Social Marketing is going to play a bigger role during this holiday selling season than ever before. E-commerce merchants need to know how to use social media to create engagement, buzz and return-on-investment. This article shares 8 social media marketing tips designed to increase your website’s sales during this holiday selling season.
If we forgot your favorite social marketing holiday sales tip, please leave a comment or send a Tweet to @Atlanticbt.
Social Marketing Holiday Tip #1: Balance Your Social Media Diet
Argyle Social posted an excellent study showing that the best approach to social media is to balance links out with links in. You will always convert more with links directed in to your owned websites, since immediate conversion is possible there. Links out to curated content can help reinforce your authority and brand image and so may increase conversions– eventually. Links in to your owned content can convert NOW. The Argyle study suggests an optimal 50% to 50% mix of curation to promotion. If you have a B2C e-commerce website, we suggest moving links to owned content up to 75% as you get closer to your holiday shipping shutoff.
Make sure you increase your promotional links in an engaging way. Don’t just say, “HUGE SALE,” all the time, as that gets boring. Curate reviews into your tweets, use interesting facts about a particular product, inject some controversy and/or quote an influential person:
Example Tweet 1:
.@Oprah called Widget Y a “Very Cool Thing”; Widget Y is part of Our Early Bird Holiday Sale. Buy Widget Y: <link to Holiday sale page with Widget Y in prominent position on the first row or featured>
Note the period in front of @Oprah. That period stops the Tweet from only going to @Oprah.
Example Tweet 2:
Buzz Team Member @ScentTrail Calls Widget Y Coolest Thing Since Sliced Bread. Read his and other Widget Y Power Reviews: <link to Widget Y product page>
Note this tweet should drive to a product page OR a Holiday Review page. I prefer driving to pages with more than one option during the holidays. If you do drive to a single product page, make sure you have plenty of Cross- and Up-Sells on that page. If not, create new pages for the holidays to focus reviews on popular products collected in a group.
Social Marketing Holiday Tip #2: Use Scoop.it as Real Time Feedback Loop
I’m a big Scoop.it fan. Take a look at our 12 Digital Revolution Scoop.it Feeds. Scoop.it earned our
loyalty by sharing their SEO juice, providing an easy way to spider the social web using keywords, being an easy to use hub, and providing a near real time read on content acceptance.
Scoop.it Shares Link Juice
Most social network platforms hoard their Search Engine Optimization power (link juice) with 90% or more of the benefits being accrued by the platform (Facebook comes immediately to mind). Your content is key to any social network’s position, but they usually share the minimum. Scoop.it takes a different approach. We have owned the #1 SEO position (absolute as determined by a tool) on “Curation Revolution” since weeks within launching the feed. We have never been able to make something similar happen on any other social network.
Scoop.it Spiders the Social Web
When you set up a Scoop.it account, and the first 5 feeds are free, you provide the keywords you want Scoop.it’s engine to spider. The stream is updated constantly throughout the day and can provide a great “first alert” early warning system for key products or competitive actions during the holidays.
Scoop.it is Easy to Use & Helps with Other Social Nets
Scoop.it has an easy to use interface. Setting up an account is a breeze, and you can get the hang of curating and posting in no time thanks to link hints and a good FAQ area with examples. Scoop.it also makes a great hub for other social networks, such as Facebook, Pinterest and Google Plus. It is easy to post to all of those networks from Scoop.it. The only tricky part is to keep in mind that links inside of Scoop.it drive back to your Scoop.it feed. If you have a blog post, you should link to it from Pinterest, Google Plus and other social networks directly, IN ADDITION to driving links from those networks to your Scoop.it summary. No need to add an extra click when there is no value added from the extra step.
Scoop.it’s Near Real-Time Feedback
Scoop.it provides a dashboard that shows your daily and all-time views. The Scoop.it community takes several hours to digest new content, but their “views” number is the closest thing we know of for consistent, near real-time feedback on your content. Watching your views, your Retweets and Facebook comments will create a near real-time feedback loop that can help you catch mistakes, know if you have winner offers or content, and generally inform your holiday social marketing better than if you weren’t using this magic wand of a social media tool.
Social Marketing Holiday Tip #3: Create Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
When something BIG or GOOD happens, SHARE IT on every social network you manage. Don’t share the exact same language, and don’t retweet your own Tweets very often if you manage multiple accounts since to do so is considered spamming, but be sure to share good news. If one of your best sellers receives an award, create a badge (a little graphic), put the badge on the product’s image so it shows up all over your site, write content into the product page discussing the award, and share the good news several times in different ways over your social channels.
Calling attention to good things in social may make them bigger and better. Support your social notices with content on your core site. You want people to land somewhere and CONVERT, so add content to your site to take credit, announce or share good things. Giving your social media links a place to land inside a site you own is how you create social media marketing ROI.
Social Marketing Holiday Tip #4: How to Use Twitter – Tweet Frequency and When to Tweet
Twitter is a POWERFUL social media tool. We’ve had content reach close to a million people via power retweeters. Content that is cool, exclusive, funny, controversial and helpful will get shared. You should use Twitter to support every other social network you create and curate content into. Twitter + Scoop.it or Twitter + Pinterest is more powerful than either social network alone.
One common question is when and how often should you tweet. The half-life of a tweet, according to bit.ly research, is about 3 hours. In 3 hours, about half of all the shares your post will generate are known (this can vary by day of the week). If you were always SURE what link would create viral pickup, then Tweeting every 3 hours makes sense. If you knew ahead of time what would go viral, you should be on a beach somewhere sipping cold beverages since you can predict the future. In the real world, we play a “junk bond” content game. We tweet many links that will have average performance to find a few that will go viral. Once a link does go viral, be sure to call attention to it on your social networks, because most viral links have at least one second act.
If I were still managing an ecommerce site, I would tweet heavily early in the morning to feed people who retweet, heavily during the 11:00 to 2:00 lunch window, and then consistently from 4 to midnight. I would also have something fun and engaging happening on social media every weekend. You will need to queue some of your tweets. Be sure to be present and checking direct messages and comments during important times each day. Create an alert system and respond to compliments, complaints and news as soon as possible. The longer a brush fire burns in social media, the worse it gets.
Social Marketing Holiday Tip #5: Social Media Tools
There are several social media tools such as Scoop.it (see Tip 2), BufferApp and HootSuite that can help you manage and curate social media. Many tools use freemium business models, so you can use them at low levels for free. If you have a larger budget, WildFire and Expion make enterprise social media marketing tool suites that help manage campaigns across many networks. Our favorite social marketing reporting tool is Argyle Social. Our favorite unknown monitoring weapon is Spring Metrics. With Google hiding more and more data due to Secure Socket Layer encryption, Spring Metrics becomes a great supplement to Google Analytics.
Read TheNextWeb.com’s excellent “Best Free Social Media Tracking Tools You Should Know About” for more.
Creating An Alert System
If you don’t have the budget for Radian6, the premier ORM (Online Reputation Management) tool now owned by Salesforce.com, you can create a solid alert system with free tools such as Google Alerts and Topsy.
Topsy is our favorite, since it captures links all the way out to friends of friends, allowing you to know the whole story. Don’t just look at your link share tool. Many people who share your content will copy the link and not use your tool. And the only way to see those “friends of friends” shares is with a tool such as Topsy or Radian6 (if you have the budget).
Social Marketing Holiday Tip #6: Know What You Should Alert
You want your alert system to tell you about what hot products are doing out there in the competitive world. Putting product names as keywords into Google, Topsy or Scoop.it will bring back interesting information. If you see an important competitor using one of your best sellers as a loss leader, you may want to match their price in order to not lose sales.
I don’t like letting someone else drive my e-commerce sites. I prefer when competitors watch and copy my sites. One favorite tactic when we saw a competitor offering a loss leader price on a hot product is to create a new bundle. Bundle the hot product into a new unique idea that combines upsale items (things frequently purchased with the hot product). This unique merchandising marks and one-ups the competitor in a unique way that protects the “value positioning” of the site responding to the loss leader pricing.
Set up alerts for your best brands and your company’s name (all variations). If someone complains on Yelp or Google Reviews, BRING THE REVIEW into your site. Manage negative imfomation on your turf, not theirs. Thank the person with the complaint and be appreciative of the feedback, but don’t agree unless they are just dead right and you’ve already changed the issue.
I wrote a 2-part series for SmallRivers, the Paper.li team, about how to handle negative social feedback:
5 Social Media Marketing Safety Tips: Part 1
5 Social Media Marketing Safety Tips: Part 2
Another related post is “Turn Negative Reviews Into Money”
Social Marketing Holiday Tip #7: Tell A Story
Since everyone is going to be shouting FREE SHIPPING and SALE, telling a story will make your social media marketing stand out in a noisy crowd. What is your theme for the holidays? If you are my friends at Moon-Audio are you using music to tell your promotion story? If you are Vestique, a women’s apparel store, and you are social media champions, are you sharing wish lists, creating unique bundles and and telling the story of this fall’s best fashions?
Find the umbrella theme, the theme that unites all your disparate holiday sales efforts, and you will make more money this year than last. You will make more money than those who scream SALE with no connection to anything their customers care about. We buy with emotion and justify with logic, so don’t forget to provide and share both emotion and logic this holiday selling season.
Find great storytelling tips on Karen Dietz’s “Just Story It” feed on Scoop.it
Social Marketing Holiday Tip #8: Connect to Something Bigger
Every company is changing the world in some meaningful way. The annual Holiday season is an important time to share how your company changes the world. If, like Atlantic BT, you do work that is similar to building homes and you have a family connection with Habitat for Humanity, then making sure something you are doing in 4Q reinforces the connection to Habitat is a good marketing idea.
We are NOT suggesting using the holidays to manipulate. Don’t do things you aren’t already doing, since doing so will be inauthentic and create the opposite of what you want. We are suggesting if you have a cause near and dear to your company’s heart, make sure to extend your social capital to that cause during the holiday season. Some nonprofits depend on 4Q and the holiday season for a large portion of their operating budget. Somehow and someway, your company is changing the world, is saving the world. Make sure your visitors know you are in this holiday selling season for something more than money, but don’t beat visitors over the head with your “save the world” cause either.
What about Pinterest and Google Plus?
Pinterest is going to be a MONSTER social network. If you aren’t pinning content on Pinterest yet, you should be. If you are and have tips for how to use Pinterest as a tool to help an ecommerce website generate ROI, please be sure to share what is working for you.
Google Plus deserves attention too. Google Plus lives next door to SEO, so creating an engaging presence inside of G+ is a good idea. If you are using G+ to support your ecommerce site, please share your tips and ideas.
I hope these 8 Social Marketing Holiday Sales Tips help your holiday sales be something everyone is talking about and even more are buying!