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December 10, 2012

‘Tis the Season for a Brand New Social Media Strategy for Your Business

Yes, the holidays are upon us. Whether they have snuck up on you or you have been preparing for holiday sales for months, one thing is clear:

It takes clever planning to stand out to your customers amidst a sea of competition.

Sure, you may have a Facebook page for your business and even a Twitter profile. In fact, it should come as no surprise that social media has been named the top marketing strategy for local businesses by Merchant Circle; 70 percent of small businesses use Facebook for marketing, surpassing the ever-popular search engine Google at 66 percent.

How Social Media Can Boost Holiday Sales for Your Business

In light of these revealing statistics, it may be time to get a handle on your social media strategy before Christmas sales start to soar. Currently, active monthly users on Facebook have totaled nearly 850 million. Twitter is another social media giant that now has 140 million active users that produce 340 million tweets per day.

If you have any hope of improving holiday sales for your business, you have to go where the fish are biting.

With a few simple guidelines, you can fine tune your social media strategy or create a new plan altogether, just in time for the holiday season:

1. Always respond to customers via social media. This may seem like a simple rule of thumb, but if your company doesn’t have a staff member designated to handle social media customer service, you may be shooting yourself in the foot.

Customers are likely to complain or ask questions of major brands and small businesses alike in a neutral environment like social media. Every customer query should be responded to promptly, especially on a public thread. This subtle message will convey to customers that they are valued, reinforcing their trust and loyalty in your brand.

2. Get in the spirit of giving. Consider the fact that most online shoppers can expect to be bombarded with ads, e-mails and discount offers everywhere they turn. To stand out as an online retailer, position yourself as a “giver” instead of a “taker.”

Although customers are on the lookout for hot deals and discounts, you can appeal to your customer base by offering product specials with a percentage donated to a local soup kitchen or similar Christmas charity organization. These charitable discounts can be advertised on your website and via social media to encourage customers to give back with each purchase.

3. Don’t forget a sense of urgency. It’s time to strike while the iron is hot. Social media, e-mail and direct mail marketing campaigns should start early in the holiday season and set clear deadlines to encourage customer action.

Customers are likely to ignore a special offer or put it on the backburner if it is available throughout the month of December. Rotate regular discounts and specials with an advertised deadline to elicit an immediate response in each social marketing campaign.

4. When in doubt, hold a contest. If your brand doesn’t seem to be getting a response in social media, it may be time to pull out the big guns and run a contest.

To gather more attention with viral capacity in social media, the bigger the offer, the better. This may include a $100 to $1,000 gift certificate offered exclusively to Facebook followers or a large item giveaway to the first 20 Twitter followers that respond to your contest tweet.

If the four tips listed above don’t get your blood pumping for the holiday season, consider this: Despite the recent economic slump, online shopping remains strong.

eMarketer reports that 2012 e-commerce holiday sales could reach up to $54.5 billion, making this the perfect time to tweak your social media strategy to get a piece of the pie!

Kevin Gao is the founder and CEO of Comm100 Live Chat, a leading provider of live chat software for business. As a software developer as well as a small business expert, he’s always ambitious to revolutionize the way of online customer service and communication. Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn to find out more about him.