Holiday Marketing Campaign Wonders and Blunders

holiday-marketing-inner

The holiday season can be the most wonderful time of the year…IF you’re marketing team is prepared!

Having the right social media campaign during the holiday season can mean the difference between presents or a lump of coal in the company stocking.  Retailers, consumers and marketing departments all feel the tension this time of year as everyone tries to stay on top of demand, trends and of course, the competition.

Because religious holidays are the reason for the season, it is important to be sensitive to the needs and thoughts of consumers.  No one wants to see brands and businesses capitalizing on the occasion and taking advantage of employees’ family time to generate more revenue.

Companies that use the right amount of planning and careful considerations will be able to create holiday marketing campaigns on social media that generate buzz and even get your brand in front of potential customers who may have otherwise missed it.

In a recent Marketing Land column, Alison Zeringue took a look at some of the recent Wonders and Blunders of holiday social media marketing.  Here are a few examples of each:

Wonders

OfficeMax – Elf Yourself

In December 2007, OfficeMax launched a user-generated viral video campaign called “Elf Yourself”.  Visitors of ElfYourself.com were encouraged to upload photos of themselves, friends and family, and even pets, whose faces were then placed on dancing elf bodies.  These videos could then be shared on social media or as e-cards.

This website was able to reach 39 million unique views in December, making it the fastest growing site of the month.  Over the length of the campaign, the site attracted more than 100 million unique views worldwide.

WestJet – Christmas Miracle

This year’s best and fastest growing marketing miracle is the WestJet Christmas Miracle video.  This international airline left no doubt about which of Santa’s lists they should be on this year thanks to a real-time giving project that no one can find fault with.

Fliers were given the opportunity to “talk with Santa” in the terminal of the airport.  Their Christmas wishes were recorded, and when they arrived at the baggage claim of their destination, their luggage was not the only thing on the carousel.  Presents from socks and underwear, children’s toys and even a big-screen television were waiting as well.

In a subsequent blog post, the company ensured that it “wasn’t about branding, it was about you.”

Sephora – SephoraClaus

In 2009, beauty and makeup giant Sephora launched their “SephoraClaus” campaign, asking customers to tweet an item from their holiday wish lists (up to $150) using the hashtag #sephoraclaus.  Sephora then granted a wish to one lucky tweeter each day for 30 days.

Sephora utilized a simple form of entry (tweeting @sephora) and a dedicated hashtag to create a widely visible campaign that generated 50,839 tweets by the end of the month.  Consumers were also talking and tweeting openly about various Sephora products for the entire month, keeping the company in the conversation throughout the holidays.

Blunders

Kmart – Black Friday Crisis Management

Black Friday has become a holiday in and of itself as the major shopping day following Thanksgiving.  In a race to get the most guests through the doors this year, Kmart announced it was going to open earlier on Thanksgiving Day than it ever had in the past.  This is a practice that is occurring across the retail industry, but Kmart was not ready to handle the public outcry.

Critics took to Twitter to vent on the ethics of the decision, and the clearly unprepared Kmart social media team responded rather robotically:

Kmart-Thanksgiving-Twitter-Snafu

The company’s lack of a social media crisis management strategy landed them among Business Insider’s list of 2013 worst social media marketing fails.

AT&T – Never Forget Tweet

Although it’s not a traditional holiday, September 11th is recognized and remembered by Americans annually with reverence.  Similar to religious holidays, consumers are not eager to appreciate a brand’s attempt to commemorate an event like this.

This year, AT&T made a marketing faux pas when they tweeted an image of a smartphone capturing the Twin Tower memorial lights with the text, “Never Forget.”  Many people found the tweet to be opportunistic and distasteful.

With these examples in mind, here are four real life tips for running your own holiday social media marketing campaign that will help you avoid the blunders mentioned above:

1) When using a holiday theme in your marketing, don’t have a pushy sales message unless it’s a coupon.  Consumers are sensitive to overt sales messages during this time of the year.  You should also avoid using any religious figures unless they are appropriate for your company

2) Don’t just set it and forget it.  Check your scheduled content frequently.   Plans can change when unexpected events pop up.  Remember to check back on previously scheduled messages to ensure they are all appropriate.

3) Have a crisis plan in place.  If your campaign could offend anyone, be sure to have a PR professional to avoid saying the wrong thing.

4) If your audience is diverse, consider a charitable campaign.  Rather than a giveaway or deal-centered campaign, be a good corporate citizen during the holiday season.  No one can complain with that!

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