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If early signs are any indication, the 2017 holiday season will look a lot different than previous holiday seasons for retailers. That has huge implications for the types of marketing campaigns they will run.
What ever happened to Black Friday?
First of all, you’re a lot more likely to hear that “Black Friday is dead” this year. At the end of September, the Washington Post ran a story on a new PWC survey showing that shoppers just aren’t into Black Friday as much as they used to be. Only 35% of shoppers plan to search out bargains on Black Friday this year, down from 51% last year and 59% the year before.
One big culprit, of course, is Amazon. In case you haven’t heard, retailers have been dying left and right because of Amazon. One huge retailer that was seemingly made for Christmas – Toys’R’Us – sadly filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September. Moreover, this summer’s Amazon Prime Day in mid-July was widely heralded as the new Black Friday. So if you’re looking to run a holiday social media marketing campaign around Black Friday, take a step back and re-evaluate your options.
For example, last year, outdoor retailer REI gained momentum for its #optoutside campaign that encourages people to go outside and enjoy nature on Black Friday instead of shopping. The retailer closed its doors on Black Friday, and “forced” all of its employees to stay home and enjoy nature instead. They encouraged the same for their customers. The brilliance of this campaign, of course, is that #optoutside is really just a clever way to get people to buy lots of outdoorsy equipment (a new snowboard!) well before Black Friday.
Social media campaigns calling for “unity”
Secondly, it’s almost a given that we’re going to see more types of social media campaigns this holiday season focused around “unity.” The latest National Anthem controversy has galvanized the nation, so it’s a safe bet that many retailers will take the high road and show how they are trying to bring people together rather than dividing them. The NFL, for example, is now running a “Unity” ad showing huge ball players hugging each other and helping each other up from the ground after a big hit.
If that’s a bit too political for you, opt for something safe, along the lines of traditional Coca-Cola “peace on earth” ad imagery. Or you could take the approach that British retailer John Lewis took during 2015 – they created a holiday campaign around “lonely senior citizens” and encouraged shoppers to show their love to older members of their family (or even complete strangers) who might be alone during the holidays.
Social media holiday classics
That being said, there are plenty of social media holiday classics that can be rolled out around the holidays:
- Asking fans and shoppers to share holiday-themed photos on Instagram with a brand-centric hashtag
- Promoting holiday gift guides across social media
- Posting holiday giveaway contests on Facebook or Twitter
And, of course, humor is always a big hit around the holidays. If you’re a hospitality or travel brand, think about ways that you can tap into the funny little things that happen when you visit the in-laws during the holidays. If you’re a fashion brand, tap into all the jokes about “ugly sweaters.” If you’re a food or healthy lifestyle brand, tap into the humor around silly holiday foods that everybody eats, but that everybody hates (yes, fruitcake, we’re looking at you).
The important thing to keep in mind, of course, is that it’s best to start as soon as possible in putting together a holiday social media campaign. You want to make sure you have plenty of momentum heading into November.