If you haven’t already included a social content plan into your wider marketing efforts for the festive season, don’t fret – there’s still time! This simple guide can be easily incorporated and adapted to fit your brand’s existing strategy.

All Christmas is local

Hopefully you’re in the habit of using an editorial calendar to plan your content. As always, national holidays, bank holidays, domestic and milestone events related (and unrelated) to your brand should be plotted across the season – from 1 November to 31 December.

Now re-plot with Christmas, not your brand, as the star of the show. Think locally. Let’s take the Irish market as an example:

When will the Christmas lights be turned on on Grafton Street or Shop Street? How about the unveiling of the Brown Thomas (née Switzers) windows? Is the upstairs Bewley’s really going to reopen? Is the 8 December national shopping expedition tradition consigned to the past? Is it even worth mentioning if you’re dealing with an audience of under 23’s? (You hear their millennial attention is delicate).

When does Christmas party season kick off? What are the party trends this year – could there be an angle there for your brand?

Trend watch: unicorns are in, spiralisers are out

Roll up your sleeves and get stuck into Google Trends. What about consumer trends online for the same period last year? Bear in mind that the general life cycle of a fashion trend is 3 years, for example, so you will see similar Christmas party outfit trends as last year; How can you produce content to fit – and preempt – these trends?

While you’re at it, delve into offline consumer trends. If you’re dealing with B2C, you should know that unicorns are in and spiralisers are out, no matter what you’re selling. You should have your finger on the pulse of the fickle public.

Sales tracker

Figure out when your customers will shop. For ecommerce platforms, check the analytics for your site to see which days have been the busiest historically. Hero social media content should be tied to these days accordingly, with a lead-in period.

How about the retail sales, both online and offline? While the majority of brands won’t release that information, the general in-and-around date their sale will begin can be gleaned by researching online to see when they kicked off last year.

Brands, take note of your competitors. Sign up for email and Google alerts. Publishers, why not compile a local ‘sales tracker’ for your audience? It’s a nice sticky piece of content with good sharing potential on social media.

Part voyeur, part networker

Social listening is essential to any social media strategy. Tools like SproutSocial allow you to keep the feelers out for any mention of your business and be aware of how your brand is being discussed, but you should also be in tune with how Christmas is being discussed! Be alert to any suitable news story you could potentially tag your brand on to by joining in the conversation!

We all expect there to be plenty of noise for example, on the John Lewis Christmas ad, so check out when it will be released and get ready to give your feedback on social media. Place yourself right where the audience naturally is. Have an opinion on the best mulled wine in Cork, or the Christmas lights in the Ginger Man! Get mingling with your audience!

An audience is for life, not just for Christmas

When planning your content, it’s important to create lead-nurturing paths.

What will happen to your leads once they’ve been generated? Once Christmas has come and gone, what will they mean to your brand – and vice versa? How will you ‘keep in touch’ with new customers? Publishers, are you asking them to subscribe to your mailing list to receive your weekly thoughtstarter? Retailers, will their loyalty be remembered? What’s in it for them?

If you bombard your Twitter followers with Christmas memes, will they unfollow you come January 3? Stick to the diversification you have in place – for example, continue using Twitter for customer service, to respond to queries and keep Facebook for quick wins and to seed your brand’s blog posts.

You get the picture. Now get busy.