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Listen up all you namby-pamby brands out there! October is over and we are t-minus 2 months away from our annual D-Day: The Holiday Season. Sure it might only be fall, and hordes of costumed children just finished arrogantly demanding candy from their neighbors.

Listen up all you namby-pamby brands out there! October is over and we are t-minus 2 months away from our annual D-Day: The Holiday Season. Sure it might only be fall, and hordes of costumed children just finished arrogantly demanding candy from their neighbors. While you were dreaming of pumpkin-spiced everything, Target went ahead and launched an all-out assault for Christmas by showing this ad across the networks. For good reason too, as experts are predicting that the average American shopper will spend just under $750 this holiday season. 

However, there’s no need to panic, SocialToaster is here to help you fight for your share of that $750. We even know of a secret weapon your brand can use, codename: brand ambassadors. 

That’s right. Your secret weapon is, in fact, your personal army of brand ambassadors. Your brand ambassadors have been training all year for this. They’ve been publishing content left and right, amplifying your message and reaching more consumer groups in a week than you could in a year. They’re ready, willing and able to storm the holiday beaches. 

Why are we so confident in the shock-and-awe power of brand ambassadors? Let’s take a stroll back in time to last year’s holiday season. LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It” was everywhere, as were the legions of social media carolers, wassailing their messages to everyone on their social networks. The results and impact was felt throughout the lands. 

The kingdom of Amazon saw that 14.5% of its traffic on Black Friday came directly from social media sites. And it’s not just Amazon that sees new traffic coming in from other sites. According to a March 2012 Nielsen survey, 23% (almost one in four) U.S. adults online say that social networks are what drive them to visit websites. The majority of this traffic driving isn’t coming from advertisements and brand pages either. It’s coming from user-generated content like status updates, tweets and posts.

Social sharing did more than just bring traffic to the brands’ websites. According to a research initiative conducted by Beyond and MBooth, 31% of customers surveyed were prompted to make a purchase based on their online interactions with a brand. In other words, how the brand was presented online positively influenced 31% of its customer base to make a purchase. 

Still need convincing? Let’s bring out the big guns and take a look at the results of another survey by Mr. Youth that analyzed social media’s influence on consumer spending habits of 2011 holiday shoppers.

According to these findings:

  • 66% of social media users who made a Black Friday or Cyber Monday purchase did so as a direct result of social media interaction. 
  • Recommendations made through social media were twice as likely to lead to a purchase.
  • 52% of social media users are willing to pay more for brands they trust. 
  • 36% say that they are more likely to trust a brand with a strong social media presence.

So now that we’ve got your attention, lets take a second to assess your current brand ambassador situation. If you don’t currently have a brand ambassador program, have no fear. The first step is to get one and we have good news! There’s still plenty of time to get a brand ambassador program in place if you start now. You just have to know where to start. If you need assistance, don’t worry, SocialToaster has a few heroes on standby to help you out. 

Once you’ve got your brand ambassadors inline, it’s time to turn your brand ambassador program up a notch for the holiday season. This year is going to be a tough battle. Your brand is going to have to fight for every single dollar it can get it’s meaty hands on. Are your brand ambassadors ready? Here are some battle tips to get you and your brand ambassadors prepared for this year’s all-out social assault. 

Battle Tip #1 – Formulate a content publishing strategy

Napoleon wouldn’t walk into battle without a plan, so why would you choose to go into the holiday season blind? Take the next few weeks to pick the brains of your current brand ambassadors. Conduct an internal audit and see what content is being shared the most. Let your brand ambassadors know that the holidays are a big deal for your brand and ask what type of content they want to share with their social networks. Are they looking for in-depth product reviews, high-res photography, touching consumer stories? Once you’ve identified the type of content your brand ambassadors want, it’s time to ramp up content production. Ensure that your brand ambassadors are well armed for this holiday season.  Remember, you have to create content that your brand ambassadors feel is valuable to their networks, which may require some creativity when you want to talk about the latest item that’s on sale. Make sure your content calendar is balanced between helpful holiday advice and holiday specials to keep your brand ambassadors coming back for more!

Battle Tip #2 – Bring on new recruits

If you’re going to do battle, you need to ensure you have an army large enough to hold their own. Take the next few weeks to shore up your lines and bring in new recruits. If recruitment has never been a priority in your brand ambassador program, do yourself a favor and make it a priority now. The more brand ambassadors you have, the louder your voice and the greater your reach. Do you want to go into battle with a single pea shooter? No, you want to go in guns-a-blazing Rambo style! How do you ramp up recruitment? Tell your online audience. Be sure you’re mentioning it regularly on your social media platforms or in your company blog. If you are currently offering points or an incentive for current ambassadors that recruit a friend, consider upping the stakes a little bit or offering a special holiday discount for ambassadors who recruit 10 friends or more. A small investment in recruitment can go along way to ensure your voice is heard over the holiday clutter.  SocialToaster has seen that with as few as 2,500 brand ambassadors your message can reach up to 1 million social media users! Now that’s reach.

Battle Tip #3 – Promotions, promotions, promotions

You can’t win the holiday war without winning the major battles: Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the last week before Christmas. Each battle represents an opportunity for you to push your brand ambassadors to the limit. But you have to make it worth it so they don’t tune out forever.  You have a lot to share in a compressed amount of time, so be sure you’re give them the motivation they need to be in the field throughout the entire season. Don’t just have one rewards program that spans the entire season, have several that are geared towards specific battles. Want to make a stand on Black Friday? Then create a special promotion just for Black Friday. Publically reward the brand ambassador that wins, then turn right around and hold an even bigger and better contest on Cyber Monday. Also, be sure to make the prize during these promotional pushes truly spectacular. This is no time for $5 off coupons, millions of dollars are at stake. Now is the time to give away cruises and spa weekends. Save those $5 off discounts for peacetime. 

Battle Tip #4 – Start today

Don’t wait any longer than you have to start your holiday assault. Only 6.6% of all shoppers will wait until December to do their shopping. If you think you’re going to rest on your backside and make a last minute blitz to claim your share of holiday spending, you’ll be shaking your head wondering what happened when the final sales numbers come in. Brands need to get started with their messaging sooner rather than later in order to ensure they are capturing their full potential share of the holiday spend.

How is your brand integrating social media into your holiday campaign plans? Got any tips or ideas to share? Join the conversation and leave a comment below. 

Interested in getting started and building your army of brand ambassadors? Contact the SocialToaster team today!

About the Author:

WaltWalt Rampata        Twitter
CMO – SocialToaster
Favorite Holiday: Christmas