In the US, Black Friday, and more recently Cyber Monday, are firmly established dates in the shopping calendar. This phenomenon has slowly crossed the Atlantic, to the point where UK retailers are now providing preview lists of sale products and prices, updated daily, in the countdown to what is fast becoming the nation’s biggest retail weekend.

And in an effort to avoid the brick-and-mortar ‘chaos’, a significant group of savvy shoppers are already planning to take their bargain-hunt online, searching for inspiration, comparing prices and ultimately making a purchase.

Last year, UK shoppers spent approximately £3.3 billion over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend and eMarketer is predicting overall UK retail ecommerce sales to exceed £67bn in 2016. There has also been a 72% year-on-year increase in sales on smartphone devices and as such, retailers and advertisers simply can’t afford to overlook the opportunity to connect with customers via mobile and social channels. But how can businesses make the most of social media this Black Friday and Cyber Monday?

First, a few basic but nonetheless important rules. Consumers on social media have shorter attention spans, so keep content snappy. Also, a lot of them are very loyal to the brands they love, so CRM data is key for targeting and personalising content, further improving campaign performance.

Be creative

Highly visual content is powerful and plays to the strengths of social platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, while carousels work well for showcasing product variety. Don’t be afraid to run experiments. A/B test ad types against one another to see what works best for your brand, making changes in real-time.

Keep messaging concise and timely

Be sure to use various social media platforms to reach users when they’re most receptive to your brand message. Start with driving awareness and engagement by promoting valuable content that’s shareable. Then move consumers further down the funnel using consideration and conversion-led content with strong calls to action to prompt them to act on their purchase intent.

Hone your targeting

Utilise social platforms’ sophisticated targeting capabilities, your own CRM data and data providers’ audience segments. Target users based on their online and offline purchase behaviour with third-party audiences from data providers. These audiences can be synched to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts and activated across your campaigns.

Get your ad format right

Video is one of the most powerful ways to drive awareness of products and services. Snapchat led the way with vertical video, which allows a brand to take up 100% screen share-of-voice. Snapchat users are accustomed to quickly digesting content, so stick to bite-sized short-form videos in Snap Ads. For online sales, use Facebook’s lead ad and Twitter’s lead gen unit to create awareness for a sale and incentivise users to subscribe and receive information.

Ad formats that showcase multiple products and enable storytelling, like carousel ads on Facebook and Instagram and multi-product tweets on Twitter, are very effective. Richer, more immersive in-ad experiences such as Facebook’s canvas ads and Snapchat’s snap ad web view unit enable users to click into a mobile experience that can be completely customised to showcase gift ideas or sale items.

Promoted Pins are huge traffic-drivers, so use keyword targeting to ensure users who are searching and planning on Pinterest find your products. Dynamic ads, which can be used across Facebook and Instagram by retail and travel brands, are the most powerful way to retarget audiences who have previously visited your site. Leverage website behaviour to determine the most relevant ads to serve to retarget, upsell and cross-sell. Facebook recently added the capability to synch in-store product catalogues so products that have sold out are updated and not served to others.

Bid aggressively

Competition will clearly be tough around Black Friday and Cyber Monday. While this period might command a higher premium, you’re also reaching users while they are most receptive to offers – and purchase intent is at its peak. Focus on mobile to drive audience engagement at any time throughout the day, ensuring there is a seamless experience for users shopping on your mobile site as this will have a massive impact on conversion.

Provide a seamless retail experience

Although most users access social media through mobile, keep in mind that when it comes to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, using desktop for ad placement is just as important. Many people will be at work during sales and as such will convert on their computers.

Social media platforms encompass more than just sharing updates with friends and family; they’re also home to visual search, video publishing, real-time events, augmented reality and commerce. And as consumers are actively seeking out products and services on these channels, advertisers should embrace them as a prime opportunity to build awareness and momentum for their brands.


By Milana Saric, client strategy director EMEA at Adaptly


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