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Long-term social media campaigns push holiday commerce higher

While targeted social media posts may be effective in spreading the word about seasonal offers, marketers need a long-term social media strategy encompassing the entire holiday season for their brand to truly resonate with consumers. 

Retailers that promote via one-day-only flash sales around holidays may see sales spike slightly, but offering sneak peeks of upcoming deals on mobile and building up a trending hashtag can place a seed of curiosity in consumers? minds. Having a cohesive social media strategy during the winter season is imperative for brands, as a recent survey conducted by ecommerce platform MarketLive displayed that 30 percent of participants made a purchase as a direct result of engaging with a brand?s social media site within the past year.

?First, anything a retailer does in the realm of digital shopping or gifting should be approached as a mobile-first initiative, meaning the efforts must work seamlessly on a mobile device,? said Tyler Roye, CEO and co-founder of eGifter, Huntington, N.Y. ?Regarding social commerce in particular, as this grows into a channel of its own, the question for retailers becomes how can I weave my brand into my target consumers' social streams in a way that feels most natural.

?So different audiences play a huge role-- some consumers are going to turn to social media to get news from their favorite brands, others for redeemable coupons, but a majority is really just there to see what their networks are sharing, and get opinions or ideas when they're shopping.?

Long-term strategy
Many large brands have now taken to unveiling sneak peeks of their holiday deals on mobile devices, a strategy that has been shown to boost discussion on social media hashtags and generate more buzz around the retailer.

Sears has been drumming up interest in its Black Friday offers by releasing an early look at some of the deals for members of its Shop Your Way rewards program (see story). Customers can use mobile site to browse doorbuster deals before they hit local stores, and can discuss them on designated hashtags on Twitter, such as #MoreMerry and #MembersFirst. 

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?Black Friday is often when consumers start to really plan their holiday gifts and shop for close and extended family and friends for the winter holidays, so keeping the range of different opportunities they have across social and mobile channels top of mind is important,? Mr. Roye said.

?Work with top solutions in the market to weave commerce opportunities and engagement into social streams, like a Facebook timeline or Twitter feed, instead of forcing them to exit and visit another page ?and of course whatever you do, make sure it works well on mobile.?

Cultivating relationships
Rewards programs are great tools to leverage for holiday mobile strategy. Offering sneak peeks, members-only coupons or promotions only available via social media channels will help cultivate personal relationships with consumers and ensure that the brand stays at the forefront of their minds while they shop for gifts.

?Being where your customers are is the most effective marketing strategy,? said Bill Aurnhammer, CEO of Aurnhammer, New York. ?Since 60 percent of the population accesses social media using mobile, any marketing campaign needs to enable customers to quickly make purchases through their smartphone.

?This means retailers should also have a native shopping app for iOS and Android with a simple intuitive interface for their customers. Additionally, tools like push notifications, Geo-Fencing, and iBeacons can help guide customers who wish to experience brick-and-mortar shopping.?

Leveraging mobile and social media for a long-term campaign can also drive more mobile application downloads and memberships to loyalty programs. Therefore, social campaigns are two-fold: the end goal is to drive more holiday commerce, but the means allows retailers to establish long-lasting relationships with consumers, which may be priceless.

?Harness any customer data available to target specific customers with calls-to-action that are relevant to their gift lists,? eGifter?s Mr. Roye said. ?No matter how they approach it, brands that don't develop a strong social and mobile commerce strategy this year risk losing business as consumers across the board become increasingly tapped in.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York