While it may seem like I might be jumping the gun a bit to some, the holidays are here. If you’re not ready, you want to get ready fast.
The holidays are often a period of exceptionally high revenue for a lot of businesses, regardless of industry, and you don’t want to miss out on any of it by not being prepared.
Social media marketing is an essential part of holiday marketing preparation, and that includes Instagram.
User interaction with brands on Instagram is still high, and the feeling of transparency it offers users makes it an ideal platform for holiday marketing.
Today we’re going to take a look at how to prepare your Instagram for the holidays so you can get started right away.
1. Have an Inventory of Holiday Themed Content
This seems like such an obvious statement, but it’s where I see businesses drowning every single year. The reason is simple: we know we’ll need a lot of holiday images and posts, but we completely forget that we’ll probably be too busy to continue to create them once the holidays start rearing full force.
That means that before everything kicks off, you should have a firm idea about:
- Which products you want to push this holiday season
- What offers and sales you want to use (and when)
- How you want to encourage customers to purchase
Once you’ve got this information squared away, you can create a library of holiday images that you’ll share on social media, and have a rough idea of when you want to post what. This will help you increase the variety of what you’re posting, which can lead to better results.
2. Choose Questions to Optimize UGC
Asking about holiday traditions or holiday themed questions is one of the best ways to get massive engagement quickly; this strategy might even be more effect during the holidays than any other time of year because we all hold our holiday traditions so dear.
You can even go with the “This or That” questions, asking questions like “Which do you prefer: stocking presents or those under the tree/ turkey or ham/ real tree or fake tree/ eggnog vs apple cider/ Black Friday or Cyber Monday?”
You can use these questions to feature your products or to boost UGC. If you ask users to take a picture of their holiday traditions via the “this or that” format, you’re likely to get a ton of engagement and a huge store of user created content that you can use to leverage additional benefits for the brand. Remind users to always share their content with a specific hashtag that your business is using.
3. Use Scheduling Software
The last thing you want to be worrying about is making sure you or someone on your staff is available at 3 in the afternoon, or whenever your users’ peak activity time is, to upload your picture for maximum engagement. That’s exhausting enough to manage even when you don’t have Black Friday sales and gift giving looming around the corner.
I typically recommend that businesses use scheduling software to create and schedule posts ahead of time, but I think that it’s essential in our peak busy season. I’ve worked in retail, hospitality, publishing, and now marketing consulting & writing, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in—you’re going to be swamped from mid-November to December 26th (and some won’t get to breathe until January 2nd).
Hootsuite (pictured above) is a personal favorite; it’s a great social media managing tool, and it has amazing post scheduling and publishing abilities. You can schedule posts for multiple platforms through Hootsuite, too. Hootsuite is now integrated with AdEspresso, after all, so you know it’s got to be good.
You can use tools like this to create and schedule out posts way in advance. This is an enormous perk come the crazy holiday season.
4. Research Relevant Holiday Hashtags
Hashtags are a powerful tool on Instagram, and they have a few big important uses for brands. Researching holiday-related hashtags ahead of time and planning out your strategies will keep you ahead of the game.
Knowing what holiday hashtags are frequently used can allow you to attach soon-to-be trending hashtags to your posts. This can maximize the visibility and reach of your posts, potentially connecting you with new audience members. This is a major advantage this time of year.
Knowing which hashtags will be used can also help you create your own unique, branded holiday-themed hashtag. You can attach this branded hashtag to all of your posts to generate conversation involving your brand. Get your users to share content with the hashtag to find UGC that you can use later, especially if you’re hosting a holiday themed contest.
Hashtag tracking and research tools like Hashtagify can help you with this.
5. Find a Way to Give Back
Even if we’re dealing with crazy in-laws or great aunts who keep asking us when we’ll ever find someone to marry us, many people have strong sentimental feelings surrounding the holiday season (even if it’s really, really deep down). If you’re able to connect with those feelings in your Instagram post, you can make a big and lasting impression on your followers.
Being involved with your local community carries a lot of weight for small and medium businesses. This is especially true if you actively participate in work for or with a charity. Placing a Toys for Tots donation box or hosting a food drive for holiday meals does your community good; sharing an image of your good deeds both promotes customer involvement and makes you look a little extra good, too. Win-win all around.
6. Prepare for Increases in Ad Costs
The holidays are a time when social media ads are in high demand from advertisers. Instagram Ads already cost a bit more than Facebook Ads, which I often think are worth it for the (on average) high click through and conversation rates they have. While there’s nothing we can do about the holiday increases in ad costs, you should know that they’re coming and plan accordingly.
The holidays for marketers are pretty much already here. If you’re planning on running Instagram Ads in the weeks leading up to Black Friday or Christmas and you haven’t done research via split testing, that needs to happen immediately. Test your audiences, your offers, and your images, and see what sticks. This will help you send out higher performing ads earlier on in the holiday season, getting you better results when they matter and saving you a lot of money with the increased costs.
The holiday season is already here for marketers (and let’s be real, major retailers have been ready since July), and we all need to be taking advantage of these last couple of days or weeks before it hits full force. Knowing how to prepare your Instagram for the holiday season can ensure major boosts in revenue and ROI. With Thanksgiving already rapidly approaching (and that means Black Friday and Cyber Monday!), you want to start marketing prep as soon as possible—starting with your Instagram.
What do you think? How do you prepare your Instagram for the Holidays? Do you run social ads? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!