It’s a slippery slope from the tail end of summer into pumpkin spice latte season, then straight on to caroling and counting down at midnight. For marketers, the rapid-fire pace of fall and winter holidays can be particularly overwhelming to keep up with. But running social media campaigns during this hectic time of year can also have huge payoffs as consumer spending increases throughout the season.

Whether you’ve just taken a breath after a last-minute Halloween campaign or you’re planning ahead for a New Year’s roll-out, below are some key social media tips to keep your holiday campaigns on track — plus a few brands to draw inspiration from.

1. Automate, Automate, Automate

Man Typing Laptop Stock Photo
Cropped shot of a man’s hands typing on a laptop that is on a wooden desk with a mug of coffee alongside by marvent

Your social audience likely takes a day or two of vacation before the holidays to make time for shopping and decorating. And odds are, your social media team probably does too! Don’t get stuck in a bind when you suddenly realize the entire marketing team is out of the office during a core campaign time. Use social automation tools like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule your most important posts ahead of time, and enjoy the extra time to have a second slice of pumpkin pie.

2. Do Better Than #BadSantaPhotos

Cute Kitten Stock Photo
Cute little ginger kitten wearing warm knitted sweater is sleeping with pet toy on white carpet by Alena Ozerova

There’s no doubt that visuals are the key to social success. Our Creative Trends report showed that on Twitter alone, there was a 28% bump in retweets on posts with video, and a 35% bump in retweets on posts with images. Maximize the impact of your holiday images by going beyond expected photos of cornucopias and snowmen to show something eye-catching and surprising.

3. Customize Your Channels

Not all social channels are created equal. Just because you have a social campaign with a cohesive hashtag doesn’t mean the same rules can apply across the board. Take into account the unique aspects of each channel, and play to those strengths for maximum engagement. Twitter campaigns can leverage retweets, campaigns on Facebook feature CTAs to share, and Instagram campaigns encourage comments. Choose the behavior that feels most intuitive to each platform and be sure to have clear and concise instructions for users based on their native environment.

4. Get in the Spirit of Giving

Gift Stock Photo
Woman holding modern Christmas present gift by Peter Bernik

The holidays are prime time for beefing up the bottom line, but they can also be used to build some goodwill and brand credibility. There’s no time like the holidays to be extra generous with discounts, promotions, and freebies for loyal shoppers. Offering even small discounts helps keep you competitive as users comparison shop. If you really want to stand out from the crowd (and feel good doing it), run a promotion that benefits a local charity by donating products or a percentage of sales.

5. Rise Above the Noise

The Halloween to New Year’s marathon is a time when social media is simply flooded with brand content. Consider using a small but targeted advertising campaign to make sure your social content gets in front of the audiences who really matter to you. Optimize campaigns for both initial engagement (clicks to your website or social comments/shares) as well as sales-based ROI to get the most out of your advertising dollars.

Now let’s look at a few brands who have raised the bar for holiday social campaigns.

Falling for Fall: @TheRealPSL

The leagues of Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte enthusiasts are notoriously obsessed with the fall drink. Last year, Starbucks brought the beloved beverage to (social) life by launching @TheRealPSL on Twitter, attracting more than 121,000 followers to date. The fan favorite also spun off into a PSL Tumblr where users can submit “#PSL photos, fall findings, and whatever other spicy little nuggets you find while internetting.”

Halloween Treats: Oreo Laboratorium


Last year the familiar cookie brand created a series of short videos showcasing a host of friendly “nomster” creations created in the mad scientist-style Oreo Laboratorium (#OreoLab). Fans of the brand were encouraged to go to Oreo’s Facebook page and suggest names for the nomsters, but the fun didn’t stop there. After selecting winning submissions each day, Oreo created new custom digital content to announce the chosen name and recognize the fan who submitted it.

Holiday Shopping: Best Buy Hinting Season

Advertisers take a lot of flak for starting the holiday shopping promotions earlier and earlier each year. Best Buy decided to re-position this early fall marketing by defining a whole new time of year: #HintingSeason. Instead of overtly pushing social media fans to start purchasing gifts, they opted to help their fans “hint” to friends and family members what they’d like to receive for the upcoming holidays. Socially shareable content highlighted the latest gaming consoles and tech gadgets, with calls to action that encouraged sharing across multiple social channels.

The inaugural Hinting Season was a success for Best Buy, racking up 660 million impressions, and increasing online channel sales by 13.4%.

How are you planning to roll out campaigns this season? Share in the comments below!

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Curated Holiday Stock Photo and Vector Collections

Top image: Feet in woollen socks by the Christmas fireplace by AlexMaster