by John Beaudoin

The savvy, social-media-minded business owner is likely already putting their holiday plans into place.

How often will we post to Facebook? What will we promote on Instagram? What specials will we push? How do we compete for those holiday dollars? These are questions business owners large to small are asking now as we count down the weekends until Christmas.

And while those holiday plans for retail, restaurants and service-oriented businesses previously had a much different look, how you plot out your strategy on social media is possibly the most important decision a business can make ahead of the holiday rush.

At Libations & Company in downtown Lee’s Summit, owner Seth Allen said he is going heavy on Facebook and Instagram this holiday season in order to push for more bundled sales ““ spirits, stemware and the tools needed to craft that perfect cocktail ““ through events and other declarations.

“As I increase the number of announcements on Facebook and Instagram, I plan to incorporate sales specials,” said Allen, who is plotting his first holiday season of sales as a business owner. “For instance, if a follower likes, shares and comments on a specific post, I will offer giveaways and specific discounts.”

“As we approach the holiday season, I will shift to creating kits to simplify the shopping experience for my customers. By grouping products together, I hope to give customers the ability to streamline their shopping experience and also sell more products to each customer.”

Andy Lock’s holiday plans are in full force as well. As the owner of not only Summit Grill and Third Street Social, but the newly opened Lakewood Local and Summit Cellar ““ both of which debuted in June ““ Lock and his team will not only be planning for restaurant bookings and private parties, but focusing on a retail angle as well.

“We will treat the liquor store like we treat the restaurants, as far as dollar amount and number of posts on social media,” Lock said, noting, like all his social media planning, they will evaluate the first year and see how those plans formulate and come into focus.

“Every year, we feel like we are out ahead of the holidays a little more and you have to be with menu planning, private rooms, that kind of stuff. It’s always challenging.” Lock said gift card sales will always be a focus of holiday advertising, but social media may not be as big a driver. Rather, marketing within “our four walls” will likely be the biggest motivation for those sales.

On the service industry side, Summit Video Services owner Chad Godfrey said consumer-related projects will vastly pick up for his business around the holidays in the fourth quarter. “We do more marketing toward the type of work we do for consumers in the fourth quarter than we do at any other point in the year,” Godfrey said.

Godfrey said he will continue to use Google Adwords (pay per click, cost per click) in the fourth quarter and will change ads specifically around the holidays to promote consumer services like video transfers to DVD, film transfers, audio, photos and slides.

His demographic being all over the social media sector, Godfrey said he plans more paid advertising on Facebook to reach his audience. “Our target market isn’t necessarily millennials,” he said. “Some is organic, some due to videos we produce. All of it helps build that following. It has to be the right kind of advertisement. I have done several ads with the exact same message and different photos, experimenting that way, some photos will do better than others. There’s definitely not a science to it.”

Shrewd business owners know that social media should be part of a larger marketing plan, one that Allen says includes a unique experience inside the store and a goal to reach outside of Lee’s Summit through not only social media but with exclusive products ““ in his case, spirits from around Kansas City. Godfrey said watching the social media trends of competitors and non-competitors during the holiday season is vital as well.
“Take some of those ideas and tailor it to your industry,” Godfrey noted.