When your business sees an uptick in sales around the holidays, it's a time to be especially focused on connecting with your customer base through social media. At a time when consumers are hard at work looking for gifts and other things to buy, you want them to keep you in mind. It can hardly do to wait until the holidays begin to reach out, though. There's a lot of work to put in, and it's a good idea to start as early as possible.


Put a social calendar together

When you're overloaded with work during the holidays, often, it's posting on social media that usually gets sidelined. To make sure this doesn't happen, it makes sense to plan out every single post that you will put out then -- including the most heavily trafficked sales days -- and to schedule them well ahead of time. Building a complete social media calendar filled with all the posts that will go out -- complete with branded images, captions, calls-to-action, and landing page URLs -- is important. Doing this can help make sure that your holiday social media posts and ads are all set on autopilot so that your customers hear from you when they are ready to buy.


Begin building relationships

People can only decide to buy from you if they know of you. Being very visible online starting months ahead of the holiday shopping season, can help you position yourself as the friendly business that your customers can depend on, turn to for product information and advice, and, in general, feel good about. It takes time to go through the know-like-trust-buy sales cycle that translates to real business opportunities, and it's important to start early.


Get your ads approved well in advance

Ads need to pass approval at social media platforms before they are ready to go out. Social media networks tend to be swamped with ad approval requests around the holidays, however. If you wait to seek approval until a week before an ad goes out, you could find that it gets caught up in delays, and misses the date you planned for. It's also important to remember that ads aren't always approved. If they are rejected, you need time to redesign them. This can be hard to find time for during the holiday shopping season. Submitting your ads to the social network of your choice a couple of months in advance is the right way to go.


Arrange for enough money for your advertising budget

Social media ads are typically priced based on the number of businesses that want to post ads at any given time. The greater the demand for ad space, the higher the price. Cost-per-click ads on Instagram and Facebook allow you to set price caps on how much you're willing to pay. You can work out the most you can afford to pay, and begin preparing to set money aside for those ads for when the holiday shopping season arrives.


Plan a teaser campaign well ahead of time

Shoppers often plan their holiday shopping, weeks ahead of time. While some shopping is always on impulse, it's important to put your products in front of shoppers who plan early and make up their minds about what they will buy. Putting out teaser ad campaigns, discount announcements, and other offers well ahead of time helps you appeal to the early planners.


Get into the good graces of your audience

In the interests of getting into your audience's good books in time for the holiday shopping season, it makes sense to begin friendly engagement months in advance. The posts you put out can be humorous and sentimental, and focus on the holiday spirit, but shouldn't be overtly about sales. Sending out touching messages about the holidays, starting a few weeks before the holiday shopping season, can help you get your customers to feel warmly about your brand, get them to reply and engage, and, in general, build your relationship with them.


Prepare to put someone in charge of your social accounts

When holiday shopping begins to pick up at your business, you need to be prepared for the large number of social media messages that come in from your customers -- ones asking about product details, about order statuses, and so on. The more responsive you are answering these questions, the better your customers will feel about you. Planning ahead of time and freeing someone up to attend to your social media accounts, can yield great results.


Make sure to avoid common holiday social media mistakes

In the middle of all the holiday shopping uproar, businesses tend to make a number of mistakes marketing themselves over social media. It can help to be careful about avoiding them.

  • Forgetting to send out year-end thank you notes: When you have loyal customers, it's important to let them know that you are appreciative of your relationship with them. Skipping the opportunity to thank your best customers wastes an important chance to strengthen your relationships with them.

  • Letting your competition analysis slide: Businesses are usually meticulous about researching their competition, but tend to let things slide when they get busy during the holiday shopping season. It's important to remember, however, that your customers tend to be especially aware of every deal by every competitor at this time. You need to get on social media throughout the holidays, and make sure your offers and prices aren't overshadowed by what the competition has.

  • Forgetting to retarget: Retargeting is the practice of pursuing customers who show interest in a product by clicking on an ad, visiting your website, or making a purchase. You show them ads for the product over and over to encourage them to buy. During the holiday season, when everyone constantly thinks about making purchases, retargeting can be particularly important. Unfortunately, businesses tend to get so busy that they forget to set up retargeting on their social media ad accounts. It's important to not make this mistake.


The holidays may be the busiest shopping season of the year, but you can make them more manageable by preparing to ace social media. With these tips in mind, and starting well ahead of time, you should be on your way to making the best of the season.