Paid Social Christmas
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How to Deliver the Right Message through Paid Social this Christmas

The countdown to Christmas continues and so does iProspect's dedicated series on how to properly execute your brand's campaigns this holiday season. In this blog post, Paid Social specialists Catherine Chappell, Paid Social Account Director, and Kevin Chan, Client Director, answer questions around campaign planning, 2018 trends as well as why brands must still engage with consumers even after 25 December.

1. Why are September and October key months for your channel when it comes to Christmas planning?  

Catherine: According to Facebook IQ, a quarter (24%) of Facebook users said October is an important month for them when it comes to Christmas shopping. Our dedicated team of Paid Social experts work closely with brands so they stay ahead of the curve to ensure all planning is finalised by September so that Q4 plans are ready to launch in October. Additionally, social feeds will become busier and more cluttered the closer it gets to Black Friday, Cyber Monday and last delivery days, so we capitalise on this interest in October to achieve audience penetration and engagement. 

Kevin: Research from Facebook and Twitter revealed that the majority of social media users (30 to 50%) purchase gifts prior to December, increasing each month in the run up to Christmas Day. In the buildup to the Christmas holidays, we see a multitude of seasonal messages from brands as well as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. We also have the unveiling of Christmas ads that are now permanent fixtures in the holiday season.

With all this in mind, brands need to ensure that they are in a good position to compete in a user's social media feed as well as carefully curate publishing schedules. Tactics such as planning in product showcases, deals, offers or just general seasonal messages should all be factored in well in advance. This is so brands can make the most of the commercial opportunities that social provides during Christmas. In addition to this, building a pool of retargetable prospects (by maintaining continual contact with target audiences) will reap dividends when converting engaged audiences into paying customers. 

2. How will 2018 be different to last year in terms of paid social trends?  

Catherine: With retail giants such as Argos offering early 3 for 2 offers and supermarkets hauling out their Christmas stock as soon as the nights draw in, consumers are plunged into the Christmas effect even earlier. Social channels that are predominantly mobile first have also had a hand to play in this. This year, Facebook IQ found that one in five (18%) consumers shifted their shopping habits to mobile devices, so there's opportunity this Christmas for brands to capture a user's attention when they are on the move.

There are two reasons for this growing trend: the ability to discover more online and to shop around to save money. However, as people grow more time poor, this is a massive win for brands who are advertising via social channels to help enable their consumers to have a concentrated user journey with a simple few clicks. Social channels have also focused on this element by enhancing e-commerce capabilities such as product catalogues, retargeting and shoppable ads. 

Kevin: The speed, integration and choice of online tech and ad formats mean that there are plenty of opportunities for brands looking to drive sales during the festive period. Robust retargeting methods, seamless dynamic product catalogue retargeting and shoppable ads all add up to be a powerful combination of tools that retailers have at their disposal. Additionally, if users are delighted with an early shopping experience (particularly influential ones with a high number of followers and fans), then the ripple effect of their repurchases and impact of their social media word of mouth will offer a serious multiplier for advertisers, too. 

3. This is the first Christmas since GDPR legislation took effect. Will this change how Christmas campaigns are run and if so, how do you see campaigns being different?  

Catherine: Whilst GDPR may have had an effect on first-party data in the platforms that brands previously used, it has allowed brands to place importance on consumers who actually want to engage with the brand. Our specialists are starting to see this pay off already with strong results. When it comes to third-party data, this can mean that targeting tactics are limited however this has allowed us to be smarter and work more closely with all parties involved to segment audiences via the use of tech such custom audiences and even broader lookalikes to expand traditional targeting methods. 

Kevin: User data policies have widely been a top priority for brands that are prioritising communication through Paid Social. The introduction of GDPR has, without a doubt, evolved CRM lists in terms of volume. However, the positive outcome is that the users who remain opted-in are fully engaged and any complimentary customer engagement marketing programmes have more clout as a result. In Paid Social, we also have the added capability of being able to prospect new customers with extremely tailored messages with pinpoint accurate targeting. 

4. Why is it important for brands to still reach customers after Christmas Day and into the NY?  

Catherine: Just because the hustle and bustle of Christmas is over, it doesn’t mean that opportunities for brands stop. With most people off from work post-Christmas, it is likely that the majority are conversing with friends and family than on social media. However, our team takes this opportunity to boost sales amongst a brand's customer base. Additionally, Boxing Day sales are happening earlier, so this is the time for brands to focus attention on customers with gift cards to spend 

Kevin: With social media, brands can have a presence, not just to offer consumers relevant products at the right time and place, but also to exist as the “brand’s persona”. In my opinion, social media is really a place like no other in that companies have a place to broadcast and continue to interact with consumers and be part of their lifestyle. This of course pays off in the long-term, as advertisers remain front-of-mind for opportunities round the corner in the calendar, such as the January sales.