The Christmas love affair with social media

We are all familiar with the annual barrage of feel good images that make up the Christmas adverts – the animated animals and glamorous models in snow covered scenes, tables piled high with Christmas food and trees surrounded by presents. What would the build up to Christmas be without the annual John Lewis extravaganza and those commercial breaks that make us start thinking about gift-wrap, turkeys and booze?

Market analyst Nielsen predicts that retailers will spend around £390 million on advertising in the last three months of the year and a substantial proportion of this is expected to go on on-line advertising in 2013. In fact, the Advertising Association said earlier this year that it thought the spend on web-based advertising would be up some 11% compared with the last quarter of 2012. What is interesting about that 11% is that the figure is three times the rate of growth in spending on TV advertising.

So, it would seem that the budget focus for advertisers at Christmas is shifting more towards digital advertising as the years progress – and this is illustrated perfectly by the fact that this year we have seen social media suddenly become of central importance to Christmas advertising campaigns in a way that has never really been the case before. For example, M&S launched its 2013 Christmas advertising bonanza – “Believe in Magic & Sparkle” – on-line and part of the campaign was inviting the public to vote via social media (Twitter and Facebook) on the name that would be bestowed on the little white Yorkshire terrier that features in the advert. At the Co-Op, the campaign (‘Relax, Christmas Is Just Around The Corner’) was accompanied by Facebook and Twitter requests from the business for tips and tricks from its followers for ways to have a relaxing Christmas this year.

John Lewis – one of the biggest guns of all in Christmas advertising – launched their delightful animated short, The Bear & The Hare, giving the two main characters their own Twitter accounts – @JohnLewisBear and @JohnLewisHare. At the time of writing the Bear has 11,000+ followers and the Hare roughly the same. The company announced that is had reached its benchmark of £100 million sales earlier than ever before this year, something that was attributed partly to the increased engagement afforded by the social media side of the campaign.

According to Paul Bainsfair, Director General of the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, the increased use of social media reflects the way that we are all now addicted to our smart phones and tablets. He said, “Look at people watching TV in an ordinary home: most have access to mobile phones or tablets, which they interact with at the same time as watching a show.” His point is interesting – that essentially the reason that advertisers have incorporated so much social media into these crucially important campaigns is because that is increasingly where our attention is focused – social media is the new advertising front line. We are doing more and more on social media these days, from researching Christmas presents to looking for legal services, which is why this is where advertisers are targeting their campaigns. The lesson to take from this? If it isn’t already, having a social media strategy should be top of the list of your New Year’s Resolutions for 2014.

Our digital team is on hand to help you navigate your way through the many social media platforms available.

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