Wishing you a very social conversion – Improve conversion this Christmas through Social Media

November 2, 2012 9:32 am

Wishing you a very social conversion – Improve conversion this Christmas through Social Media


How do you maximize the cents/pence per tweet and the share/like worth of your social media efforts this Christmas? Whilst these kinds of metrics are still largely out of reach of the average digital marketer, there are several approaches you can take to maximize the monetisation of your social media/content strategy this year.

In this article we will discuss what we think works well to convert, why it should engage social media users and what themes you need to think about if you are still crafting and perfecting you plans for Xmas 2012.

This article can be downloaded as a pdf by going here; Wishing you a very social conversion

Monetising Social media

A recent study by Sociable Labs found that 38% of online shoppers have shared comments with friends on Facebook about products they’ve purchased. 62% read such posts, of which a whopping 75% clicked through to the retailer, where a further 53% ended up buying and the majority (81%) shared this purchase news! (March 2012 Sociable Labs: “Social Impact” study.) That’s some pretty impressive social conversion! Sadly reliable metrics of this nature are still in their infancy but they point at the sizeable ROI up for grabs in leveraging social media campaigns. So how to maximize the potential returns?

Crafting Social Journeys

When crafting a social media campaign you are essentially crafting a user journey, from discovery to engagement to sharing and/or purchase (ideally). What underpins the success of the campaign is its propensity to influence, both through how emotive and compelling the content is, its choice of platform, and the usability of sharing.

As usability professionals we’re constantly looking at ways to optimize these user journeys, both end to end, and across platforms and devices, looking for bumps or blockades along the way. One of the most helpful things to keep in mind when evaluating your own is where are you leading people, and where are you silohing them? Or does the trail go emotionally cold before they even get there? What onward routes do you expect them to take (share/like/pin/purchase) and which do you make it easy for them to take?

Influential Content = Digital Word of Mouth

The influence of word of mouth has been around since man gathered around campfires. Today we do more of it digitally than we realise, whether in active conversations or in subtler discreet ‘shares’ or ‘likes’. Whilst the latter may not feel much like an active conversation, we still exert a wide ranging influence on our audiences. In these simple acts we spark interest, invite comment, open a dialogue and pass on knowledge. And of course brands and retailers naturally want to be central to those discourses with the hope of generating purchases.

Choosing a channel

The plethora of possible social media outlets available to Marketers in 2012 simply makes the mind boggle. Where to begin? There’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest (one to watch), Instagram, Google +, Vimeo, Tumblr, not to mention the more familiar blog and inspiration articles that you could push Christmas 2012 campaigns through.

Then multiply these with the possible campaign ideas and you’re in a creative utopia. But how do you ensure your approach isn’t just good viral bait but positively impacts you bottom line?

Share-usability (make it easy!)

Sharing can either be spontaneous or passive; users may spontaneously choose to tick ‘Like’ or Retweet your blog piece or it may be passive by virtue of them engaging in a competition and creating content for your Facebook page, in their Pinterest boards or twitter stream etc. In the latter, followers of that user see you brand mentioned as a by-product of the original users activity (e.g. your brand gets into the newsfeeds of non-followers).

Share-usability needs to be optimal for spontaneous sharing. You are relying on that user a) being inspired enough to want to share it b) being able to find the tools to do so. If the applicable social media buttons aren’t in the right place at the right time then santa just won’t visit.

Other aspects to consider;

Share likelihood

Appealing, inspirational, inventive, compelling, delightful, funny, cute, witty. If your campaign isn’t at least ticking off one of these attributes then you might want to go back to the drawing board.


An important currency when inviting people to interact with your brand in some way. Existing followers will be readier to share on your behalf but new leads will be asking themselves ‘Will it result in mountains of spam?’, ‘What will be posted on my behalf?’. These internal questions will be barriers to sharing if you don’t address them upfront. Try to anticipate likely hesitations and counter them with a friendly message about how their data will (or won’t) be used.

Knowing me, knowing you

It’s important the target market feel that you know them and what makes them tick. Easier if you have a niche audience, bit trickier if you have a more universal appeal. Try to craft your strategy accordingly narrow or broad for maximum appeal.


Don’t be a Grinch, there’s got to be something in it for people these days. Online, folk are demanding, consider small giveaways for many or a small number of more impactful incentives for a handful of highly visible users. But even small gestures can go a long way, such as tailored updates on products or content the user is likely to be interested in.


Sometimes a reward is simply not necessary, starting a conversation is all you need to do, and the crowd will do the rest. Do you sell Spirits? Ask followers to submit their favourite festive tipple, cocktail recipe or hangover cure, include everyone in the chat but re-tweet loudest about the suggestions that involve your brand, e.g. Smirnoff starting the conversation below.

tweet from Smirnoff

Campaigns crafted for conversion

Here are a couple of examples of social media campaigns/content we’ve spotted that focus on converting the customer into a transaction (including some with a pleasingly festive angle ):


Frankly blog: Meet the Makers of the Exclusive Collection

Front page for Folksy Frankly blogWhat is it? Folksy’s blog, Frankly, is running a Christmas ’12 series of blog posts to complement their long running ‘Meet the Maker’ feature. Readers are offered a sneak peek into the lives and drivers of artisan producers, to showcase the collection of hand crafted festive products they’re pushing this year.

Likelihood to share? The highly crafty target audience is likely to relate to/find the maker’s stories inspiring, most of them tell a tale of small start-ups with family/home images, hence an emotional closeness between buyer and a seller who could be ‘just like them’. The inclusion of tangible individual products in each post encourages browsing of that item and subsequently the fuller Christmas range from linking to Folksy. Once ‘in’, the festive products are highly covetable…(this author wasted a good 30 minutes of ‘research’ time for this article, having been sucked into this particularly powerful conversion vortex)…ahem.

Sharing may be limited to followers that the reader knows have similar crafty interests but the universality of Christmas (and the traditions of crafts and holidays) will likely widen the net of influence.

Shareusability? A ‘Pin it’ option was mysteriously absent (for such a lifestyle brand) but Facebook and Twitter Links featured. However these were only positioned at the top of the page next to the blog piece title. These could have been replicated at the bottom alongside the comment option to encourage sharing once it’s been read.

Could do better? Folksy/Frankly could have included more explicit reference to Christmas in their title for the series. It’s left to website visitors to put the image of a Christmas based product (three wise men figurines) together with the more ambiguous title of ‘Exclusive Collection’, and the feature doesn’t provide cross links to the fuller blog piece from the homepage.

Good Food

‘Guess the Christmas Cover’ Twitter Competition

Guess the Christmas cover pageWhat is it? Good Food was tweeting 4 festive images over 4 days in the run up to their Christmas Edition publish date in late October 2012. They were asking followers to guess which of the 4 images was to be the magazine’s festive cover shot, for a chance to win a year’s magazine subscription.

Likelihood to share? I’ve got to be honest, as an appreciative follower of their regular tweets, I didn’t really ‘get’ this activity. Users aren’t provided with much to get excited about, given the winner could have been any one of several standard festive shots, of fairly pretty predictable Christmas foodstuffs. Also, existing subscribers (myself included) are already motivated to buy the subscription or already have if gifted to them (usually at birthdays and Christmas).

Shareusability? The competition was described in two succinct paragraphs but then followed a list of Terms and Conditions of biblical proportions! New targets may well be put off and existing followers are unlikely to want to ‘spam’ their own in this way. The campaign was also exclusive to Twitter platform with no means of cross-sharing to other media, e.g. Facebook.

Could do better? The core competition required little creative input from users themselves. The magazine editors had already chosen the cover and it was one of a selection of only four candidates. The campaign could have enlisted an active vote or users generated element to encourage more social activity.

Some more seasonal ideas to try

Make wishes come true

A great way of monetizing a social media effort is to create a ‘Wishlist’ competition. Encourage followers to create their dream wishlist full of your products and then post and circulate it, then prize draw to make someone’s wishlist ‘come true’ by gifting it to them.

This will monetise on several angles;

  • It will engage followers into making a list, they are then emotionally closer to clicking ‘checkout’ and buying it for themselves anyway.
  • Because they’ve thought about and imagined it they’re also more likely to put it on a genuine wishlist to friends or family members.
  • As they share their lists, friends will pick up easy ideas on what to get their friend, taking the stress out of choosing something they will definitely like.
  • From here the ‘snowball’ effect (sorry!) means the extended net of influence will hopefully convert those friends into making their own lists and considering a purchase.
  • As an added bonus you’ll also pick up some free metrics on what are your most coveted product lines or categories that year, helping you to anticipate demand and craft further last minute marketing.

Co-creating using Pinterest

Pinterest really is one to watch in terms of peer influence. It’s great for inspiration, co-creation and creativity, all the hallmarks of a great social campaign. It’s only just bubbling beneath the surface in the UK so far but if the states are anything to go by (and they usually are) it could easily be the next big monetize-able social platform.

How to leverage it?

If you are a retailing brand, you could invite your followers to build a board on Pinterest and fill it with their most coveted items and then reward as in the wishlist suggestion above. But the real plus with Pinterest is the scope for user generated content. Why not crowd source your gift guides or Christmas editorial? Recruit fans to build themed boards of your products, and get them to label who they suit e.g. ‘Stocking fillers for boys’, ‘Eco-warrior’, ‘Bookworm’. In turn, this helps hapless shoppers looking for inspiration. And, as with wishlists, these generated ‘collections’ also provide free insights into how users group your products and what is most covetable.

The Influence net

By posting a board on Pinterest the user is by default sharing product ideas with their own followers (who may be numerous if they are themselves popular pinners), who may explore and ultimately purchase these items from your site. This influence will be extended to their Facebook following if they share Pin’s with Facebook, or if their collection is chosen as a winner. Of course the act of pinning brings the original pinner a step closer to just hitting ‘Buy’. It’s also worth noting that this activity remains in their board history as a reminder each time they log in and edit their boards (unlike facebook statuses and notifications, whose influence is far more short lived).

But don’t be too pushy

And if it’s less about conversion and more about brand awareness then here are a few top tips to make sure you don’t come across too pushy and retain some of that festive ‘just for giggles’ feel.

Build anticipation:

Don’t just start a few days before the holidays, capitalise on the fact that many people are counting down the days until their favourite time of the year. Whilst a partridge in a pear tree might be a little cheesy, if you can create a modern, exciting or amusing twist on it, whilst cleverly showcasing your brand, then it’s sure to do the rounds in the office. Excited Christmas elves will want to share it with other Christmas junkies and they will want to send it to the office Grinch to try to recruit them to their cause.

Bling your brand icon

Consider hijacking a common Christmas icon (star, sleigh, tree, mistletoe) and integrating it into your brand logo. If yours is an animal, why not give it a Santa hat? The cuter/quirkier the better. This can be as subtle or as overt as you like, or as suits your brand’s personality. Just remember to keep using it across all your social media channels, in your facebook image, twitter avatar etc. for the whole season.

Share traditions

Christmas is a highly ritualistic time of year, from how and when you put up the tree, to what cookies or tipple you leave Santa on Christmas Eve. It’s also a highly creative time, whether you’re busy with crafts, planning how to feed the five thousand or making your purse strings stretch further! Why not share your office traditions (or the ones that are publishable!) and then invite followers to do the same? If it’s clever, inventive or just fun it’s sure to get a few share’s and likes.

P.S. Incorporating a ‘meet our team wearing hideous Christmas jumpers’ element is also sure to draw your audience that bit closer.

Target influencers

Look at the existing range of influence in the social sphere and hijack it. Keep an eye out for influential bloggers, tweeters and other respected types from your product area, whether designers, popular journalists, thinkers or more humble folk. Check out (www.klout.com) for an indication of the most influential bloggers, Tweeters, those on Facebook and Pinterest or any other authoritative ‘Social’ voice in your product space. Found them? Now enlist them as your busy elves! (Think guest blogs, collections chosen by…etc.). Most will already be compiling their own thoughts and ideas for Christmas or looking for inspiration. Their combined following with yours = double the conversion.

In Seasonal Summary

We’ve discussed examples of the kind of social sharing that can be active, as well as more passive, where compelling content can drive but can also be co-created by the very campaign itself. Test the boundaries of where the net of influence can spread, maximize the potential of onward channels or devices.

When crafting your Christmas campaign this year, pay attention to joining up the user experience, just as you would on your website. Think about the journey you are taking them on, from where your targets are likely to make the initial discovery of your content, through engagement, purchase and crucially, onward influence. It comes down to how easy it is for users to engage, convert and share on so that others can convert. In this way you can ensure your social campaign is the gift that keeps on giving this year.


For further information on this article, our company or any other queries feel free to get in touch with Rozanne on Rozanne@simpleusability.com or on 01133 508 155