Getting Social with the Season: How to leverage social media to maximize the holidays

Most businesses know that social media can be an effective – and low-cost – tool in their overall marketing mix, regardless of what they’re selling or to whom they’re selling it. But it’s funny: Even businesses that do a good job with their social media marketing and communications most of the year often overlook its holiday-marketing potential.

The real-time nature of social media makes it a perfect channel for seasonal marketing. From holiday-themed tweets (“Loving this snow – it’s like walking in a winter wonderland!”) to holiday party photos on your Facebook page, or a ‘seasons greetings’ banner on your LinkedIn company page, it’s a great opportunity to generate interest, raise awareness, and give your stakeholders a smile.

Here are 5 ways you can take advantage of your social media channels this holiday season:

  1. Create a seasonal version of your logo. You don’t have to be Google to create a temporarily different version of your logo. Giving your logo a holiday twist by using different colors, adding a snowflake or a candycane in the corner or turning that H into a smoking chimney is a good way to convey that you’re a friendly, positive brand that isn’t afraid to have a little fun. You can post the new logo on your website, on your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn pages, your YouTube profile pic – anywhere you’d normally have a logo or profile picture.
  2. Make a video in the office (featuring staff members). With a digital video camera and some basic editing skills, it’s relatively easy to make your own holiday video. (Don’t have the equipment or skills in-house? Contact your local college to find a media student who will do it for less than a big-budget studio.) You can have employees lipsync to a holiday favorite, get them to dance around dressed up as presents, or just create a montage of photos with amusing captions, set to an upbeat tune. Post it on YouTube and then share it across your social media channels – and send the link to your clients. PROTIP: Keep the video under 3 minutes for maximum viewability.)
  3. Create a hashtag. Hashtags – short phrases preceded by an # – are a great way to promote a specific holiday offer, message or theme across social media. Having a big sale during the last two weeks of December? Call it the #snowflakeselloff and then use that hashtag whenever you tweet, post an update on Facebook, add news to your LinkedIn page – all of your social media channels. You may not achieve ‘trending now’ status on Twitter, but you may just pique the interest of a few clients, and that’s probably better anyway.
  4. Get your employees involved. Chances are, the majority of your employees are using at least one social media channel on a regular basis, and leveraging their networks can increase your reach exponentially. While you may not feel comfortable asking employees to use their social media accounts for ‘work stuff’ during the rest of the year, coming up with a less commercial-seeming holiday message (such as “Looking forward to the office food drive this December! #snowflakeselloff”) might make it easier, and more likely to make them want to participate. (Remember, social media via employees always works best if you can get them genuinely excited about where they work and what they’re doing!)
  5. Design a ‘giving back’ program. People hate it when you use social media to relentlessly push a sales message; they’re much less annoyed when you use it to relentlessly push a ‘giving back’ message, and the holiday season is the perfect time to do this. You don’t have to donate tens of thousands of dollars to a name-brand charity – you just have to be doing something. Maybe you’re giving the staff the afternoon off to volunteer at a homeless shelter; maybe you’re conducting a toy drive for local disadvantaged kids. Whatever you do, social media is a great way to both get others involved and to use it to generate a little positive brand awareness.

And don’t forget: Just because you’re a business doesn’t mean you can’t have a sense of humor. The best seasonal marketing efforts reflect the lightheartedness of the season.