By Matthew Klein

November 28th, 2014

This year will likely see brands take major steps towards real selling on social networks. As you may have heard, Twitter and Facebook have both started testing in-stream social media buy buttons. It’s widely rumored that these buttons will see a more extensive roll-out for this year’s holiday season. 

Here’s what a tweet with a buy button looks like.


It’s a good bet that Facebook and Twitter users will see more buy buttons like this one for the holidays this year and in the future. Facebook and Twitter have both made attempts at in-network selling before, but this year conditions may have aligned for things to really take off.

Beyond social selling directly within feeds, from Black Friday (or maybe Cyber Monday) onward, there will be a big overall increase in promotions and purchasing. And brands will be flooding social channels with information on deals and discounts.

To help you manage the season’s social challenges, here are a few tips for holiday social success.

Find the right mix

Selling and promotions on social media channels should always be balanced, and that doesn’t change for the holidays. Exceptional discounts are meant to be shared, and social media can multiply the reach of your promotions. At the same time, it’s crucial to keep standards high for images and copy, and to vary your mix of content.

People appreciate great deals for the holidays, but a non-stop stream of “x percent off” posts can come off as rote or lacking personality.

Target, a brand we’ve talked about before in terms of their use of holiday imagery, does an outstanding job of mixing their content during the holiday period, pushing their great sales and engaging their customers with non-sales content.

The company’s mix of cute, punchy holiday promotional content like this:

with Christmas tweets that celebrate the holiday without selling, like the one below, is an example to imitate.

Content, however, isn’t the only challenge on social media for the holidays.

Taking care of your customers

The holidays mean more volume, more discounts, and greater expectations from customers, especially on social. This time of year requires a higher level of planning and preparation in terms of customer service. We discussed social customer care for the holidays for the holidays in more detail in an earlier post, but here are a couple of key points:

  • Consider increasing the hours your customer service teams are available: Depending on several factors like your industry and your location, you might need to make people available to customers later, or even offer 24/7 service around the holidays.
  • Give your teams the right tools: Make sure that all mentions of your brand that might need to be dealt with are surfaced to your team, and that you have the tools and procedures in place to get messages that need responses to the right people on your team.
  • Be empathetic: The holidays can be stressful and presents need to arrive on time, so sometimes things can be heated on social channels. Give customer service reps as much power as possible to solve clients problems, especially over the holidays.

Pay attention to your tone

If getting the right tone of voice on social media is difficult through most of the year, it becomes even trickier during the holidays. The holidays are meaningful for a lot of people, which means they also bring plenty of potential to offend. Things can be especially fraught in the U.S., where both ‘Merry Christmas’ and ‘Happy Holidays’ could make someone mad. 

It makes sense that under these circumstances, some brands seem to be aiming for a voice that is as unobjectionable as possible on social media–sticking to tweets about deals in order to avoid raising any hackles. Cutting all personality out of your communications to avoid doing harm, even if not exactly Grinch-like, seems cheerless. Playing things too safe will, in the end, lead to sounding hollow or worse (see below):




Don’t forget to be human for the holidays

In the last few years, a lot of holiday ad campaigns have seen huge numbers on social media.

For example, it’s now late November, and John Lewis’s new holiday ad, posted on the 6th, already has more than 17.7 million views, 150,000 likes and 150,000 shares.

There’s a bunch of reasons that the campaigns have been doing so well. The holiday spirit is an elusive thing, and it seems like every brand in the world does a Christmas campaign. But the ones that succeed don’t do so accidentally–most of them are warm, original, and authentic.

Maybe not every tweet you write will get 17 million views, but the big Christmas campaigns can be an inspiration in terms of finding your voice on social for the holidays. 

I think the holidays are a time to try to make real connections.  For example, Christmas can be the best time to show off the people behind your brand. That could mean anything from giving your customers a platform to share about the holidays, to sharing a company photo (awful Christmas sweaters optional). Or just a genuine message wishing people all the best for the holidays. 


Cover photo credit: Christmas Holly Fir Tree Decoration, Flickr user Markus Spiske

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