How Social Networks, Influencers, and Other Marketing Channels Impact the Holiday Shopping Season

by Joe Martin

posted on 12-02-2016

Thanksgiving has come and gone. The turkey has been eaten, and the stuffing has grown cold, so we now turn our attention to Christmas. With the holiday shopping season upon us, where do you turn for gift-giving ideas? Someone in your family? A magazine? The giant newspaper, full of ads, you receive on Thanksgiving Day? According to statistics compiled by Tap Influence (Ogilvy Cannes, 2014), nearly 8 out of 10 consumers will turn to social networks for holiday-shopping guidance, and 1 in 2 say they will harness recommendations from influencers to help them make their purchase decisions.

A large portion of consumers turn to social networks and influencers to help them decide what gifts will make the cut on their holiday shopping lists. Here’s how businesses can harness these and other marketing channels to achieve success this holiday season.

1. External Influencers
This group has a highly engaged audience and provides great access to consumers in various sectors.

Retail Fashion
A strong group of fashion influencers is popping up, but Chiara Ferragni (@chiaraFerragni), Aimee Song (@aimeeson), and Wendy Nguyen (@wendynguyen) are three to keep an eye on. They were all named top fashion influencers by Fashionista and have more than five million engaged fans across Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. This group, along with others, is the new way to catalog. Forget direct mail — if you want the new generation of consumers to buy your product, then you need to connect with these influencers.

Business 2 Business (B2B)
Even B2B companies jump in on the holiday shopping madness by releasing content about shopping or marketing as a way to engage potential customers. It’s also a great time to publish content on 2017 industry outlooks. Brian Fanzo (@isocialfanz), Daniel Newman (@danielnewmanUV), and Gary Vee (@garyvee) all publish consistently great work on social networks and on their blogs regarding the future of work and technology. Gary recently wrote a great piece discussing why influencer matters more than numbers.

2. Internal Influencers
According to a survey from Experticity, 94 percent of retail associates inform their families and friends about deals at their stores. Almost one-half say that they have up to 10 conversations each week about these products. Walmart alone employs 1.5 million people in its 5,000 US stores. Marsha Collier said, in a recent blog post, “Your employees are the face of your company. They can also be valuable promoters for your message, why not try a new way of return on human investment? Need additional WOM? Your employees are first in line to help, just ask them.”

3. Social Media
Along with regular promotions on social channels, social listening can help predict what products will be hot sellers this season. You could also look to follow the REI model — #Optoutside has been hugely successful in promoting the REI brand from both an external and internal perspective.

4. Email
According to Adobe Digital Insights, email accounted for nearly 20 percent of sales on Black Friday. It may be contained to just a single day or time period, but email continues to be a steady drumbeat of content to keep your company/product top-of-mind for consumers.

Bottom Line
We are continuing to move along a generational shift in marketing in which people don’t want to be marketed to, but rather influenced by others who they trust — whether that is your social-media friends or an influencer, harnessing the changes in social and marketing will help to make the season bright.

Topics: Trends & Research