New holiday research: Five ways for retailers to engage shoppers on Twitter

Monday, 26 October 2015

As Thanksgiving approaches, Twitter holiday shoppers are likely to burn the midnight oil and devote their weekends to wishlists — and we’ve got the Tweets to prove it. According to our newest research, holiday shopping-related buzz surges by an average of 83% from 8pm-12am across the season. On Sundays in November, when retailers release each week’s special offers, the conversation spikes by 87%.

Our analysis of the 2014 holiday shopping conversation on Twitter revealed not only when users Tweet most about shopping, but also how their shopping interests and needs shift throughout the season. Retailers can use these insights to determine the most effective timing of their Tweets and to craft messaging that resonates from now through New Year’s.

For a blizzard of customer insights from the 2014 Twitter holiday shopping conversation — plus key strategies to make the season merry for your brand — check out our guide below.

New holiday research: Five ways for retailers to engage shoppers on Twitter

October: Increase discount-focused holiday messaging.

The flurry of holiday shopping chatter begins in September and kicks up in October. Most of these Tweets (80%) are categorized as “pre-purchase” conversation, meaning it’s the perfect time for retailers to seed gift ideas and offer ways to help people prepare for the holidays. For example, last year, @BestBuy ran a #HintingSeason campaign to show users how to ensure wish list fulfillment:

Early in the season, people are also focused on how to make their holiday shopping budget-friendly: 30% of the conversation is about the need to save money to buy gifts. This means users are likely to be especially interested in retailer Tweets promoting deals and discounts.

November: Launch Black Friday campaigns and focus on customer service.

Twitter holiday talk intensifies in November, and a significant amount of the conversation (26%) shifts to the shopping experience. Make sure your brand is top of mind when shoppers plan their Cyber Monday and Black Friday shopping strategies by launching engaging campaigns.

Retailer spotlight: In 2014, @Kohls kept shoppers captivated during the crucial Thanksgiving shopping week with “Frozen”-themed Twitter trivia. Winners received $500 gift cards, and @Kohls generated a 234% shift in positive sentiment.

 At this point in the season, shoppers also increasingly Tweet with brands to get product info. When these users receive a response, 77% feel more positively toward the brand (Twitter Vertical Profile, Millward Brown, 2014). This means it’s crucial for retailers to check their timelines twice and ensure no Direct Message goes unanswered. According to the user below, excellent holiday service from @HomeDepot earned the brand his future business.

Retailer spotlight:@Nordstrom listens and responds to customers in real time on Twitter throughout the year. Customers can even Tweet to @Nordstrom directly from the retailer’s mobile app.

New holiday research: Five ways for retailers to engage shoppers on Twitter

Image used with permission from @Nordstrom

December 1-24: Offer last-minute holiday help.

By December, shoppers are hustling. More than half (55%) of the Twitter holiday conversation this month is about consumers’ holiday shopping progress. As deadlines approach, we see an uptick in mentions of fashion/clothing/shoes, electronics, and, of course, gift cards (the most discussed product in 2014).

This final shopping month is also when people start to express frustration about limited product stock, and running out of money and time to buy gifts. In December, Tweets reflecting anger and sadness make up a fifth of the holiday conversation. Consider soothing harried consumers by directing them to convenient shopping opportunities and suggesting ways to ease holiday stress.

Retailer spotlight: Last Christmas, @Walgreens used Twitter to remind customers that it was open for eleventh-hour shopping.

December 25-31: Drive traffic to your mobile app and encourage gift recipients to Tweet.

Many consumers will get new mobile devices for the holidays. (According to Gartner, 31% of annual global smartphone sales occurred in Q4 of 2014.) As a result, the end of December is a great time to use Twitter mobile app promotion to remind new phone owners to download your mobile app.

The last few days of 2014 are also a good opportunity to encourage users to Tweet about favorite gifts purchased from your store. Why? More than half (52%) of users say they have purchased a product they first learned about on Twitter (Twitter/DB5 Holiday research, 2014). In the Tweet below, a customer shares her excitement about receiving new eye makeup and a @Sephora gift card.

The study

We worked with social media consultancy Converseon to analyze U.S. holiday shopping-related conversation on Twitter from September 1 - December 31, 2014. We manually coded and analyzed a subset of the total holiday conversation consisting of 600 shopping mentions. The sample was randomized and statistically significant at a 95%+ confidence level.