In the run-up to Black Friday and the Cyber weekend, you are probably questioning how this event can go ahead. The in-person shopping experience has completely transformed, but that’s where social can truly shine. COVID-19 has already proven that social media is fundamental to keeping us connected through these isolating times, but with the biggest shopping day of the year approaching it is truly about to be tested.

Here are some tips to help you plan activations and build a brand strategy for the upcoming shopping season.

The 2020 Opportunity

In 2019 online spending on Black Friday alone was up 14%, states the National Retail Federation. With the impact of COVID-19 and the social distancing measures that are now in place, the Office for National Statistics has reported a 33.3% increase in online shopping during the month of May. In August this is still a 31% increase on pre-pandemic levels. This year we expect to see these trends merge and spike as the majority of shoppers are going online.

This means there is a huge opportunity for those who can grab their customers attention online, and effectively adapt to this new shopping experience. Customers don’t feel safe in stores and so are being pushed towards online shopping sooner than they wanted to be. Therefore you need to take away some of the risk that online shopping represents, and provide a positive online experience.

Strategy 1: Shop Windows but make them niche

Customers are no longer walking past your shop windows, so you need to recreate them online. Whereas before, you could have had 10 shop windows, now you can have 1000’s. Every influencer post or story becomes a shop window and a portal to your online store. Even better than that, these shop windows are perfectly curated to fit their audience. Find out why that influencer loves your product, why are they a good fit and what niche factor connects you to their page. When you’re creating content that speaks to their specific audience, your shop windows just became 10x more powerful. Do this 100 times and you just increased your reach beyond any physical store.

Strategy 2: Recreate the in-store experience

Influencers are not just perfect for displaying your products, they can also recreate a vital missing element from in-store shopping. Did you know that between 15-40% of things bought online are returned, compared to 5-10% of in-store purchases? Consumers want to try and test things before they purchase, they want some assurances that it is truly what they want.

This is where influencers can step in and showcase your product. They can test it, review it, showcase it on different body types, in different contexts or with different styles. They can each highlight a different aspect that will speak to their audience. This content can not only be promoted to their own audience but with image rights, you can then use this content on your own channels to create a deeper online experience for customers. This is why image rights are an important element to discuss with influencers during the strategy stage to include in your fees and content brief.

Strategy 3: Increase the urgency

Last year, PWC found that deals ran for longer than ever before as retailers tried to spread the demand of the weekend across entire months. However, this impacted customers sense of urgency, as they ultimately felt that deals would be around at their convenience and didn’t feel a need to shop. This can be combating with a ‘drum roll’ strategy; using influencer pages in the lead up to a crescendo event to drive awareness and prime your audience. By sharing the excitement leading up to a big reveal, or a series of temporary deals available via that influencer, you re-create this sense of urgency that shoppers have lost.

Influencers are ideal for this type of campaign as they not only help you reach new audiences, but they are able to create a third-party excitement around your deals and prime the audience so they are ready to convert come the big day. The deal at the end of this could be one big moment, or to still spread demand, you could create a series of smaller deals which are run temporarily. Setting out clear dates and mini-activations around each temporary deal will drive bursts of activity across the month leading up to one big moment at Black Friday. With this strategy, you can recapture the urgency and continue spreading the demand.

Who will win the Cyber Weekend?

Only those that understand that this weekend will be a totally unique event will be able to effectively activate around the Cyber Weekend. You have to remember that whilst shoppers are spending more online, they are being pushed to do so by external factors. They don’t feel safe going in stores, and so it is your role to make them feel excited and safe again when shopping. We know that social has an incredible power to drive social traffic and online sales, but don’t overlook the psychology behind consumer decision making right now and the impact that COVID has had.

Now is the time to plan and create your strategies. Those above are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what could be done to activate around this holiday. Time to get planning.

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