Best Practices

Christmas is happening on Twitter and here's how brands can plan for it

By Gordon Macmillan
Thursday, 14 September 2017

Twitter is the place where Christmas conversation happens. It’s where people come to talk about the big moments like the TV ads, shopping, turkey and so much more.  This year we have new research that offers valuable insights to help brands plan around those moments at Christmas and maximise impact on Twitter.

Last year there were 110 million mentions of Christmas in November and December on Twitter (1). We know as soon as Halloween ends people start ramping up for the next big holiday and that means the Christmas period has evolved into an eight-week phenomenon.

 

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Those eight weeks start, as @JohnLewis knows well, as soon as brands start to launch their Christmas TV ads. Not long after Christmas movies start running on TV. Yippee-Ki-Yay! Then in quick succession come #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday, advent calendars, Christmas trees, turkey and all the trimmings. These are all key moments in the festive build up. What we’ve found from our Christmas research over the years, however, is that on top of these Christmas moments there’s a bigger picture for consumers. There is an important shift in mindset over the eight week Christmas period. In November, the overwhelming feeling is that of excitement - ‘Christmas is coming’. From Black Friday onwards that shifts as the stress of getting the big day sorted out creeps in. People’s mindset evolves into ‘Christmas is here’.

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The Christmas Challenge

As the Christmas conversation is happening on Twitter and we know people’s evolving needs over the period, it offers an important opportunity for brands to connect with a significant and influential audience. The conversation that takes place on Twitter quite simply does not take place anywhere else.

 

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Offline or online, Christmas is about crowds and Twitter is no different. For brands that means two things. Firstly, attention is scarce. The average person today has an eight-second attention span (2). Secondly, in our new research (3), looking at how messages spread across several categories including news, culture, sports and brand campaigns, that for most ‘stories’ there is a window of natural interest when people are likely to talk about something and take action.

That presents a Christmas challenge and opportunity. How do take advantage of natural engagement and sustain interest over an eight week period? Fortunately, we have a very good idea of how you do that with five key principles.

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1. Leverage anticipation

We know people think Christmas is here as soon as the ads launch so this is a great opportunity to plan for this big moment. This is the one time of the year where people are genuinely excited to see ads so make the most of it. Build towards that time with teaser content, using short video and gifs to drive curiosity, before dropping your ad. This is what @marksandspencer did last year to great effect 24 hours before its #MrsClaus TV ad went live.

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2. Launch with impact

As we’ve said, any newsworthy moment in culture has a window of natural interest. This means taking advantage of and products on Twitter that achieve scale. Think about a First View or a Promoted Trend to get your Christmas TV ad in front of an engaged and influential audience of millions. Combine that with a custom emoji and a powerful hashtag to drive conversation. There are many good examples from last year, @Sainsburys among them and more here.

 

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3. Top of Mind

Ad recall is high across November so make sure you continue to remain top of mind. Maintain that momentum. Last year, many brands did that with Promoted Video. This year there are new opportunities.

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  • In-Stream video ads: align your ad with premium content. You don’t need to create new content, we recommend running six seconds. You can choose from a host of premium publishers from Good Housekeeping to Glamour and Grazia. 
  • Tweet Carousel: #BlackFriday has become a key seasonal shopping moment and using products like a Tweet Carousel is a strong way to prompt people to buy and ensure your brand remains top of mind.
  • Clickable Video Card: This product shortens the distance between seeing an ad and taking action by combining that all in one immersive unit. Show people tucking into Christmas food with opportunities to pre order for the 25th of December.

 

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4. Make it Personal

As we head into December, we move from a Christmas is coming mindset to Christmas is here mindset. It’s time for final meal prep, hosting plans and last minute party outfit buying. In a nutshell, it gets personal. Unlike any other platform, Twitter can quickly move from a public to a private conversation.

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We now have a new Direct message product that drives personalisation, and can do this at scale. Imagine how useful it would it be if Mrs. Claus popped up in your timeline offering you gift inspiration? Twitter easily allows you to simply select who you want help with buying a gift for and you would instantly be taken into an experience with Mrs. Claus as your guide.

 

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5. Keep it fresh

Eight weeks is a long time, and so the challenge is to keep it fresh, and your audience moves from the planning to the action stage. That’s about more than buying. It is also about looking for ideas, in those final stressful days.

As a brand, consumers will appreciate you more if you can be helpful. This is something @marksandspencer took to the heart of its campaign last year. It partnered with our creator platform Niche to continue to provide helpful tips and tricks through to the very end.

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The 5 Principles

We hope these 5 key planning principles will provide a framework for how to use some of the things discussed here, which coupled with the tools at your disposal will make for a fabulous Christmas campaign on Twitter.

To finish here are three great examples of how retailers used Twitter last year as key parts of their Christmas marketing.

 

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Sources 1. 110M mentions global of Christmas last Nov-Dec Twitter internal. 2. Microsoft Canada 2015. 3. Twitter Internal 2017.

 

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@gordonmacmillan

Gordon Macmillan

‎@gordonmacmillan‎

Head of Editorial, Twitter EMEA

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