Having a rock solid marketing strategy in place during the holiday commotion is a must, especially for retailers. The National Retail Federation (NRF) expects holiday sales to near $682 billion this year, a 3.6%–4% increase in holiday sales from last year.

With such massive revenue opportunities, retailers big and small need to be ready to man their battle stations, especially in the social media war room.

Setting up a social media content calendar to guide communications is table stakes these days (download our free holiday content calendar). Everyone can do it, which means that retailers across the world have plenty of organic and paid content ready to launch throughout the season. (Just think of all the 25% off and “buy one, get one free” deals you’ll be seeing through December 25.)

So, beyond a content calendar, how can retailers be prepared on social media? Here are four tips to improve social media strategy for the holiday season and beyond.


Implement a data strategy.


While retailers may be able to eek by with limited social media data, such as tracking conversion rates from specific posts, a larger data strategy can help inform broader marketing, sales, and service efforts. The first steps to implementing a useful data strategy are to define company goals and identify the most useful data to meet those goals.

In tandem with considering how these goals and data points relate to social media, it’s also important to expand them to other channels across the marketing spectrum. This will help to create a more comprehensive foundation for a data strategy. One crucial part of any data strategy, at the very least, is to be ready to collect a few relevant data points that will help retailers enhance their data-driven decisions moving into 2018.

Check out our
helpful guide to learn more about how to start a data strategy.

According to “The ROI of Social Media Management,” an Altimeter research report in collaboration with Salesforce, “Social business maturity is much higher (2x) among businesses that use Integrated Suites than users of Point Solutions for social media management.” Integrated Suites, in this context, include social media management tools, such as Social Studio, that connect with and support other marketing, sales, and service platforms.

In the above graphic, the average Net Promoter Score and average business (margin) outcomes are higher for companies considered social business leaders. “The most mature social businesses are both more profitable and have more loyal customers compared to social business laggards,” the report says.


2. Think of social media beyond marketing.


In fact, the two most popular business objectives for social media might surprise some marketers: customer service and relationship building.

To explain these rankings, the report says, “This is evidence of the industry’s overall shift to customer experience as a differentiating factor to drive loyalty and advocacy.”


3. Be ready to support customers.


We mentioned above that customer service and relationship building are the two most popular business objectives related to social media. Another one of our recent blogs also touches on this point (see tip #2 in this blog about getting ready for the holidays).

It stands to reason, then, that companies need to be ready to support customers via social media. This means that companies should have a process to handle customer questions, responses, and complaints. With the right social media management tools (see #1 in this list), retailers may not have to spend too much additional money hiring more service agents if they have useful technology to handle a larger number of cases.


4. Invest in social media management tools — and integrate them.


One key part of becoming a mature social business — or a business with a high level of experience with social customer listening and other areas — is identifying and investing in appropriate social media management technology.
Social media isn’t just a marketing tool. “Social platforms are used to enable selling and commerce, recruit employees, and then engage them internally, manage influencer relationships, augment live events, be a source of business intelligence, and of course support customers,” according to “The ROI of Social Media Management.”

No matter how retailers approach social media during the holidays, it’s important to consider both organic and paid approaches — and connect them with other parts of the marketing mix — to maximize effectiveness and the customer experience.

To round out your holiday plans, download our 2017 Guide to Holiday Readiness.