It's game time and the holiday shopping season is upon us – whether you plan to hit the store, or shop online, it's no secret that brands are vying for the attention of the consumer right now. Brands and retailers alike want to capitalize on the next couple of weeks as much as possible with holiday retail sales expected to be about $465.6 billion this year (NRF) and ecommerce up 13% year over year (comScore). But more important than what people are buying is how they are hearing about the hottest gifts this season.
Unless you have been under a rock this past year, you know that Facebook is quickly becoming the defacto platform for bringing awareness to your brand and is helping to drive purchases. We all know that Facebook has an enormous audience and immense popularity, but it's the platform's ability to target at a more granular level that marketers need to quickly get up to speed on. Think about a brand like Nike. One of your many goals this holiday season is to entice people to buy shoes as gifts. But, shoes come in all shapes and sizes – from running sneakers, to high heels, to the big furry boots no one wants to admit they still own. But you don't care about those types of shoes, your goal is to market running shoes, then one way to find more potential buyers is to target not only the fans of New Balance and Asics, but also consumers that are athletic enthusiasts.
Another element of Facebook that marketers can take better advantage of is social recommendations – nothing is more powerful than seeing your friends interact with a brand or a product. And nothing makes you want to try something more than seeing a friend talk about it on Facebook. We've all lurked around at one point or another, clicking through someone's conversation, and noticed someone mention a product they love. Or perhaps they share their newfound love of the product as a status update and it came up in your newsfeed. The obvious next step is to go check it out for yourself. At SocialCode, we see social recommendations as a strong driver in purchasing decisions all the time. In fact, I recently saw a friend mention they purchased a cookbook for their mom through my news feed and knew that was a perfect gift for someone on my list. I ordered the book and happily had it wrapped and ready to go before Thanksgiving (one gift off my list!).
Brands need to consider these sharing capabilities on Facebook, through organic and paid advertising, as the capabilities can really move the needle, especially during the holidays when everyone is trying to find that perfect gift. By advertising on the Facebook platform, brands can ensure that the right people seeing the right message at the right time. They can then take that information and retarget it to those people with a high propensity to use the product.
With these thoughts in mind, here are three tips for brands to consider this holiday season.
#1 – Have specific goals and then organize your advertising campaigns to meet those objectives. For example, is your goal to - drive sales, consideration, or a recipient to ask for the gift? Think about jewelry retailers, they want to run campaigns over the holidays that are geared towards gift recipients, especially women. They would likely want to target females with a high amount of disposable income. And of course, they will want to target those people buying the jewelry for these women – husbands, sons and significant others are always looking for gifts that will please the special females in their lives, and usually need some hints or tips on gift ideas. These would be launched as separate campaigns targeting specific segments with different creative. Facebook gives brands the ability to design campaigns for each audience and learn from the data derived from the campaign.
#2 – Pick the right ad units and align them with your goals. Ad units on Facebook are designed to drive different actions – picking the right one will help brands be more successful over the holiday season. For example, if you want to drive downloads of a product, then consider a CPC ads with out social context; to drive use of an application an app use sponsored story would be the right choice, whereas for community building, brands should select an inline fan ad.
#3 - Take advantage of social suggestions. Brands must think about ways to encourage social sharing during the holiday. If I see my friends are using a application it is extremely powerful. If I know one of my friends likes it, I'm more apt to check it out and like it too, especially if it looks like it could lead me to a good holiday gift.