Christmas is fast approaching. Isn’t it always? But as it’s your most important sales period of the year, preparing early can mean the difference between roaring success and abject failure.

Keen to help you make the most of the 2015 holiday period, we’ve already developed 3 creative social media Christmas campaign ideas. But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

Depending on your objectives this Christmas – data capture, website traffic, direct sales – it’s vital to tailor your efforts and understand how each individual social network can help you achieve those specific goals.

With that in mind, we’ve put together a practical guide to social media targeting, delving into the unique features of each social media network and helping you better understand which channel can deliver on what set of objectives.

Facebook – Data Collection, Targeting

Facebook Ad Targeting

Where else could we possibly start? Facebook, as the largest social media platform around, will be at the forefront of your social marketing considerations this Christmas. And being the largest certainly has its advantages.

Data Collection

One of the primary benefits of using Facebook as the basis for your Christmas campaign is the functionality to easily collect data; email addresses, phone numbers, location. Data can then be used to reinforce sales, conversions and marketing further down the line.

Get your campaign right and your business could end up with a highly engaged list of prospective customers, ready and waiting for your brand message before, during and after Christmas.

Targeting

The potential customers you’re really interested in are the ones interested in you and your product. And, as we’ve said before, Facebook “has the most comprehensive offering for ads…” enabling you “to accurately target practically any audience…”.

If you know your audience, then you can use Facebook’s highly targeted ads to drive traffic and conversions.

The bottom line is that Facebook offers the best, most targeted advertising on any social media network. You can read our comprehensive guide to social media advertising right here…

Pinterest – Traffic, Sales

Pinterest. It’s not necessarily a network you’d consider to drive traffic and conversions, but the fact of the matter is that Pinterest is an ever growing platform – 70 million – that converts. In fact, 93% of Pinterest users have shopped online in the past 6 months.

Simply put, people pin what they’d like to buy. Especially around the Christmas period.

Traffic

Behind Facebook, Pinterest drives the second most traffic to websites with a 5.06% share for Q4 in 2014. In fact, along with Facebook, it’s the only social network to experience year-on-year growth for share of traffic.

We’ve already written a guide to how you can better use Pinterest in your marketing strategy and it’s certainly a platform you should consider in the run up to Christmas, if not all year round.

But the key here is not simply to share your content, it’s to work with relevant Pinterest influencers – those with thousands, if not millions, of followers. With this approach, there is certainly huge potential for viral reach for specific products.

Sales

This may seem incredible, but Pinterest has been shown to drive more sales than any other social media network. Including Facebook.

But quite simply the most interesting development in terms of ecommerce on Pinterest is the introduction of buy buttons, enabling customers to make purchases there and then. No hassle.

Only a recent introduction, it’s hard to say what effect the buttons are having right now, but they certainly have the potential to change the face of online sales.

Twitter – Targeted Traffic, Brand Conversation

Twitter Targeting

Twitter’s been a bit on the back foot recently, showing relative stagnation and ongoing problems within its management team.

However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that Twitter is still a prime contender, especially when it comes to real time marketing and advertising.

Targeted Traffic

Twitter cards and highly targeted advertising make Twitter one of the most cost-effective advertising options, capable of achieving fantastic viral results with the right content and approach.

Those you reach probably won’t convert as well as on Facebook, but the traffic you do receive will be highly targeted and engaged.

Brand Conversation

With the right approach, you can also leverage Twitter to generate an online conversation around a product launch using Twitter chats.

The benefits of this are potentially huge, enabling you to connect with customers, create lasting relationships, increase brand recognition and awareness and stay up to date with the demands of your customer base.

Instagram – Brand Recognition

Without a fully fledged advertising platform and lack of linking facility, you may have noticed that measuring outcomes on Instagram is difficult.

Brand Recognition

That said, there’s potentially no better way to improve recognition of your brand this Christmas than a focused Instagram campaign. The fact of the matter is that Instagram is all about images, and images provide the best way to get into the minds of your customer base.

A number of brands – Nike, GAP – are using Instagram directly and to great effect, but going one step further and engaging with key influencers on the platform could help your brand achieve incredible and relevant reach over the Christmas period.

YouTube – Audience Awareness

YouTube Advertising Guide

YouTube is gigantic and still growing. 4 billion videos are viewed on a daily basis. It has 1 billion users.

Audience Awareness

Whether you’re curating your own videos or, more importantly, placing ads in other people’s, YouTube offers the potential for truly massive reach.

And because you only pay for engaged views – 30 seconds or more – you can be sure that your spend is only having a positive effect.

A combination of YouTube ads and engaging influencers and vloggers on the platform can help you achieve an engaged following on a wide scale and generate a festive buzz around new and upcoming products.

As you can see, Christmas marketing ideas are different across each of the main social media networks. Not all objectives can be best achieved on any one channel, and it’s good practice to focus efforts on different platforms with specific goals in mind.

Looking to raise brand recognition? Instagram could be the platform to consider. Want to get your message across to a large and highly targeted audience? Facebook may well be the best option for you.

However, it’s also clear that to make the most of any of these channels influencer PR is vital. You may have an established following, but by leveraging the following of relevant influencers you could multiply your potential audience, especially at Christmas, by a factor of 10.