Small Businesses Are Realizing Social Media Presence Will Make or Break Their Sales This Holiday Season

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As the holidays approach, small businesses are realizing that it’s time to optimize their social media marketing, in order to make the most of the holiday shopping market.

A study by Crowdtap shows that nearly 65% of shoppers use social media to find a gift for a loved one, meaning that a festive social media strategy would be well-timed to boost signals for the most wonderful time of the year: holiday shopping season.

“It is important that all businesses have a presence on social media channels, especially Google+, Twitter and Facebook, since they are the 3 biggest social channels out there,” says Tim McDonald, Marketing Manager at RankXpress. “A properly maintained and active social media campaign can get a businesses products or services out to the people actively looking for them online.”

Monif Clarke didn’t have a social media strategy until she hired a consultant to help her build one. Clarke is the owner of the New York-based Monif C. Plus Sizes women’s clothing company.

Clarke has been making use of the business’s Facebook page, which has 180,000 “likes,” but she used it only for posting pictures and promoting sales. It wasn’t long before she realized she needed to do more.

“We need to reach the customers we have in a more effective way and attract new customers,” Clarke says.

Monif C. Plus Sizes has a new social media strategy just in time to make the most of the holiday shopping season. The new marketing plan includes Facebook contests with prizes including a $1,000 wardrobe. When Facebook users click on a link about a contest, they are directed to the business’s website.

When they enter the contest, users’ email addresses are recorded. Since Monif C. gets nearly 30% of its sales from email promotions, those addresses are key to increasing business.

Clarke will also use social media to promote a program giving customers a $25 discount if they recommend friends who buy from Monif C. The friends also get a $25 discount.

This kind of active social media presence can be a big change for small business owners, who are not used to making social media a priority.

“All of this is new for small businesses. They’ve not been used to using social media actively,” says Christina Shaw, chief marketing officer at Blue Fountain Media, a marketing consulting company.

Oren Greenberg, founder and managing director of digital marketing agency Kurve, explains that the key to an effective marketing strategy is to be clear about the business objectives.

“Are you aiming to increase revenue by 20% or 30%? Or to receive 50% more website hits, or simply gain extra brand exposure? How you approach your festive strategy should be based on these aims, and everything you share, tweet or post from that point on must be underpinned by these aims.”

Facebook drove 4% of all visits to retail websites during the 2012 Christmas season, making it a great platform for a holiday marketing campaign. Twitter is another great option, because it is often used for reviewing products leading up to Christmas. Many consumers use reviews on Twitter to help make purchasing decisions.

Facebook and Twitter are the best platforms to promote your holiday campaign, but restricting your campaign to just the major platforms could cause you to miss out on some valuable opportunities.

Running holiday competitions on social media is a great way to improve brand awareness, resulting in lots of likes and shares. It’s particularly effective if entry into the competition requires sharing the competition status. These types of competitions also help the company come across as engaged and proactive.

Vivian Sayward, owner of San Diego-based Vivacity Sportswear, anticipates a 50% increase in sales, thanks to her new social media campaign. She has discovered that the buzz created by social media really makes users want to visit Vivacity Sportswear’s website.

“Just by creating a website does not mean that the shoppers will come,” she says.

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