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Scrolling through your various feeds, you might think the common link between Christmas and social media is that… it’s everywhere.

Christmas is one of the most social times of year (if not the most), and so obviously it goes hand in hand with social media.

Everyone I know has been sharing photos of their Christmas trees, preparations, meals, drinks, presents pre-unwrap, presents post-unwrap, views from their holiday location, beach etc.

And for brands, it’s a common “trend” to cash in on, by posting caring or humorous Christmas messages.

That’s not the common element I’m talking about though…

What do Christmas and social media have in common? Giving!

As indicated in the title, I’m approaching this from a business and marketing perspective, so work with me here…

Why is my business using social media?

It’s stocktake time, and a good time to take a step back and check why – as a business – you are using social media in the first place.

Hopefully, it’s along the lines of…

  • To better reach my customers and potential customers
  • To engage my customers and potential customers
  • To better communicate with my customers
  • To better understand my customers
  • To stand out from my competitors, by having a stronger, more engaging presence

and so on. All with the end goal of doing more, and better business.

Why would my customers want to engage and interact with my business on social media?

As mentioned above, people generally get involved with social media to stay connected and share with their family and friends. Not primarily brands.

There are some brands that people just love. Brands that have established personalities, communities and people want to show their support for. In fact, they may even see the brand as an extension or expression of their own personality.

Other brands may need to work a little harder. And this is where the “giving” part comes in.

You’ve got to give them a reason to like/follow/comment/connect with your brand. Let them know what they will get out of the relationship.

Why would I “give” something away to my customers?

As a business, why on earth would you “give” something away to your customers online?

For exactly the same reasons as bricks and mortar businesses give away real-life samples and resources…

  • To stand out from your competition; especially if you’re one of the first in your industry to give something away
  • To get attention from potential customers; people love freebies!
  • To demonstrate your expertise; giving them a tempting taste of what you can do
  • To demonstrate your brand personality; your give away may include an indication of how you do business, and if it resonates with a potential customer… voila!

And I’m not saying that “it’s better to give than to receive”. In this case, you are giving something away with the aim of receiving business in return.

What could my business “give” to my customers?

Now, we’re all “in business” to make money, otherwise, you may as well be a not-for-profit or charity (who still need to think about how they can engage their target audiences using social media though).

So I’m certainly not recommending you give away your products and services, and lose money.

There’s a whole stack of things you can “give away” that support your core products and services.

The three main types I recommend you consider are:

Special offers and discounts

Studies show that one of the primary reasons people “like” or “follow” a brand on social media is to get discounts.

Now as I said above, this shouldn’t be at a loss to your business, but it can be a great way of attracting new business, customers who may not normally buy from you, new customers that may become repeat customers, and generally getting attention.

You need to make sure it’s an offer that your business is comfortable with financially, and can support with the same high level of service and quality that you would offer a full paying customer. Otherwise, this can have negative implications on how your customers feel about your brand. And negativity can spread very quickly on social media…

Your offer might be:

  • First X number of people
  • $X or X% off
  • Buy 1 get 1 free (or other variations)
  • A discount for buying 2, or with a friend (great for sharing the offer)

etc. Make sure you make the offer details clear as well, such as:

  • How long the offer is valid for (e.g. a particular amount of time, or until the first X offers are claimed)
  • Exactly what the offer includes
  • Any terms and conditions
  • When it needs to be redeemed by

etc. If in doubt, get a second opinion or check with a lawyer.

Here are a few examples of online offers that weren’t considered properly:

Tips and advice

Tips and advice are a great way of demonstrating a business’s expertise and giving a “taste” of your brand and personality.

Getting started with relevant tips and advice can be as simple as thinking of the top ten things your current customers ask about your products and services, or what you know their key issues are.

You may even post an update asking your community what they want to know about your product/s or service/s and then simply provide the answers. It’s good to have back up or prompts just in case you have a shy or inactive audience though.

This may already be covered in your “frequently asked questions”, and so can be posted every so often, or when relevant.

These make for great content updates that are relevant to your business and target audience.

For example, if you’re a butcher, you might offer advice on how to keep Christmas ham fresher for longer by using a ham bag.

Relevant resources

Creating your own original resources to give away will generally take more time, but may have better results, as such original content will really show off your business’s expertise and brand personality.

With give away resources, the sky really is the limit. The key though is creating resources that:

  • Are related to your product or service, but are not your product or service
  • Are useful and relevant to your target audience
  • Can be repurposed by the business (see more below)

Creating these resources can also have search engine optimisation benefits, which again can contribute to reaching a wider audience and increasing business.

For example, if you’re a fruit and vegetable shop, you could create a useful list of what fruit and vegetables are in season. Share this on your Facebook Page for your community to download, and use when shopping to ensure they get the best quality produce.

Or you might share recipes that feature products that you sell (and is in season). You could share an “in season” recipe a week, allowing users to collect the set, or release them in a collection at the end of the season.

If you’re a clothing retailer, you could create a sizing guide chart, where the user can complete all of their sizes, favourite colours etc, and give it to their partner, friend or family member who wants to buy them clothes.

To make it worth your while, consider how you can repurpose such resources. For example, don’t just make something usable online only. Make a print quality version as well (or have the assets available too) so that you can have it printed to include in packages, or shopping bags, or for events etc.

And make sure that the resource follows your brand guidelines, and includes contact details, digital and social media links etc. This way, if it is printed, or seen out of its original context it can be tracked back to your brand and business.

How can I give away my giveaways?

Again, there’s a swag of options for this, and they’ll depend on the give away itself, the timing, and how it fits into your overall content strategy.

Options include:

  • Simple Facebook or Twitter updates
  • An image or graphic, shared on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest etc
  • A new page on your website or post on your blog (that can then be shared through your social channels)
  • A video on YouTube or Vimeo (that can then be shared on your website and/or social channels)
  • A PDF or other file download (that can then be shared on your website and/or social channels)

And remember to pace yourself.

Content marketing takes a lot of time and effort, so don’t provide one big give away then have nothing else left. Plan for what you can offer on a daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly basis. Then make sure you fill in the between times with other relevant content updates.

How do I know what’s working?

With any digital marketing initiative, it’s important to measure it and learn from any results to refine future activities.

With whatever it is that you’re “giving away” take the time to look back (sooner rather than later) and assess what was well received by the audience and any feedback you may have gotten.

  • For an offer or discount, this may be a matter of measuring how many were claimed, and how many have been redeemed.
  • For a tip or piece of advice, did it get any likes, retweets, shares, comments or other feedback?
  • For resources, use your analytics (e.g. Google Analytics event or goals tracking) to measure the number of downloads or page views, and where those visitors came from, and any other feedback you may have received from it.

Tis the season to be giving…

Keeping your audience engaged is one of the hardest parts of being involved with social media as a business.

It’s a delicate art of balancing what they want, with what you need. But if you take the time to listen to them, think about what you can offer and what you want to get out of it, it can be very rewarding for everyone.

So in the spirit of Christmas, and to practice what I’m preaching, I’m delighted to give you a resource I’ve created!

I’ve collated the required social media channel image sizes for Facebook Pages, Twitter accounts, LinkedIn company pages, and YouTube channels.

You can see the blog post here, and there’s a nifty PDF download of it at the base.

I’ld love to hear about your give away ideas in the comments…

Merry Christmas!

Image edited from original found at deviantART.

Erica Stacey

Erica is a Google Analytics and Google Ads certified professional, so you’re in qualified hands. Erica has had over a decade of experience – working for agencies and a wide range of clients – in digital and social media marketing strategy, website development, search engine optimisation (SEO) and marketing (SEM), content marketing, inbound marketing, online advertising and so much more. A professional in the field of design, branding and marketing, she is a trusted name in the South Australian and online community to help an array of businesses sort out and achieve their marketing objectives.

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