Like clockwork, brands prepare for the holiday season every year. It’s one of the most significant spending periods of the year and can account for 30% of annual retail sales.
Whether buying Black Friday sale products for a gift exchange or supplies for a Christmas family reunion, there’s a lot that shoppers themselves have to plan for. EMarketer forecasts retail sales to rise 3.3% to 1.2 trillion, and e-commerce sales will increase15.5% to 235.6 billion in 2022.
Despite typical high spending rates, inflation and the looming fear of a recession this year are expected to discourage shoppers. The fear doesn’t mean that shoppers won’t be spending on gifts for their loved ones, but we can anticipate that they will be more selective in what brands and products they choose.
So, how do you ensure they will opt for your brand when making decisions? It’s going to come down to your influencer marketing strategies.
The timing of your campaign is everything. There are a lot of events to cover during the holiday season; you will need to hit Thanksgiving, Cyber 5, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve and Resolutions promptly. To create a successful holiday campaign that encapsulates all of the big days, follow this timeline:
June to August
Planning starts in the summer.
While this may seem early, it is vital to begin during this time. According to eMarketer, 56% of US adults began holiday shopping before Thanksgiving weekend, with 28% starting before November. You must gain brand awareness when shoppers begin gift hunting to ensure that you will be at the top of users’ minds when they begin creating their wish lists and shopping.
Begin the process by building a strategy and organizing your goals.
Setting your goals early will help you to determine what your campaign content should include. Whether you’re aiming to build brand awareness, generate sales, or reach a new goal, having your plan ready early will help avoid errors and roadblocks.
Planning a strategy ahead of time will also allow you to boost your creative potential while also reaching your goal. It will help you determine what platforms your content will benefit most from, what content types, and what CTAs to use to achieve your desired outcomes.
The more time your brand has to brainstorm unique ideas, the more likely your content will be unrushed, thoughtful, and stand out from the crowd.
Select and partner with creators ASAP.
As the deadlines to push out holiday campaign content come closer, there becomes a higher demand for slick creator marketing. Forming partnerships early in the planning process will secure creators who resonate with your brand’s message and fit into your niche.
The longer you wait, the more likely talented and high-performing creators will be booked or no longer have time to post at your desired windows.
Partnering with a creator marketing agency as soon as possible is also important from a content creation standpoint. If you manage to get a creator late in the game who can work with your desired window, having a rushed timeline will affect the quality of content they can produce.
Creators, just as anyone else, have busy holiday schedules, often including travel or taking care of their kids while on break. You must give them the right amount of time to think through the content, create it, execute it, and allow time for revisions.
The more time creators have to complete the content, the higher the quality will be.
“The reason you really want to focus on best practices for optimal performance is because Q4 is the noisiest time of the year, most ads are being posted, people’s attentions are really divided, so you want to get through the noise. Not only do you want to break through the algorithm and make sure your post is being seen, but you also want to make sure it’s resonating with your audience. Odds are already stacked against you in terms of performance because it’s the holidays. Layering on rushing creators or contracting them last minute may affect the quality of creators you can get.”
– Shana Santos, Account Director
TIP: Utilize brand ambassadors to make planning in advance more efficient.
Developing a brand ambassador program is cost and time efficient and will make an essential part of your campaign planning move more smoothly. Employing ambassadors also goes beyond creating brand awareness; it can result in better ROI and builds year-round brand loyalty.Obtain optimal rates by starting early.
Prices fluctuate throughout the year and keeping your budget in mind is always a must. Holiday rates run higher than rates during other seasons; if you employ creators promptly, you avoid running into competitive prices during late planning.
This also applies if you are looking to reactivate a creator from an ambassador program, as they will also most likely have increased rates the closer you get to the holidays.
If you plan with cost-efficiency in mind, you will have a larger budget for other areas of the campaign.
TIP: Plan to create and emphasize discounts and loyalty programs.
As mentioned above, inflation may significantly affect your campaign and overall sales. Therefore, you will not only need to have a transparent and empathetic tone when communicating with audiences, but we recommend ramping up money-saving promotions.
If people’s spending money isn’t stretching as far this year, being conscious of it will only help your campaign and brand become more appealing. Consider offering benefits to loyalty members and limited-time-only sales and extending the sales for longer periods than usual.
Make sure to spread the word through your content and write enticing CTAs to establish sufficient awareness before and during the discount’s run.
Don’t forget about YOUR holiday vacation.
It’s important to remember that the holidays are a big time of the year for everyone – even you! Keep in mind that you and many of your colleagues might be taking time off and traveling around this time of year.
If you plan early, you avoid running into issues while you’re away from work!
August to September
During this time, move on to forming your creative briefs and working with your selected creators to begin producing content.
There will be tons of holiday content rolling out in the following months, so you must be able to create content that stands out from the chaos.
How can you combat saturation and predictability and create content that resonates with people?
Happy, heartfelt, and magical messages are always a must during the holidays – it’s what the holidays are all about. However, there are many ways to tap into creativity and messaging beyond the standard joyous go-to’s.
The holidays are fun but can also be stressful for many people. Acknowledge this! Create campaigns that showcase how your brand can be helpful to consumers. Maybe your product can make shoppers’ lives easier. You can accomplish this by creating a gift guide for anxious and tired shoppers or educational how-to content!
Besides being transparent and empathetic with inflation issues, be transparent in other areas of your campaign.
In 2021, supply chain disruptions created problems for retailers and shoppers alike. While eMarketer reports that these issues will not be as harsh as in 2021, there are still issues that have yet to be resolved in 2022.
If this does occur and you find your customers ordering out-of-stock items, communicate openly and honestly with them. That way, their experience with your brand will still be positive despite facing an inconvenient delay.
(This is another reason early campaigns are crucial because even if a product has delayed delivery, it will not affect the consumer as much as it would later into the holiday season.)
Get in the giving spirit for the holidays. Participate in charity events, host giveaways, and leverage do-good activities that your creators do on their own! You can also accomplish this by participating in global generosity movements like Giving Tuesday (November 29).
Setting up good-hearted initiatives proves that your brand does more than sell a product; it can inspire people and lead to positive UGC.
Create content that gives the audience more to do than just tap “like.” There are many other pieces to holiday shopping beyond gift giving; people decorate, cook, entertain, and plan for celebrations. Create content that caters to these experiences. Get people involved by:
- Creating challenges that revolve around activities like decorating and DIY crafts.
- Encouraging users to try the creator’s seasonal recipes.
- Using custom holiday-themed brand filters.
Don’t forget that different cultures celebrate different traditions and holidays. Understanding who your audience is will help you gain knowledge of what traditions they have around the holidays.
Thinking multiculturally when planning your campaign will make it more inclusive and authentic. Some holidays to keep in mind are:Be a hop, skip, and a jump away.
EMarketer reported that 2021 brick-and-mortar sales exceeded their expectations and forecast that sales will increase 0.9% to 1.026 trillion in 2022. This is why targeting your audience geographically this year will be influential.
Many people get gift ideas from creators and find the products in-store! Targeting people who can locate your product in their city is a must if you want your content to influence people’s in-store decisions.
The ability of social media to reach your audience is powerful. Using it to your advantage is a no-brainer; however, picking the right platform for your goals is crucial.
Selecting the right platform will help you target the right people and hit your campaign goals. When you choose your preferred platform, take full advantage of its social commerce features.
Social commerce features will make shopping very effortless for your audience. Utilize some of these features to help your audience and yourself:
- Instagram’s shopping tags or shop from chat feature.
- Instagram Reel’s new features to showcase your products. (For example, the dual camera feature).
- TikTok social commerce and live shopping.
- YouTube creator marketing has product tags and channel storefront links.
- Twitter’s product drop reminders.
- Pinterest influencer idea ads.
October to December
Post that content! October marks the beginning of when you should start releasing content.Don’t let your posts get lost! Consider investing in Paid Social to prevent your content from getting lost in all of the holiday noise. Allocate your budget towards boosting the creators’ content that best achieves the campaign’s objectives. You can ensure a maximized reach through paid social media, and all eyes will be on your content!
“Paid ads are an excellent way to amplify product consideration and purchases while keeping your brand top of mind during a key gift-giving season.”
– Ash Balmaceda, Senior Paid Social Manager
While you can take a breath of fresh post-holiday air after your campaigns conclude in January, the work doesn’t stop here!
Thoroughly analyze your results and key takeaways from all of your holiday campaigns.
Use all your learnings from the 2022 season and apply them to your 2023 campaigns. Macy’s, for example, utilized key takeaways from their Fall ‘21 campaign to strengthen their Fall ‘22 “Always On” campaign. These learnings included contracting high-performing ambassadors, implementing improved paid strategies, adjusting content details, and more.
At Open Influence, we use platforms like Go Prism to analyze competitive insights and discover brand-safe creators. Staying updated on what your competitors do during the holidays is a great tactic to help make more informed decisions while planning your campaigns.
Planning a successful holiday campaign is a long and maybe even daunting process. However, do it right, and it will yield powerful results! Early planning is one of the biggest factors in having a strong holiday campaign, and it’s easy with a powerhouse influencer marketing agency.
Here are some holiday campaigns to get you inspired:
Macy’s “Always-On” Fall Campaign leveraged brand ambassadors to create a flow of content from Fall to Winter. Its program covered all major holidays from Thanksgiving to New Year’s and featured posts on both Instagram and TikTok. The highly diverse group of creators showed their audience gifting ideas, Cyber Monday shopping hauls, holiday party outfit ideas, and more!
@brookiebarry Surprising @loganraehill with a holiday gift from @macys 🎁❤️ #MacysGiftTok #MacysPartner #AD ♬ original sound – Brooke Barry
Nolet’s Gin took a classy and helpful approach to its holiday campaign. Foodie and lifestyle creators took to Instagram to showcase sleek content and provide their audiences with cocktail recipes using Nolet’s Gin to wow their guests at their holiday celebrations.
AT&T celebrated the holidays in blue with a diverse group of creators. AT&T didn’t only celebrate Christmas with their holiday-themed posts, but they also celebrated Three King’s Day to further connect with their audience. The creator’s emphasized connecting with family during the holidays and the AT&T deals that would help make it possible.
@twotrends #Ad Staying connected for the holidays with our family abroad thanks to @AT&T 💙#ATiyATi #ATTInsider ♬ original sound – Espe & Sebas