The countdown to the holiday rush has started... Now is the perfect time to put time-savers and shortcuts in place to help your business run smoothly while you focus your efforts elsewhere. One marketing task that you can easily automate into a somewhat “fix it and forget it” mode is the portion of your social media posts that consist of promotional and curated content.The first step is to create a calendar of promotional announcements that will help you continue to drive traffic and sales during the busy holiday season. Before you begin planning your promotion consider the social media channels you intend to utilize – and more importantly – be mindful of the ways in which your audience uses these channels. This will help you create an authentically social campaign that receives positive exposure and generates results by focusing on your prospects – instead of just creating easily ignored advertising static.Some of the best holiday promotions from 2013 were fun and interactive. One of the most memorable was the Coke Zero Sweater Generator. The soft drink icon created an interactive app that allowed users to create the holiday sweater of their dreams (or was it nightmares?). This year, Coke is already out of the box with My Coke Rewards, a page targeted at getting visitors to interact with the brand for a chance to win a stocking stuffed full of $20,000 in cold, hard holiday cash, and other prizes.You don’t have to have the deep pockets of a 125+ year brand to create a holiday promotion that generates interest in your products and traffic to your site. You can borrow some inspiration from clothing eTailer Topshop. Their “Dear Topshop” holiday campaign included an interactive gift guide, which was built around a Pinterest contest. For a chance to win shopping sprees and Fashion Week show tickets customers created Pinterest boards featuring pins of their holiday party inspirations and gift wish lists, labeled with the hashtag #DearTopshop. For more great ideas for holiday promotions that work, check out these articles from HubSpot and Practical Ecommerce.The articles above are a good example of another important part of your holiday social media messaging: curated content. Curated content consists of sharing digital content with your audience that appeals to their particular interests, but is not produced or created by you. This can include news stories, pictures, infographics, surveys, memes – basically anything you find online and share via social channels. The key to good content curation is to make sure that it is relevant to both your audiences’ interests and the products you offer. For instance, content about holiday fashion tips and trends are perfect for an apparel site -- even better if you carry some of the recommended products.Unfortunately, content curation can be a time-consuming endeavor. However, instead of combing the internet for hours on end searching for relevant content you can set up content feeds that deliver loads of great content for sharing – directly to your inbox. ContentGems is a great content curation tool that automatically gathers content according to the search terms you select. The tool is available in both free and paid models depending on the amount of content/interests you wish to curate. At the paid levels, ContentGems can also monitor various social media channels to provide a comprehensive business tool. Another simple tool for curating content is to set up GoogleAlerts that search the Google engine and deliver fresh results to your inbox on a daily basis.Now that you have your promotions plan and a content feed ready, you can utilize your choice of several social media posting tools to pre-program posts to appear on your social media channels throughout the entire holiday season.HootSuite is a comprehensive social media tool that has been around longer than a few of the social media channels it manages. The tool comes in both free and paid versions and includes a comprehensive dashboard that helps users pre-schedule posts and gain insight into various analytics. HootSuite includes integrations for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare and many other channels.Although SproutSocial is newer to the social media management scene, this comprehensive tool focuses on helping businesses build engagement with publishing and analytics. Sprout's platform integrates seamlessly with Google+, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and more.However, before you run off and get started pre-programming your “social media” – it’s important to remember that social media should not entirely be a “set it and forget it” endeavor. You should still plan on setting aside two to three 5-10 minutes intervals throughout the day to monitor your social media channels – and most importantly – interact with your fans and followers. This will help increase your engagement and ensure your channels and messaging get the best exposure possible.
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