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LL Beans popular 12 days of puppies campaign.
Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat, and so are the wallets of retailers.
If your business is on Instagram, you’re guaranteed to be up against some stiff competition for attention as the big brands amp up their campaigns in the battle for that coveted place under the Christmas tree.
At Christmas time, the pressure to be creative and engaging on social media is stronger than ever. Fail to bring your A-game and you’ll be forgotten faster than you can say gift wrap.
But fear not, we’ve scoured Instagram and unearthed some awesome marketing ideas that will help you increase your engagement (and your sales) over the festive season.
So grab yourself a big a cup of eggnog and let’s get stuck in and see what works best this year.
Any business owner who uses Instagram knows the importance of posting engaging content on a regular basis.
In the run-up to Christmas, an advent calendar is a perfect way to get your followers visiting you on a daily basis.
This type of campaign takes a little planning but done right, you should find that it’s more than worth the effort. If you haven’t prepared an advent calendar campaign for this year we recommend to do so for next Christmas, you can find a detailed step by step explanation below.
Step one – Choose your treats.
Decide what you want to give away. Remember that you’re promoting your business. You should offer relevant prizes or discounts to generate maximum excitement among your community.
There are a few different ways you can go about this. You may want to schedule 24 posts and run a separate giveaway for each day for example.
Encouraging your followers to comment every day in the run up to Christmas and putting all those that achieve this into a prize draw is another effective method.
This is usually easier to organise as you only need to have one prize, but it should be something very desirable to get people on board.
You could also combine these two methods and have small daily giveaways and a big prize at the end.
Step two – download 24 unique images (and write posts) for your calendar.
Images are everything on Instagram, so make sure that yours grab people’s attention! Once you have all 24 images you’ll need to craft a short and punchy post to go with each.
Emojis go down well on Instagram so feel free to include those. Don’t forget to describe your prize and make it sound desirable! Your followers need to know what they will get out of commenting.
Asking Christmas-related questions, like how many mince pies will you eat this year? is also a great way to encourage comments.
Step 3 – choose a winner.
If you are giving away daily prizes, make sure to connect with the winner at the end of each day. Otherwise, you’re set until December 24th.
Banana Republic knows that giving back to your community is great for your brand’s reputation. that’s why they ran the above campaign in support of the Humane Society.
Personally, I think they missed a trick – that dog should have been in a Santa hat!
This method is highly effective because not only does it paint your brand in a good light, but it also encourages those warm and fuzzy feelings that make people want to associate with you (and therefore buy from you) in the future.
There are plenty of options here. You could simply make a donation yourself (this is usually done by donating a portion of your profits) or you could collect toys, food or money for a relevant charity.
Here’s another creative charity based campaign from Johnson and Johnson:
For every photo that user’s share, Johnson and Johnson donate $1 to a charity you care about. So far they’ve had more than 4 million submissions!
No matter which option you choose, supporting a charity is always a great marketing tactic during the festive period. Showcase your charitable side on Instagram this Christmas and users are sure to take notice.
3. Run a Christmas content campaign.
This is a total no-brainer as you will get a ton of user-generated content.
Eliciting user-generated content is great for building brand loyalty and increasing your engagement. Starbucks uses this technique every year with its well-known red cup Instagram campaigns.
Users are encouraged to decorate or showcase Starbucks infamous red cup in a creative or interesting way. Images are uploaded using the hashtag #redcupcontest.
The prizes are usually Starbucks gift cards which can be valued anywhere up to $500.
The obvious bonus to this method is that you get a ton of free creative content for your feed Without spending a penny.
To try out this method for yourself, encourage your Instagram audience to create and share content using a branded hashtag. It’s important to have a branded hashtag so that you can easily find the submissions.
It doesn’t have to be something physical like the red cup. You could just ask people to share their opinions or experiences.
Here’s an example of another holiday campaign by Banana Republic in which they cleverly encourage users to share their Christmas confessions:
See how they leave a little hint about a surprise at the end?
Offer a reward, even if it’s not technically a contest, as this will further incentivise your audience to get involved in your campaign and share.
4. Run festive Instagram ads.
Instagram ads were first introduced in November 2016. You can always spot them because they have a sponsored mark and look like this:
If you’re not using Instagram ads already, there’s no time like Christmas to get the baubles rolling.
The competition at this time of year is fierce, and with so many businesses struggling to get seen, you should definitely welcome anything that can Increase your visibility.
So what type of ads should you create?
Well, there are four main options. Photo ads, video ads, carousel ads and Instagram stories ads.
Photo ads are basically targeted image posts.
They look like regular Instagram images but they have a little sponsored label in the top right like in the Peach Truck example above. You can add captions to photo ads just like you can with organic posts.
Try using photo ads to showcase your products and demonstrate how they would make a great gift.
If you can cram your message into a 60-second video, you could kill it with Instagram video ads.
The trick with this method is to get creative. Anything goes when it comes to video, So you can really showcase your brand’s personality and uniqueness.
The more innovative you can be the better. Take a leaf out of retail giant Bloomingdales book. They managed to pack 100 of their products into a single video:
The images circulated at a rapid pace and users were encouraged to take a screenshot to see which gift recommendation they would land on. Video ads perform particularly well on Instagram so this idea was genius and fun!
Carousel ads let you use multiple images or videos in a single ad. This type of ad usually requires the viewer to swipe through, so make sure your content is beautiful, inspiring or interesting or they might not make it to the end!
Here’s a great example of a Christmas Carousel ad on Facebook from homeware company Serena and Lily.
Again, there is a fair bit of scope for creativity. You could set up a reveal, Highlight a step-by-step process or use a panoramic image for extra impact as in the @tescofood example below.
Instagram stories ads.
Did you know that over a quarter of a million people use Instagram stories daily?
Instagram stories is a great advertising option because it allows you to target by reach, video views and conversions.
You can also easily track your ads performance using the insights section of your business profile.
You can launch your campaign through the Ads Manager and Power Editor, which also allow you to view useful metrics.
Unlike your organic stories, your sponsored content will not disappear after 24 hours. You can run your campaign as long as you like, which makes it much easier to tie your ads into whatever objective you’re trying to meet.
You probably already know that Facebook and Instagram are in cahoots. So it will come as no surprise that in order to set up an Instagram ad, you’ll need to go through Facebook business manager.
To set things up you’ll first need to connect your Facebook Page to the business manager. If you’ve never used it before you’ll need to do some setting up.
Once you’ve done that, connect your Facebook ads account to business manager. Then add your Instagram account. You can find a complete guide on how to do all of this here.
Let’s wrap this up (in shiny Christmas paper, obviously).
So Christmas marketers, there you have it. You are now armed with the four very best tactics to kill it on Instagram this Christmas.
Remember, the best Christmas campaigns are creative and well-timed. Be authentic entertaining and engaging and you can’t go wrong.
Before you launch any campaign, make sure to do your research and know your audience. this includes knowing when they are most active on Instagram.
Good luck and Merry Christmas 🙂