Consumer Journey 4

How Social Media Influences the Consumer Journey During the Holidays

Ready or not, it’s holiday time. As a brand, it’s important to understand what your consumers’ path to purchase looks like as they gear up for the holidays. Some key questions one might consider are items like; how consumers are deciding on gifts, where they actually purchase these gifts, and most importantly, how can you leverage the use of social media to enhance your holiday campaigns.

We’ve taken some time to look into the different steps a consumer goes through, and laid out some tips that are sure to help boost your marketing efforts on social media this holiday season.

Discovery & Research

It’s no surprise that social media’s biggest influence on gift giving is in the discovery and research portion of the consumer journey. Whether through word of mouth or a targeted ad, consumers heavily rely on social media for gift inspiration.

  • Word of mouth marketing tends to have the strongest effect on purchase decisions, so activating your brand advocates and utilizing influencers is key this time of year. Letting other people get your message out there via social will not only help reach new consumers, but it takes some of the pressure off of the brand itself. You have people that love your brand- let them speak authentically for you!
  • Other gift inspiration can be found through regular branded content and should be a steady part of your holiday campaign. However, spending more time on certain channels can prove beneficial. A 2014 survey found that of all the social channels, Pinterest is where most people go to find inspiration. Facebook came in at a close second. Amping up your Pinterest presence this time of year can help new consumers discover your brand and great gift ideas.

Consumer Journey 2

Social channels still come in behind Google when it comes to researching gifts, but the percentage of consumers using social for holiday gift research increases each year. When it comes to researching particular gifts, Facebook is used more than other social channels, so having posts that provide product education will prove the most valuable here.


Once a consumer has researched what they want, it’s time to actually buy. Last year, only 14% of all discretionary retail spending was done through e-commerce, so expecting the bulk of your purchases to be made from social media is unreasonable. However, Pinterest and Twitter have introduced shoppable posts that could play a bigger role in holiday shopping this season.

  • Twitter’s introduction of the “Buy” button makes it easier than ever for a consumer to purchase a product straight from a tweet. Since this feature is relatively new, it will be interesting to see how many consumers use this feature during the holiday season. This type of tweet would be great for a brand to test with Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals.

Consumer Journey 3

  • Pinterest offers “Buyable Pins” which also allow consumers to purchase straight from a social post. Given that consumers like to discover gifts on this platform, adding in some strategic Buyable Pins could be an easy win for brands.

Consumer Journey 4

Whether your consumers are purchasing through social or not, it’s important to remember to intensify your customer service efforts on social this time of year. If someone has an issue ordering online, it’s very likely they’ll complain about it via social or tweet your brand for help. Utilizing social listening to identify and address these problems is key during the holiday season. Being readily available and fixing their issue as easily as possible can work wonders for your brand! You can even create brand advocates from consumers who had a problem by handling their issues efficiently and effectively on social.

Post Purchase

After the holidays are done and the gifts have been given, consumers might use social to post about a gift they love, or express their displeasure with a certain gift. In fact, people are most likely to use Facebook & Instagram to post about their gifts. Just like it’s important to listen during the season, it’s important to be available afterwards to address any issues or amplify any positive posts. This can be a great time to gather UGC for future use, so brands should have their Community Managers be on the lookout for content they can reuse (with permission, of course).

Consumer Journey 5

Overall, social media is becoming a bigger piece of the holiday retail journey each year. Whether consumers are discovering gifts, researching a particular item, purchasing through social or posting about the product after the fact, brands should keep these pieces in mind as they plan their overall holiday campaigns and ensure they’re there when the consumer needs them.

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