Put social media to work in the Christmas holidays

Top tips to help small businesses in the UAE thrive on Twitter this festive season.

Here’s some good news for small businesses in the UAE on social media this Christmas: you’re in just the right place to connect with shoppers who are deciding what to buy. More than 50 per cent of Twitter users say that they are directly influenced by content on the site when making a purchase decision. So how can small businesses in the Emirates cut through the noise to make sure they’re noticed? Thankfully, social media is perfect for levelling the playing field among businesses of all sizes.

Recently, Twitter teamed up with the research firm Millward Brown to explore the platform’s role in the shopping process surveying consumers who use the site at least once a month and are involved in holiday shopping.

Our survey found that 69 per cent of users made a holiday purchase directly because of content they saw on Twitter. Shoppers are using the platform as a shopping tool, and this trend is growing. Almost three in 10 of respondents said they were planning to use Twitter for their Christmas shopping this year, while 78 per cent of our consumers said they planned to shop smaller retailers this holiday season.

People use social media to discover new information about topics that matter to them, including holiday shopping. Discovery around Christmas shopping happens in a variety of ways for social media users — from seeing a tweet in their timeline that mentions a retailer to conversations around seasonal sales. Social media users not only discover this new information, but also act on it. In fact, more than half of Twitter users have made a purchase as a result of something they’ve seen on the platform.

Here are some pointers to help your small business make the most of Twitter this Christmas:

1. Plan for the moments you can predict

Think about all of the events that will happen during December from Christmas parties to New Year’s Eve. The month is full of moments you can plan your content in advance around.

2. Post something worth sharing

The more information you share, the greater your chances of being retweeted by your followers into new networks. We see much higher engagement when brands utilise rich media, so think about how you can use visual content — photos, Vines, and videos — to catch your customers’ attention when they’re scanning through their timeline. For example, tweet a photo of your Christmas displays and products.

3. Include a call to action

Your followers are more likely to engage with a post if it includes a call to action, such as asking users to retweet, favourite, ask for a reply or download something. Use this to your advantage to drive engagement with your brand. Examples include sharing pictures of holiday goodies, holding contests (“1000th retweet wins a prize”) and asking fans to vote for their favourite gift.

4. Respond, interact, engage

Reply when people talk about you. Favourite and retweet positive messages, to thank those who support you. Don’t be afraid to jump in and join real-time conversations through hashtags that are relevant to your industry, to get your brand noticed this holiday season.

5. Celebrate community

Social media gives small-business owners the ability to communicate directly with your customers, something that big brands often don’t have the opportunity to do.

6. Be helpful

The holidays can be a stressful time for consumers. Your social media content strategy should address the problems relevant to your audience and provide useful, tangible solutions. Most users follow brands for exclusive content — try sharing insider details, witty observations, behind-the-scenes photos and unique product previews. Consider some Christmas special offers for your followers, such as Twitter-only discounts and offers.

7. Tap into the power of curation

Christmas shoppers are overwhelmed by choices, so consider the role your business can play as a curator of great gift ideas, cooking tips or whatever is most relevant to your customers and followers. Users love bite-sized content and lists that offer value.

Barry Collins is the regional director of Twitter small business

Published: December 11, 2014 04:00 AM

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