In the midst of last year’s holiday shopping madness, IBM’s Jay Henderson wrote a super detailed post on his company’s Smarter Planet blog about how social media affects holiday shopping. He concluded that social media isn’t just “another channel to have a personalized dialog with a consumer.”

The key to using social media for holiday marketing, he wrote, is motivating consumers to share their purchases, their experiences and their likes with their friends. And yet, as any business owner knows, it can be challenging to get news about your deal, your special event or your new product heard above all the rest of the online noise, especially during the holidays.

In that spirit, here are some ideas for well-crafted Facebook posts that your fans and followers will Like and want to share with their friends this season. 

1. A Post that Publicizes Your Sale & Reward Fans First

According to Forbes, 79 percent of consumers Like a brand on Facebook exclusively for offers, discounts and incentives, making Facebook one of the best places to advertise sales. A simple status update that highlights a sale can reach a large number of your business’s existing fans.

When crafting sale-related posts, think about why people have become fans of your business.For early access to sales? For access to monthly giveaways? Whatever the reason, use status updates to deliver offers that are special to your fans only. Kate Spade often offers Facebook fans early access to online sales.  The example below is seasonal -- from Halloween -- but you could easily do the same thing for any upcoming holiday.


2. A Post that Promotes Your Seasonal Products

The clothing brand J. Crew recently made headlines for posting its entire fall collection on its Pinterest Page, giving Pinterest users a first look at the brand’s new clothes and the opportunity place pre-orders.  They then used a Facebook status update to share their “November Style Guide” with their fans. This was a well-executed idea for how businesses can use social media to focus attention on new and/or soon-to-be-released products during the holidays.

In their post, J. Crew did two things right:

1. They created a feeling of exclusivity. Using the phrases “Get a first glance”  and “Before anyone else” made J.Crew’s fans feel like they were discovering something about the brand before anyone else. The takeaway here: Use your post to make fans feel like you’re letting them in on something special. Try this sort of update during the holidays to get more engagement on your updates.

2. They cross-promoted another important platform: Pinterest. When you use your most popular social channel (for J.Crew, it’s Facebook, where they have one million fans) to promote one of your other social channels, you often see a boost in followers on your lesser popular platform. The reason? Your fans are now aware that your brand is active on another platform! When fans see that your brand is posting unique, quality content on your other social accounts, they’ll want keep up with your brand on those platforms, too.



3. A Post that Drives Engagement and Crowdsources for Valuable Information

Don’t underestimate the power of visuals. A good image can effectively share a message and get people to react quickly, allowing your business to gather insightful data from followers. Such is the case with Everpurse’s status update featured below.

Without even reading the copy of the post, fans know what they should do: select their favorite design. Fill-in-the-blank posts on Facebook are generally effective and this is a visual version of that idea. Everpurse received more than 68 comments on their status update -- those 68 comments will no doubt influence their upcoming production decisions.

You can use the same principles of Everpurse’s status update to create Facebook posts that help your business get fast feedback from your fans this holiday season. Then use the data you collect to decide which items you should spend more of your promotion dollars on.


4. A Post that Gets Real Leads

Besides the audience-appropriate question and the mouthwatering photo, the small downtown- Reno restaurant SoDo has done two other smart things with their Facebook status update: They have a crystal clear call to action and share a link to a webpage where people can make a reservation.

If you own a restaurant or other reservation-based business, like a salon, try a similar post. In the post, link to a reservations webpage or create a reservations Facebook app (like this one)  so that Facebook users can make reservations directly from your brand’s Timeline profile.

According to Nation’s Restaurant News, in 2012, 14 million consumers were expected to go out to eat on Thanksgiving day. If your business is open on a major holiday, use a Facebook update to spread the word and bring in new leads, i.e., reservations!



5. A Post that Drives Foot Traffic to Your Store

Good storytelling skills are essential for social media success. On Facebook, try using status updates to tell a story that will motivate people to visit your brick and mortar business.

Hub Coffee Roasters, a small coffee shop promoting their new riverside location, for instance, used a compelling photo to convey the feeling of the season. And their post copy makes you want a cup of coffee, pronto! Despite having a small Facebook following of 2,500 fans, they garnered 57 “likes” and eight comments on their non-sponsored post. That’s what I call awesome engagement!



6. A Post to Promote Your Holiday Event

The holiday season is also known as “event” season. For businesses, there are open houses, promotional events and, of course, sales. Use a Facebook status update to promote your business’s holiday events this year. And take notes from the Gap!

In their latest holiday-event post, the Gap used hashtags (helpful for event attendees to use later), a call to action (“RSVP & join us”) and a link to a Facebook event page so users could RSVP. But here’s the biggest reason their status update excelled: The post’s photo is like an invitation and provides all the details for the event. This sort of design helps cut down on user questions and motivates them to put the event into their calendars right away because they have all the information they need.







7.  A Post to Incentivize Newsletter Signups

Businesses that want to drive sales through email marketing efforts this holiday season can use incentivized Facebook status updates to encourage users to sign up for the company newsletter. The brand Incase, a company that sells covers for technology products, does this really well.

Every week Incase hosts a giveaway and promotes it on their Facebook Page with simple, low-fuss status updates. Their fans love it!

During the holiday months, use your brand’s Facebook Page to try out this posting concept. It will drive engagement on your posts and allow your company to gather valuable information about your fans.



8. A Limited-Time-Only Promotion that Encourages Sharing

To encourage lots of sharing on status updates, make your business's post announcements time sensitive.

The Grand Sierra Resort and Casino, for instance, recently used one of their Timeline posts to share a one-day-only deal with their fans. And their fans (and their fans’ friends) shared the post a lot. The deal provided lots of value and it was eye-catching -- notice the bold red text bars.

Test posting a limited-time-only promotion on your brand’s Timeline this holiday season. And be strategic with which day you decide to host the deal. If Tuesday is a slow day for your business, post the deal on that day to get an extra surge of attention and sales.  



9. A Timeline Promotion

In August, Facebook announced changes to their promotion guidelines. According to their update, promotions can now be hosted on a Page’s Timeline through a status update. There are many types of Timeline Promotions businesses can run: “Comment to win,” “Like to win,” “Comment and Like to win,” etc.

Social media marketing analyst Sierra Tierra recently hosted a “Comment to win” Timeline promotion. This kind of promotion is great way to get insight from your Facebook fans.

If your business wants to host a low-fuss Facebook promotion this holiday season, do a Timeline promotion, like Sierra’s. And for more Timeline promotion/contest ideas, click here to check out this awesome list of thirty ideas from Inside Facebook.



10. A Post to Promote Your Facebook App  

One of the best ways to promote your Facebook app is to use a status update. The company Fitbit, which produces health-tracking fitness bracelets, uses Timeline posts to encourage their fans to check out their “Refer a Friend” app.   

This holiday season, if you have an app on your Facebook page that hosts a special promo code or is being used as a way to boost Page Likes use a post to drive app visitors (you can even fan-gate an app to show specific content to fans only) .


These are just a few examples of ways that brands can use Facebook updates to promote seasonal or holiday products and events. How do you tailor your status updates to reflect the season? What have you found to be the most effective?

This post originally appeared as a two-part series on Amy Porterfield's Blog