Last year the Community Managers Meetup in New York City hosted a great panel on the topic of “Social Media, Brands and Holidays”, with participants including Kate Gold, Social Media Director at Food Network; Ying Huang, Senior Organic Marketing Manager at From You Flowers; Morgan Johnston, Manager of Corporate Communications at JetBlue Airways; Katherine Wolfstahl, Senior Social Marketing Manager at 360i; and moderator Nicole Schuman, Social Media Editor at About.com.
The conversation started on a light note with Nicole asking the room for a favorite, unique non-traditional holiday. Morgan got a laugh from the crowd when he pointed out that, during a recent crunch time, he’d discovered that there is a National Information Overload Day.
With Nicole moderating, the panel answered a broad range of holiday and social-media questions. Some highlights follow.
Are there holidays or holiday surges specific to your industry?
“We seemed to be surprised every year that Christmas is coming,” said Morgan Johnston. If you’re JetBlue it’s Christmas; if you’re the Food Network, it’s Thanksgiving; if you’re From You Flowers, it’s Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day. Katherine Wolfstahl talked about seasons for specific alcoholic beverages, like Kahlua in the winter.
How do you prepare for holiday peak periods and challenges?
“Our job is to generate goodwill and build a bank of goodwill through our social media messaging,” said Morgan of JetBlue, because peak periods can spend that goodwill. People want to go on vacation in February from the Northeast but storms get in the way and use up that goodwill. For From You Flowers, it’s “Cupid’s Crisis,” because those same winter snowstorms can delay deliveries or damage the flowers en route.
How do you engage with customers in unique ways?
JetBlue has a program called “Fly It Forward” where they find people on Craigslist looking for a rideshare to get home to see their family over the holidays and they offer them a free airplane ticket. Food Network partners with Share Our Strength and No Kid Hungry in a program called “Bake It Forward.” The CEO of From You Flowers packs boxes during peak season and makes sure to cut-off orders after 3pm so as not to falsely promise to customers an unmeetable delivery schedule.
The panel shared good insights on what has worked well on social media and what has generated an unexpected reaction. We also heard about how an emphasis on an internal team focus can nurture loyal, productive staff.
Addressing the challenge of telling the brand story with many brand stakeholders wanting a voice, Morgan spoke about plans to implement an editorial board with a single creative team. This approach, he believes, will help to create and maintain a cohesive message while allowing input from sales, product management, loyalty programs and special projects.
With Halloween coming up, this was all a reminder that developing social-media tactics doesn’t have to be scary.