It's Never Too Early to Start Planning Your Holiday Paid Social Media Campaigns

It might only be August, but before you know it, we’ll be entering the most important season for retailers – the holidays. Over the past few years, the holiday frenzy seems to be starting earlier and earlier. Cyber Week sales have inched forward on the calendar, and although some brands have chosen to close on Thanksgiving (in support of employee family time), many others still remain open on the national holiday in order to kick off the annual shopping season. However, don’t be fooled into thinking that just because the main retail sales start in the waning weeks of November, your should hold off on launching your paid social media campaigns until then.

Facebook recently released information about user behavior on Facebook & Instagram during the 2015 holiday season. These insights are crucial to understanding not only how shoppers use social media in their purchase decisions, but also when they use it.  Facebook found that while 45% of last year’s holiday shoppers completed their shopping before Black Friday, 10% of shoppers actually completed all of their shopping in OctoberAccording to U.S. Census research, over $107 billion dollars were spent online during Q4 of last year, which means that October represents an $11 billion opportunity that many marketers missed because they didn’t start their campaigns until later in the season, closer to the dates of the Black Friday sales. It’s also worth noting that October sales have a strong potential to positively affect profit margins since these early-season purchases aren’t usually accompanied by the lower discounts that are offered closer to the actual holidays.

Best Practices For Cyber Week

To ensure that your campaigns are optimized to drive maximum revenue during this key time period, here are a few best practices to consider during Cyber Week:

Pre-Planned Agility: Agility is critical if you want to successfully manage frequent, site-wide offer updates. Though changes are likely being made each day, most retailers know well before hand exactly what those changes will be and when they will go into effect. Create a well-organized content plan around your offers to ensure that buyers always have the most up-to-date information on current sales and incentives. Once offer details are known, schedule the ads in advance to allow adequate time for a thorough QA before the rush of the week begins.

Here is an example creative matrix of how often new creative should be swapped in during a routine holiday campaign.

Include a Sense of Urgency: During the holiday season, brands are competing not only with their direct competitors, but also with any brand trying to earn its share of consumers’ finite holiday spending funds. Creating a sense of urgency can improve conversion rates by making consumers feel they need to make purchase decisions more quickly and “act now!” in order to get the best deal.

Focus on Mobile: While most sales still occur on a desktop, Facebook data indicates that 67% of users start their shopping journey on one device and finish it on a different device or in store. Mobile shoppers are 1.8X more likely to use Facebook to research gift ideas and Instagram for gift inspirations.

Have a Cohesive Cross-Channel Strategy: Taking a holistic approach that encompasses your entire marketing mix can enhance paid social media campaigns during holiday. For example, if there is a TV buy scheduled, ramping up paid social spend during that timeframe will help increase cross-screen frequency. In addition, custom retargeting strategies can be implemented to retarget consumers who reach the site from other channels (i.e. paid search, display, etc) and help close the sale with buyers who are close to purchase.  

Leverage Pinterest: Pinterest, another leading social media platform for retailers, is where users go to plan and shop. In fact, 87% of pinners state that Pinterest has helped lead them to a purchase. In addition, research Pinterest did with Oracle Data Cloud (formerly DataLogix) shows that Pinterest drives both incremental sales and sales lift to existing customers. Including Pinterest in a holiday marketing mix can help you reach buyers when they are in their consideration mindset.


The 2016 holiday shopping period is nearly upon us, and getting ahead of the season with smart, proactive media planning is a crucial part of setting your brand up for success. Using paid social media campaigns early (before the mad rush of sales) as well as throughout the entire shopping period can help drive an increase in sales for both existing customers as well as incremental new buyers.