Guide to Social Media Advertising During the Holiday Season

Megan Redzia - 11/21/2018

The most wonderful time of the year is upon us! The holidays provide brands with an opportunity to drive awareness of their products, services and philanthropic initiatives on social media. But with consumers’ social media feeds overloaded with holiday messages and deals, how do you  stand out among the crowd of  content  and get the most out of your social media advertising budget? In this blog post, we  provide some  ways you can effectively reach your target audiences on social media during the holiday season.

Create a Holiday Social Media Advertising Campaign

First things first—before you start looking to advertise your message, you need to be clear on what you want to say during this time of year. Large holiday campaigns typically require months of pre-planning, but if you don’t have the time or the budget to put together an entirely new campaign for the holidays, you can still put a holiday twist on your overall marketing campaign. Here are a few ideas to help you tap into the festive fun without straying too far from your core message:

  • Put a seasonal spin on your company’s tagline
  • Update your brand colors for the holiday season
  • Brighten up your social media creative with holiday-themed profile/cover photos and content images
  • Use a specific hashtag for your holiday campaign to tie everything together
  • Ensure everything is consistent and can be easily understood by your audience

Get Personal with Your Audience on Social Media

No matter what you are using social media for this time of year, it’s a great opportunity to connect with your audience on a deeper level. People tend to be very nostalgic and love to share personal stories about their memories and family traditions. If you’re planning on running a giveaway or sweepstakes, it’s a great time to put a feel-good message out there and invite your audience to share their experiences with you.

One of my all-time favorite holiday campaigns was REI’s 2015 #OptOutside. Instead of encouraging customers to go to the mall and shop their store’s sales, REI closed their doors and encouraged customers to join them for a day of outdoor activities and save shopping for another day. The outdoors is the essence of their brand, so this was a great way to stay true to themselves and relate to their core audience. Since it worked so well, they have continued to do it every year since.

Leverage Top-Performing Content from Previous Social Media Campaigns

Since the advertising landscape will be so busy, it’s important to apply all the learnings you gathered from earlier in the year and to your holiday social media strategy. At 3E Public Relations, we always encourage testing and learning when it comes to social media advertising, but the holiday season may not be the best time to redefine your strategy. Social media platform Sprinklr recommends doing A/B testing before the holiday season starts, saying “you can better understand what type of creative each demographic responds to, and then you can double down on those ads when it matters most.” If you learned that video is the most engaging type of content among your audience, then it makes sense to focus on putting out more video content during this time. If you learned that ads focused on driving engagement are the most effective, then put more of your budget towards those ads.

Choose the Right Time to Advertise on Social Media

Once you develop your content strategy, it’s time to advertise so you can maximize the reach and impact of  your messages. If your brand sells giftable or seasonal products, then it makes sense for you to be advertising in the midst of Black Friday chaos. However, if you are focused on a service or a message that is more evergreen, your dollars might be better spent after the holiday madness settles down. It’s going to cost more to reach your audience leading up to Black Friday and during December as a lot of brands are going to be bidding for their attention on the various platforms. You may be better off saving your advertising dollars for 2019. Holiday messaging will have calmed down and people will have more time to focus on your content.

Follow Social Media Advertising Best Practices

If you will be advertising during the holiday season, it’s more important than ever to make sure you are following best practices to get the most out of your campaign. Here are a few tips to follow:

  • Make sure not to compete with yourself. As tempting as it be to run several ads at once that way you can deliver multiple messages, this won’t help your strategy if you are sending all your ads to the same audience. Spread your messages out or send them to different audiences at different times to get the most out of your budget.
  • Ensure everything is mobile-friendly. Double check the way all your ads appear on mobile as that’s where most people will be viewing them.
  • Check that your Facebook pixel is working properly. Data from your Facebook pixel is always valuable, but you’ll want to monitor it during this peak time.


The holiday season is a busy time of year in all aspects including social media advertising, but you can still stand out in those crowded news feeds. Create a consistent campaign, connect with your audience, use what you know works best for your brand, find the best time to get your message out and follow best practices. You’ve got this! Happy holiday advertising from 3E Public Relations.

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