5 Tips for Influencer Marketing During the Holiday Season

Opinion: Run some low-budget tests with non-celebrity, thematic influencers

During the most wonderful time of the year, competition is at its peak imtmphoto/iStock

Believe it or not, it’s beginning to look a lot like … the 2017 holiday season! The upcoming festivities present a huge opportunity to connect and engage with social-media-savvy shoppers without having to shell out all of your silver and gold. In fact, studies show that influencer marketing campaigns, on average, earn $6.85 in earned media value for every $1 of paid media.

But during the most wonderful time of the year, competition is at its peak.

Here are five tips to make sure your efforts don’t get lost in the Santa shuffle.

  1. Plan ahead: If you’re just thinking about the holidays, you’re already behind. Shoppers start making their lists (and checking them twice) very early. The National Retail Federation found that 40 percent of consumers begin their holiday shopping before Halloween. It’s critical to plan ahead to maximize eyeballs, interest and sales—especially since so many holiday wish lists are created by scrolling through Pinterest and Instagram. While the sun is still hot, those in the apparel industry should start previewing the fall’s—and even winter’s—latest fashions; those in the hospitality space should showcase everything pumpkin and gingerbread, etc.
  2. Identify the most impactful influencers: Make sure you set specific goals for the season, and then take the time to research and identify the most impactful influencers with audiences specifically in your target wheelhouse. These are the people who can help you reach those seasonal goals. If you’re short on time, utilize tools that can automate this process. Then focus on creating quality content that will shine as bright as Rudolph’s nose. Be sure to take advantage of trending hashtags—and even create your own when it makes sense.
  3. Capture millennial market share: Millennial shoppers spend about $600 billion each year—and a big chunk of that is during the holiday season. According to a new study by the International Council of Shopping Centers, 92 percent of millennials plan to spend money on holiday gifts in physical stores. Yet the “digital generation” is always online—and scrolling through social media—even when they’re in the store. Make sure you capture millennial market share this season by optimizing—and regularly updating—your brand’s social media pages and engaging with influencers who already have large millennial follower bases. And don’t forget: Make it fun and spread some holiday cheer by offering contests, free shipping and prizes via paid posts and on your own channels.
  4. Pinpoint Pinterest power users: When it comes to finding gift inspiration, consumers choose Pinterest above any other social channel. So, make sure you don’t miss out this season: Get your content in front of Pinterest power users and influencers and let them help you make a splash. Create gift guide boards, make sure your keywords and content are search-engine-optimized, explore Rich Pins and get smart on Interest Feeds to help reach your target audiences.
  5. Don’t blow your holiday budget on celebrity endorsements: Sure, it would be great for Chevy Chase (a.k.a. Clark Griswold) to promote your holiday gifts on Twitter. But unless you have a huge budget or can gamble your holiday sales success (or failure) on one or two paid tweets, it’s better to take a different approach. Run some low-budget tests with non-celebrity, thematic influencers—you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the results. Sure, they may not have the name recognition or celebrity status, but they have legions of loyal followers who are already highly engaged in specific topic areas (fashion, makeup, sports, cooking, etc.) You’ll get a bigger bang for your buck this way. Take Hallmark, for example. Last holiday season, the company sought to promote a new ornament collection and decided to work with non-celebrity, “micro-influencers” who already had the specific audience that Hallmark wanted to target. Each influencer posted pictures of the ornaments with the hashtag #Keepsakeit and a link to the product page—and created substantial buzz around the new Hallmark line, just as people started trimming their trees.

The power of influencer marketing cannot be overstated. According to Hubspot, 71 percent of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on a social media reference. Influencer marketing makes things more personal, more engaging and more authentic.

Don’t get left out in the cold this holiday season. Follow these steps and soon you’ll be wishing it could be Christmas every day.

Victor Ricci is founder and CEO of influencer marketing platform Trend Pie.