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The fourth quarter of 2018 is underway, and brands around the country are preparing for all that means: The Holidays. There’s a general focus on the obvious – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hannukah, Christmas, and New Year’s – but does that focus create a blind spot for brands?

It very well may. Here’s why – and how to see more clearly.

Give Up on Assumptions

Regardless of what your audience was into last holiday season, things could be very different this year. As new trends pop up, people’s preferences change, and the things that mattered in the past could be woefully irrelevant now.

Hopefully you’ve been applying social listening all along – so you know what your audience is talking about, what has them most excited, and why. If not, start now.

Let’s use NetBase Pro to explore the social landscape right now with a quick search on the term “the holidays.” We’ve limited this search to English-language posts in the US, but if you’re a brand with global reach, you can certainly extend the parameters.

As early as October 16th we see a little spike thanks to a post by hip hop singer Cardi B:

File under: Celebrity influencers get lots of engagement when they share things regular folks care about too. That’s not a revelation, but it is a reminder; brands can get caught up in their own messaging sometimes.

But let’s look at Sentiment Attributes to see which conversations are most prominent on the positive and negative end of the spectrum:

A lot of the terms are what you’d expect. For everyone who loves the holidays – though they come up quick – there are those who find them stressful and difficult. Exploring the various terms gives you a sense of the specific conversations for each.

Let’s look at the Emotions and Behaviors to see where we can connect some dots:

 

There’s a lot of love and anticipation around decorating, celebrating, and “spending” time with family (the term “spend” under Behaviors isn’t about money). These Sentiment Drivers are more prominent than the scattered negative emotions and behaviors, but that doesn’t make the negative drivers any less important to delve into.

Don’t Miss Out on Trends

You also want to be sure you understand new trends picking up steam. Let’s look at Hashtags under Popular Items to see what’s trending there:

Hashtags are like trendy footnotes – they reveal what consumers consider important as they share information on social. They’re a secret handshake among consumers who share certain interests and values.

With these general insights in mind, you can do a more specific search relevant to your brand’s goals and audience. For example, “holiday decorating.”

Of note, the audience for this topic is entirely female, and nearly half of the conversation channels are comprised of News and Blogs combined, with Twitter taking the majority third.

These are the insights that can lead you toward new strategies that change everything. It’s exactly what happened for Cuisinart.

Finding Gold when You’re Looking for Silver

The home appliance brand wanted to refresh their video content offerings to get more meaningful, and was looking for insights to that end.

What they found was a surprising new audience segment looking for recipes around an unexpected holiday: Labor Day.

Though they were prepping for the end-of-year holidays, they discovered there was an opportunity to increase engagement and sales much sooner. This led them to create new quick recipe videos featuring some of their premium appliances – like the Griddler indoor grill – and the new strategy carried them through the remainder of the holidays as well.

This is why it’s important to let your social listening guide you. Instead of assuming they knew what consumers wanted, Cuisinart searched on holiday recipes. This was how they learned their audience wanted Labor Day barbecue recipes. If they’d focused on Thanksgiving or Christmas based on presumptions or history, they’d have missed out.

Luckily, they didn’t – and you don’t have to either. Learn from them, your competitors, and your social analytics data. And get ready for an amazing holiday season – whatever that may mean for your brand.

Ready to take your social listening to the next step? Ask us for a customized demo and we’ll show you why our tools are the perfect investment!

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