In the hustle of a shortened holiday Memorial Day week, it can be hard enough to find Inbox Zero, let alone think strategically about maximizing your social media presence for the rest of the year. And given that it’s nearly 90 degrees on an early June day in Boulder, it may seem an unnatural time to think ahead to the holidays. But today we encourage you to do just that.
Building an audience of passionate, loyal, active customers on Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels, as you know, is an evolving effort that takes an investment of time. Gone are the days of hastily throwing together a Facebook page and expecting users to find you; of waiting for the end of the year to scrum for leftover/experimental ad budget to spend on last minute ads; of being confident that merely reposting your latest products/services on Facebook is the best you can do.
It takes time to launch an effective social media promotional campaign - a contest or sweepstakes, for example, that expands your audience, brings followers closer to your brand and finds new customers, too. Crafting creative that delivers a high-impact brand message. Customizing the design to fit your brand and all platforms. Adhering to the regulations of the social media channels and various locales you’ll launch in. Integrating a well-designed campaign across media- social and traditional.
Yes, it can be done incredibly fast, especially in partnership with a savvy partner. But why leave it to the last minute to do something spectacular?
This year we propose taking an Upfront Mentality to your social media promotions. Think of planning your social media marketing like TV ad buyers think of their budgets: They look at the calendar, see what program pillars are going to drive eyeballs to the hottest new shoes, and allocate their investments accordingly. They even have big fancy preview events to celebrate the practice. And they invest heavily in upfronts.
Especially if you’re a retailer, consumer goods or services brand, think about tethering your social media promotions to the signature consumer events of the year. Here are 3 ideas for Upfront-style events that, like next season’s TV schedule to a broadcast planner, can be the pillars of your Social Media Upfronts calendar.
- Father’s Day: While it’s all but too late to get in on the paternal celebration- which doubles as the unofficial start of America’s grilling/camping/boating/outdoor fun season- Dad’s Day is a great illustrator of an event that generates a targeted, promotions-oriented audience. (Mother’s Day is no slouch as a retail bonanza, either. Next year!) Brands like Nautica get the appeal of this special mid-June date and tailor their promotions accordingly. Nautica’s Faces of Father’s Day Contest - submissions are due Friday- is just one example.
- Back to School: Don’t tell the kids, who are just now singing School’s Out for Summer, but retailers are deep into planning for the 2nd biggest commerce season of the year, the magical window of July and August that long ago transcended paper and pencils and became a $21B+ family shopping spree. Given that consumers have more options than ever, and that the lead time to plan a killer Back-To-School promotion is an ideal 6-8 weeks as of today, why not lock in this annual rite as the first big pillar of your Social Media Upfronts schedule?
- Black Friday and Cyber Monday: The traditional red-letter date on the annual retail calendar- and its relatively modern digital cousin- continue their reign as the focal point of the retail promotions year. Allow your brand the next few months to do it right in 2011: figure out what you’re going to promote, design the quintessentially engaging social media campaign, and participate in a shoppers holiday worth nearly $11B on the Friday after Thanksgiving alone.
Scary as it is, the holidays will be here before we know it. As social media auteur Brian Solis is known to say, “the reality is that you get out of social media what you invest in it.” Even in the dynamic, rapid-consumption environments of the social web, it is worth investing the time to design an incredible social media promotion.