November 9, 2012, 12:04 PM

Retailers go social to get in the holiday spirit

Sears and QVC are highlighting seasonal offers.

Lead Photo

With the Toys ‘R’ Us social media campaign, when consumers pay off the layaway balance for a fellow shopper, the retailer donates $200 in toys to charity.

Even with Halloween in the rear-view mirror, only a smattering of retailers this week in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide switched their social media gears into pushing holiday-specific offers—or even just sharing holiday-specific posts. Some retailers, however, have gone all in.

That includes Sears Holdings Corp, No. 8 in the Top 500. The chain this week changed its Facebook cover page to a large image of a pair of gloves holding a tablet with the caption “This is how to gift.” And the vast majority of its Facebook posts had a holiday-related spin, such as today’s note, “Are you hosting a Holiday party this season? Make sure you are soiree chic with searsStyle!” The retailer also promoted such holiday-specific offers as this post: “It's almost 'time' for the Holidays! Get this Relic Men's Calendar Watch for only $39.99, Reg. $65.00. Online today only!” And yesterday the retailer posted a link to its Black Friday ad. Black Friday refers to the day after Thanksgiving.

Similarly, QVC , a division of Liberty Interactive, No. 7 in the Top 500, focused nearly all its Twitter messages, or tweets, around holiday gift ideas. For instance, today QVC posted a note reading “How cool would Santa be if this was under the tree? Children’s Mercedes Benz#GiftIdea” with a link to an image it pinned on Pinterest.com. On the social network consumers can share or “pin” items, such as a particular vase from QVC.com. Pinterest users often add a brief description or caption that appears below an image of the pinned item, such as “This would look great in my living room.” Those pins are gathered together on a board, which brands and users can organize around a particular theme— say, “For the home,”—and then share with other consumers.

Pinterest stands as a crucial element of QVC’s social media approach this holiday season, as links to its Pinterest activity, namely the pins it has added to boards and those its fans have added to their boards, are woven throughout its Facebook and Twitter posts. For instance, yesterday QVC posted a note that said “See the most popular things QVC shoppers have pinned on Pinterest + find ideas for everyone on your list including the Safekeeper on 6 Easy Pays!”

Gap Inc., No. 22, this week launched a holiday marketing campaign centered around the theme “Love comes in every shade.” The campaign features celebrities such as actor and activist Michael J. Fox, rapper Nas and blues musician Olu Dara. To promote the campaign, Gap lets its Facebook fans turn their photos on the social network into physical postcards. Gap also shared sneak peek photos of its new holiday collection attire on Instagram and Twitter. 

Some retailers used social media to announce their first holiday-related price cuts. For instance, Barnes & Noble Inc., No. 32, announced that it had cut the price of its Nook tablet and Nook Color e-reader on Facebook and Twitter via notes asking “Is Nook on your holiday wish list?”

Meanwhile, Toys ‘R’ Us Inc., No. 29, has launched a social media campaign on Twitter and Facebook called Giveback with Toys ‘R’ Us, a “pay it forward” type of promotion that asks consumers to pay off the layaway balance for a fellow toy shopper. Each time the retailer learns about a balance paid, it will donate $200 worth of toys (the average value of a layaway order) to The Marine Toys for Tots Foundation to give poor kids gifts to open on Christmas morning.  The chain encourages shoppers to spread the word about the program by Liking and sharing Toys ‘R’ Us posts on Facebook about the promotion and by retweeting the retailer’s marketing messages on Twitter.

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