Christmas is an opportunity to meet a huge cyber-stampede of new customers, head-on. This guide will help your brand hold its own among the mega brand campaigns, the meme saturation and onslaught of special offers.

1. Leverage your audience

Save time by mining audience-generated content: curate the the good stuff and give it a platform, a place to live.

Solicit user-generated content through your social media channels – competitions are a good incentive for your audience to partake and yield ready-made, shareable content.

There are always people who will be hosting Christmas for the first time, or looking to improve on previous years that need advice – while others simply love a platform to show off their baking/present wrapping/place-setting prowess on: offer up your space to bring these groups together! Open the door, beckon them in and get them mingling (publicly, on your Twitter page!).

Emotions will run high! Engage your social media audience by offering a safe space to vent or rant; share those sentiments with your wider audience, the potential for a rant to hit home at Christmas shouldn’t be underestimated! Provoke, cajole, cyber-tickle into participation! Make a connection.

2. Solve a problem

As always, your content efforts should start with the audience – by identifying who precisely it is you’ll be addressing, what their unique set of needs is and what value your content holds for them.

While your target audience should be always segmented into different personas, Christmas is a great unifier – so exploit that fact!

Widely considered the most stressful time of year, dreaded by many – how can you make your audience’s lives easier this Christmas? What problems can you solve for them?

The most obvious and valuable solutions will save your audience time or money – end of story.

Speed is key. Christmas is a time when long-form content rarely works (unless we’re talking the long-form original version of the 1997 Coca Cola ad). You’re not only competing for your audience’s attention with competitors and their ramped up Christmas efforts – you’re also competing with their families, childhood friends, Christmas parties, overpriced mulled wine, Bill Murray’s Scrooged and…you get the point.

Is there a summary of research that would save the audience brain time, that you could package in the the form of an interactive shopping guide, video or Facebook Live broadcast?

Or how about straightforward budgeting expertise that would cut costs shopping, entertaining, cooking, gift wrapping? Be practical – yes content is in a constant state of evolution, but Christmas is still very much a traditional event, with traditional problems.

Begin with improving your user’s experience of Christmas and your brand at Christmas, rather than solely on increasing their spend. Identify the problem, how you can address it and get to the point, sharpish!

3. Make your brand cool by association – or disassociation

Influencer marketing campaigns are a consistent trend and show no sign of dissipating. While they can certainly insert your brand directly in the path of potential customers by trading on the strength of the influencer’s audience loyalty, there are some important factors to consider.

Choose wisely – don’t just try to enlist the omnipresent ‘name’ of the moment.

Ask yourself: does this person fit naturally with my brand? Am I isolating my loyal base in an attempt to jump on the bandwagon? Is there an overkill situation with this influencer right now that will ultimately mean my brand is lumped in with the rest, rather than standing out?

Perhaps you’d be better off approaching a different, perhaps lesser-known influencer with a more niche following that is also more loyal or engaged. Shop around.

Decide how much input you want – is a traditional and simple case of endorsement of a product/being cool by association impactful enough? Or would a curated short series of some fun and valuable Christmas themed content (see point 1.) drive more engagement?

4. Pick a corner and fight

Look closely at your audience segmentation and determine a niche within those confines that is not as well-served or bombarded by advertising content as others.

Do this by analysing your audience insights, creating a survey for your subscriber base, researching market and consumer trends and scouring blogs, forums and online hang-outs.

Categorise your niche either as a persona (e.g. ‘last minute shoppers age 45-65 in Dublin, Galway and Cork buying gifts for their wives’) or per a product category (‘expensive new gadgets that will appeal to early adoptors/tech nerds who queue for new generation iPhones’ for example).

Create, tailor and layer a content package or series specifically geared towards this niche. For a shopper persona, create a precise shopping itinerary within a pre-defined budget and timeframe – ‘nail your Christmas shopping in 20 minutes with 5 clicks and €200’. Promise them that they will be home and dry and successful in their endeavours, with minimum stress.

For product niches, meet the audience where they hang out. Enlist influencers, experts and reviewers; create hashtags and distribute on social media channels; use an outreach strategy to submit to guest blogs and publish your research insights, where possible. Show proof of the heavy lifting you’re saving your audience from doing.

5. Don’t be afraid to catch feels

‘Tis the season of goodwill. Spread this to your audience. Christmas is a time to bring your yearly charitable endeavours to a head, in full view of your customers and potential customers.

Make it personal. This is more likely to land with your audience. It’s not only about maximising sales, after all, but about turning your audience into loyal advocates.

Give your audience a chance to participate in a worthwhile endeavour as they part with well-earned cash at an absurdly expensive time of year. Donate money to a charity that your brand is aligned with; organise and document your whole team volunteering for a cause; create blog content to champion a cause.

Show some depth. This could be the difference between swaying a customer in your favour versus a competitor – after all, emotions run high during the festive period. Including, of course, Catholic guilt.