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Op-Ed: Successful brands on social media this holiday season

Some studies have actually shown that we like some brands as much as we like people, and those positive feelings can be powerful motivators in a world full of choices. Emotion is inherent in the decision-making process anyway, so why not use it?

The holidays offer companies a unique opportunity to score big with hearts and minds because people are uniquely receptive to feel good messages and promotions. Even if you don’t have a big-brand budget, the strategies used by these social-savvy companies can help you ring in the New Year right:

Be a Resource like B&N

This classic bookstore maximized its Twitter visibility with the seasonal #BNGiftTip hashtag. Gifters are encouraged to hit up Barnes & Noble’s feed for hard- and soft-bound gift ideas. The campaign attracts lots of requests for recommendations, encourages social sharing and makes shoppers feel connected to this brand that usually lags way behind rival Amazon. The best part? It didn’t cost the company anything but time, so if you have manpower to invest in interactions in just one social channel consider creating your own ask-and-answer campaign for the holidays.

Be a Content Master like Ketel One Vodka

Rich content drives serious Instagram engagement for this beverage brand, which regularly shares engaging, high quality recipes paired with quality graphics with an upscale feel. The strategy works on two levels – they’re giving something good away for free, which inspires loyalty while also encouraging people to aspire to the Ketel One lifestyle in their December revelries. Make Ketel One vodka’s tactics your own by framing your brand’s offerings as a luxurious part of holiday merrymaking or alternatively, the effective antidote to too much holiday cheer.

Be a Not So Secret Santa like Budweiser

Budweiser’s 2014 #HolidayBuds campaign was so successful because it leveraged the brand’s deep understanding of its customer base — in this case, Millennials. They tapped into the hipster aesthetic and targeted what has been called the loneliest generation with a campaign that asked them to tag old friends they missed. Bud then facilitated reunions for a lucky few, complete with vintage-style crates of beer. Reuniting old friends may not be in your marketing budget but ask yourself what you could offer your best customers this month and then ask them to share their holiday wishes with you n social media for a chance to win it.

Be Extra Available like KLM

Airlines get a lot of negative attention on social media — think mean tweets from the passengers stuck on the tarmac – but few can boast the kind of positive awareness earned by Royal Dutch Airlines (aka KLM). It’s not the company’s holiday strategy in particular, but it’s one that brands (especially retail brands) should consider imitating during the holiday season. Royal Dutch Airlines is committed to answering every customer service query across channels and even includes an estimated response time in its Twitter profile header, which is updated every five minutes.

Your company may not have the time or cash to invest in a year-round social marketing blitz but a time-limited holiday campaign can give your brand a real boost. Remember, customers are looking for you on social media. Win hearts and minds with a merry Christmas and a happy new year, and chances are good new fans will keep listening to your messaging in the warmer months, too.

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