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BusinessColumnistsJamie Herzlich

Firms focus on social media to drive holiday sales

A Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad

A Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad in Philadelphia on May 16, 2012. Credit: AP

It’s the season for marketers and retailers to bombard social media with deals and offers.

But with all the holiday overload across multiple media platforms, standing out is key.

According to research, consumers share more posts, photos and videos during the holidays than at other times of the year. Leveraging that increased activity is critical to engaging consumers.

Advertisers this year will be shifting a greater percentage of their holiday marketing budgets to digital advertising, paid social media and social commerce (that is, pushing e-commerce sales over social media), says Nicole Larrauri, president of EGC Group, a marketing and digital services firm with offices in Melville and Manhattan.

In the past, most marketers allocated 20 percent to 30 percent of their budgets to this, but this year it’s between 50 percent and 70 percent, Larrauri says.

“It’s really a result of the shift of how consumers want to interact with brands and the result of new products that companies like Facebook are making available,” she says.

For example, this year Facebook announced Local Awareness Ads, which use advanced location targeting to reach users based on where they are at that moment, rather than the location they list in their profiles, she notes.

Facebook and Instagram will continue to be dominant players. That’s why Anne Marie Esposito, founder of Sparklefly Candle Company Inc. in Selden, is harnessing both.

She’s found success hosting virtual “parties” on Facebook and recently collaborated with other brands to invite customers to join the party through a Facebook Group page. Customers can find links to purchase products through that page, she says.

Each week she’ll be teaming up with a new brand and cross-promoting the online event, as well as purchasing Facebook and Instagram ads to drive people to the event, says Esposito, who sells handmade, coconut wax candles and scented flameless Sparkle Stones online and in boutiques.

She does a Facebook live video leading up to the event, and one during it.

“I think we’re going to see this year an emergence in live events and live video,” says Jade Furubayashi, brand marketing manager at Seattle-based Simply Measured, which provides analytics to social marketers.

Expect brands to experiment more on Snapchat because of its expansive audience and younger demographic, she says.

“Last year during the holidays Snapchat wasn’t quite where it is today,” Furubayashi says.

Pinterest will continue to be a popular vehicle because of the platform’s visual nature, she says.

Brands will continue to leverage user-generated content and “influencer” marketing, created by partnering with industry thought leaders to drive a brand’s message to a larger audience, Furubayashi says.

For small-business clients, Sonja Bellem, founder of Bennington Brookstone, a Setauket branding and marketing firm, likes to focus on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest. Website Houzz, which is focused on home, garden and design, can also prove advantageous for certain businesses.

Some marketing ideas include creating a board of holiday gift ideas on Pinterest, live streaming on Facebook or posting a video to YouTube of a “good will” holiday event your company is hosting, she says.

Remember to incorporate search terms and keywords so people can find you and the products and services you offer, she suggests. Include hashtags and keywords that might be trending, she says.

Don’t limit keywords to terms you think should be associated with your product, she says.

“Think of their needs and the search terms they might use that could lead them to your door,” Bellem says.

Going mobile

During the previous holiday season, 80 percent of photos, posts and videos on social media were shared on mobile devices.

Source: Facebook IQ


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