From Thanksgiving to Christmas to Hanukkah, this time of year is filled with excitement for the holidays--and for shopping. While big department stores like Walmart, Best Buy, and JC Penney have gotten a huge amount of criticism from the American public for the chaos surrounding Black Friday deals, they have continued to open earlier and earlier and have seen more purchases made every year.

For the past two years, however, “Black Friday” deals have turned into Thanksgiving deals with stores opening on Thanksgiving Day. This new practice grew even more in 2013, taking people away from their families on Thanksgiving day and putting them in camping chairs in parking lots, waiting to beat out their neighbor for the last 50” flatscreen TV.

Many Americans, including myself, feel that this displays a lack of respect for consumer and leaves a negative impression of national corporations. Fortunately, if used correctly, social media can be used by small businesses to combat the big department store sale season and show off a business' favorable personality.

Here are 3 ways small businesses can utilize social media to keep up with the competition:

  1. Keep Up with the Times: Black Friday is here and it’s here to stay. Take advantage of “Small Business Saturday,” and let your followers on all social media platforms know about your deals. Post photos of new merchandise on Facebook and Instagram, give a discount to any Twitter follower who retweets a special, or give prizes away to the first 50 people who “like” your business’ status. These are just several simple ways to get your customers involved, but the point is that you want to interact with them and make sure they are well informed of the deals. Walmart makes sure everyone knows about their deals, so why shouldn’t you? You might not have a stampede breaking down barricades into your store, but getting people talking on social media will increase traffic.

  2. Show Off Your Personality: Every big business has a well-defined brand and you should, too. Utilize social media platforms to show off your staff, merchandise, and store's history. Many small businesses have been around for years and people in the community are familiar with the families and owners behind the business, so put it out there! Social media is the new form of “word of mouth” marketing; get people talking about how personal, consistent, and helpful your content and responses are on social media. Need ideas? Establish a loyalty program for customers that “share” your page the most. It doesn't hurt to get in the holiday spirit, either. Share pictures of your decorated business and make sure customers know about all the great deals you’ve come up with for the gift-giving season.

  3. Give Back: This is the best time of year to showcase and encourage charity. #GivingTuesday, which occurred the week after Thanksgiving, wass a great platform for your business to launch a food drive, drop bag, or other charity promotions for the holidays. These kind of actions not only demonstrate how your business gives back to the community, but also encourage customers to give back as well. One of our clients(a dental office) gives discounts this time of year on teeth whitening procedures and cleanings based on how much their patients give to charity. This is an unbelievable way for you to give back to the community and make sure your customers know about it. To let customers know about opportunities like this, post it on social media outlets, create an event on Facebook, and promote it on all other social channels. This will reach out to a larger number of people and make sure your program(and your business) gets the most exposure.

Social media can be a lifesaver for small businesses when competing with big brands. Taking advantage of the holiday season to show off your business’ merchandise, deals, and staff will increase foot traffic and get people talking, with the added bonus of giving back to the community.


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