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For brands, it's a very #social holiday

Ready or not, the holidays are upon us, which can only mean one thing: ads, and lots of them. This year, social media takes center stage as more and more shoppers go mobile and platforms like Twitter and Facebook add native e-commerce tools. According to a recent survey by eBay Enterprise, marketers are focusing more budget on social media than email promotions this holiday season. Here’s a quick look at how brands and retailers are amping up their social media presence just in time for the big retail rush.

Amazon and Twitter team up on a new way to #shop

Stocking up your Amazon.com cart this year will be as easy as a tweet. In September the retail giant launched a new initiative, called #AmazonWishList, that allows Twitter users to add products to their wishlist queue through the social platform. Once users link their Amazon and Twitter accounts, any tweet with an Amazon link in it is fair game — all shoppers have to do is reply with the #AmazonWishList hashtag.

The holiday initiative builds off a Twitter tool released early this year, #AmazonCart, that automatically drops Amazon-linked products into your shopping cart when you reply with that hashtag. The e-commerce giant is doubling down on holiday hashtag shopping with its #iWishYouHadAWishlist campaign, encouraging users to cajole their friends and family into wishlisting away, to help take the guessing out of gifting.

Poke, retweet, like … buy?

Both Twitter and Facebook are upping their e-commerce game this year, offering new avenues for retailers and brands to reach customers. In July, Facebook announced that it was piloting a “Buy” button that would allow users to purchase products directly from their newsfeed, without ever leaving the site. For now, the pilot is limited to a test group of small- and medium-sized U.S. businesses, but if the testing goes well, Facebook could surprise us with an expansion to a full-fledged feature in time for the 2014 holiday season. Twitter is right on its heels and began testing its “Buy” button in September. Like Facebook's, it's still in limited-testing pilot mode and enables users to confirm payment and shipping details directly through Twitter. Along with musicians and non-profits, the company has enlisted the help of big-name brands like Burberry and Home Depot, along with product platforms Fancy and Gumroad, to help the “Buy” button take flight.

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Moving beyond selfies-for-giveaways campaigns, brands are finding new uses for user-generated content to aid the shopping process. Marc Jacobs Beauty recently launched a new Instagram feature that automatically emails followers of the cosmetic company’s account with product information when they "like" a product post. Another luxury brand, Saks Fifth Avenue, launched its #SaksStyle site this fall, which is updated daily with crowdsourced, user-voted posts from Instagram, Twitter and other sites. The real gift for the holiday season, though, is that the #SaksStyleHub posts are completely shoppable, with embedded product links to start knocking down that gift list.

How is your brand spreading holiday cheer — and gift ideas— with social this year?

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