating classic holiday tales—from A Christmas Carol to A Christmas Story—in your holiday marketing, you activate the power of nostalgia. Experiment with fun ways to weave the stories into your social copy and visuals.
Make visions of sugarplums dance in their heads
Last holiday season, Cinnabon made their followers’ mouths water. As a part of their holiday promotion across platforms, they envisioned their famous cinnamon rolls as the MVP of your holiday gift giving. Their images and short videos captured the decadence of their products, while reinforcing what great gifts they make.
In your campaign, take a cue from Cinnabon by creating a scene filled with the hallmarks of the holidays. Show people the experiences they will be able to have because of your products—whether they treat themselves or their loved ones.
Celebrate the spirit of the season
Casey’s uses the season of giving as an opportunity to bolster the causes their audience cares about and support their stores’ local communities. In this post, they pledged to help a community rebuild after a devastating tornado.
If you create a giving campaign, align your philanthropy with your brand’s values and your audience. While holiday deals and promotions have their place, building a genuine connection with your community will create enduring connections.
Be ready for holly jolly customer care
When Starbucks announced their 2022 holiday cups, they were immediately flooded with comments across platforms. Their social media team jumped into action to start answering frequently asked questions and engaging with fans of the new design.
With holiday campaigns kicking off sooner than ever, you need to prepare for holiday customer service spikes as soon as possible. Have a plan in place for answering common questions, engaging with your audience and passing off more complex issues.
Use these holiday marketing tips for a merry and bright holiday season
More people are turning to ecommerce and social shopping, and the most wonderful time of the year keeps getting longer. That means more pressure on social teams to design attention-grabbing campaigns and answer an influx of customer care inquiries.
As you gear up for the season, optimize your holiday marketing strategy by selecting the right platforms to reach your audience and producing best-in-class content.
Want to learn more about how your brand can bring your social “A” game this holiday season? Read our complete guide to social media marketing.