For many, the famous John Lewis Christmas advert has become as much a part of Christmas as roast turkey and baubles. Just 24 hours after its launch, this year’s advert starring Buster the Boxer attracted a staggering 28.5 million views, bringing smiles to faces around the nation. Dog charity The Kennel Club even saw searches for the breed rocket 160% as consumers fell in love with the trampolining canine and his human pal Bridget.

If a bouncing dog in a TV ad wasn’t enough, the retail giant also switched gears with its marketing this year, employing the use of social media platform Snapchat. As part of a new tech-fuelled, social-focused strategy, John Lewis enabled consumers to transport themselves into the TV spectacle with a personalised Buster the Boxer filter. It’s perhaps no surprise the retailer has jumped on the Snapchat bandwagon. It’s been well-documented that in the last 12 months, an increasing number of brands (take Coca-Cola, Gatorade, Taco Bell and Amazon as examples) have been shifting their attention to Snapchat thanks to its reach, influence and increasing popularity.

While John Lewis’ use of Snapchat signals the social platform’s arrival as a feasible means to engage consumers, there are other methods that continue to dominate in the race to steal the hearts and minds of consumers in the run up to Christmas. Here we take a look at how brands are exploring different social channels this Christmas and our top tips for those looking to stay ahead in the festive marketing game.

1. Hark the power of Facebook

It’s not just Snapchat that’s bringing festive cheer to consumers worldwide. Facebook, attracting more than 1.7 billion users a day, remains the reigning champ of social media sites. According to recent research we commissioned, 62% of UK retailers see the majority of social media-related Christmas sales conversions through Facebook. Now more than just a place for connecting with friends and sharing updates, Facebook dynamic product ads allow retailers to retarget consumers and promote their products, based on actions shoppers have (or haven’t) taken with a product on your website.

The UK retailers we researched ranked dynamic ads on Facebook and Instagram as one of their top strategies for reaching and converting those all-important sales through social media during the Christmas period. This comes as no surprise as these ads reduce the need to configure thousands of individual ads and brands can reach an immense number of users on a personalised level.

2. Show your personality

Having a strong social presence is valuable for brands looking to increase inbound traffic, brand recognition and improve SEO. Yet, social media also offers the opportunity to interact and connect with new and existing customers. For consumers, its often easy to forget there’s a human behind Facebook and Twitter profiles, people like talking to real people, so make sure your feed talks like a real person – instil some humour, don’t be over-promotional and show you are more than just about the sales. Answer questions, respond to feedback and comment on pictures or tags. Building a relationship with customers will benefit you in the long-term. This rings especially true during the Christmas period. We recently commissioned some research among UK retailers, looking at how they are forming their marketing campaigns to take advantage of the mad rush in the run up to Christmas. This research highlighted how much of an opportunity social media offers, especially at Christmas, with one in 10 mobile sales takes place through social media during the seasonal period.

3. Get in early

Having the right tools for a successful Christmas marketing campaign is only the tip of iceberg for retailers looking to cash in on the opportunities presented by social media. Unless digital marketing plans are finalised long before the festive period begins, retailers run the risk of falling behind competition. And with 26% of UK retailers claiming that Black Friday is their most profitable day in the e-commerce calendar, the shopping phenomenon is too much of an opportunity to miss. Many retailers have recognised this; our research found that 50% of UK retailers started their Christmas campaigns in August or earlier this year in anticipation of the flurry of discount days that precede the 25th December. The age old saying ‘preparation is key to success’ comes into its own here. Take advantage of customers planning their Christmas shopping by building anticipation of upcoming deals and offers well in advance.

The benefits provided by social media marketing, whether it’s Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram, are certainly noticeable during the festive period. Social media can be intimidating for some businesses but it’s proven to generate more sales and brand ambassadors – people who come back time and time again, even after Christmas. By following these simple steps to a strong social presence, you’ll be shelves above the rest this Christmas.


By Mike Shapaker, managing director EMEA at ChannelAdvisor

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