Consumer shopping behaviours have drastically changed over the last eight months, with 32% of Australians demanding more online shopping and cashless payments as part of the “new normal”. People are staying home more, visiting city-centres less and spending 30% more time online. This brings with it a whole new set of challenges for the majority of retailers yet to catch up with their customers’ turn to digital.
With concerns of a come-and-go recession, lingering lockdowns and fizzling government subsidies, brands have the opportunity to rethink the way they communicate and interact with their audience over this Holiday season in order to maximise sales during what has previously been their key sales period.
To help businesses navigate this new territory, independent social media agency, L&A Social, have collated their top 5 tips for surviving the festive season through the power of social media.
Be the catalyst for connection
In a recent social media census by L&A Social, 60% of Australians said that social media platforms help them feel more connected to their family, friends and community. So it’s no surprise that over the course of the pandemic, there was a 30% increase in the usage of social media as people turned their physical connections into virtual ones.
Founder and CEO of L&A Social, Gina Lednyak, says that in a time where we are so socially distant, brands now have the opportunity to help their customers connect and be together again through digital.
“Live streams are an easy, cost-effective way of connecting people to their community and making them feel generally more connected. Whether you’re hosting a virtual wine tasting or answering customer queries, being on a live video with your fans adds a face to your brand and helps build affinity and deeper connection.”
“Setting up a dedicated Facebook group can also help facilitate conversations not only between you and your customers, but between your customers and each other, as they share tips, reviews and tutorials on how to best use your product or service.”
“There is even the option to create a closed Facebook group where users request to enter, which creates a stronger sense of community and curation, helping people feel more valued. These groups also generally make users feel more comfortable and willing to share as it’s more of a close-knit community.”
Simplify the customer journey
People have become more hesitant to commute to big shopping districts or be in crowded spaces, forcing them to make their purchases online. For many, this will be their first online Christmas, with an influx of new online shoppers particularly amongst Gen X and Boomers (up 25%), giving brands a new opportunity to connect.
However, research from Facebook shows that of late, 73% of Gen X and Boomers have experienced problems with their online shopping, and it’s up to brands to relieve those pain points by creating a friction-free mobile experience.
“Facebook Catalogues and Instagram Shops act as immersive storefronts, so that customers can browse and purchase your products without ever having to leave their social media platforms! This is vital, particularly for non-digital natives who often get frustrated and drop off the sales journey when taken to new windows or apps just to make a simple purchase,” Gina says.
Gina also recommends implementing a chatbot through your website or Facebook to help manage any customer queries throughout the peak period, as this eliminates the risk of losing a potential customer due to delayed responses. It also makes the shopping experience more fulfilling for the customer and is likely to lead them further down the sales funnel.
Help them treat themselves
With Facebook stating 50% of holiday shoppers search for gifts for themselves during the Christmas period, it’s the perfect time for brands to hop on board and make that self-love journey a little easier. However, Gina says that beyond discounts and promotions, brands need to work a little harder to make customers feel involved with a product.
“Augmented reality filters are a great way of letting your customers try before they buy, particularly if you’re in the makeup or retail industry. They also have the added advantage of brand awareness and organic reach, as your followers share the filter onto their own profiles!”
Interactive advent calendars are another fantastic way of rewarding fans, and provide an incentive for people to purchase, particularly if the offers in the advent calendar are valid for a limited time only. If you’re a small business that doesn’t have the technical means to create an advent calendar, you can apply the same concept to your Instagram stories by simply placing a sticker over a coupon code, and encouraging your audience to ‘tap to reveal’ their prize.
“It’s all about finding unique ways to deliver small wins to your customers that make them feel mighty.”
According to L&A Social’s Census, 75% of social media users surveyed say that they are more likely to follow a brand that posts quality content that is relevant to them, with 62% craving brands that entertain them. For brands to add to this during the holiday season is as simple as creating content that is engaging, adds value or quite simply puts a smile on someone’s face. Think: funny skits on Instagram Reels, trends and challenges on TikTok or viral threads on Twitter.
“Beyond fun and creative content, always think of ways you can bring a little light to people’s lives. For instance, are there any charities that strongly align with your values? How can your brand and your followers support them through a social media campaign?” Gina says.
“This helps your customers see that by simply being a part of your social community, they’re able to add to the greater good of the world.”
Have a contingency plan
In times of uncertainty, a back-up plan is essential to ensure that both your business and your customers are virtually unaffected by any changes to potential restrictions or legislation. Gina suggests strategies such as geo-targeted content, whereby your ads are only aimed at those in specific locations to avoid any insensitive messaging.
“It’s also very useful to have a bank of evergreen photos and videos which are COVID-considerate. In other words, they show few people and have a very strong focus on products so that no matter what the lockdown measures may be, you’ll still be able to post content and keep your audience updated.”
This Christmas will be like no other, and even if you aren’t planning on any big social media activations, remember that simply having a share of voice online can have a huge impact on your overall sales, with 54% of people believing that having a social presence is important, even if the brand is only available to purchase in store. The simple act of having an Instagram or Facebook profile that posts consistent, engaging content, allows you to build trust and a connection with your customers – the most valuable asset through these tough times.
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