Suddenly summer feels like it’s just round the corner.  After a few dry weeks and some welcome sunshine here in the UK, day trips to the beach or long weekends in town and country are on many people’s minds.

But summer can be challenging for marketers, with customers distracted, outdoors or absent all together in foreign climes.

A traditional solution for some is to turn down their effort, saving budget for a rainier day, but if what you sell is connected to the outdoors or travel – this is the prime time for promoting your offer or USP.

Whether its sun cream or showerproofs, tents or sheds, books or hotel beds, train trips or even travel insurance – now is the time to grab attention and secure market share for a long hot summer of sales.

With people’s attention increasingly elsewhere, communicating your great product experience or value through most traditional means is competitive, expensive and increasingly ineffective.  Online has more and more options for reaching people with impactful and measurable results – and when it’s done right – social is the jewel in the digital crown.

Viral, engaging, relevant, highly targeted and easily measurable – social media campaigns are a hugely effective way to reach people whilst they are researching, booking, arranging and taking their sunshine leisure time.

Here are 5 key tactics to consider for your summer social media sales campaign:

Images

People love to tell stories of their travel in pictures and people travel more in the summer – so it stands to reason that people take more pictures in the summer and if they are taking more pictures, they’re sharing more too.

Fact:  over 85% of the content shared from people’s Facebook timelines are images!

Photo contests are a great option for engaging an active audience and there are plenty of social options for these kind of promotions. Having run many campaigns of this type, we’ve shared a few relevant learnings below.

Despite Instagram’s popularity, most people aren’t great photographers so be careful not to make your contest too demanding.  Make it easy for people to either share an existing picture or take one that doesn’t require too much effort. For broad engagement ask people to have fun participating – smiling customers look great on your Facebook page.

photo upload image

If you want to raise awareness for future sales or visitors, a great tactic is to ask people to take a picture of something emotionally connected to the use of your product, destination or experience. Here are a couple of examples!

For both you’ll get some lovely personal pictures that make potential customers really think about the experience of buying your clothes or travelling to your summer beaches.

You can collect data from Facebook only submissions and use a simple follow up email with a targeted offer as a simple and effective way to generate sales.

This isn’t an option using popular image only platforms like Instagram, where you’d use a unique hashtag to collect entries.  The value here is audience reach and brand awareness and the possibility that (with the right hashtag) you might trigger viral sharing – boosting participation massively.

See our Instagram promotion for IHG Rewards Club here – we had 3,000 images submitted for the campaign!

Mobile

It’s summer and everybody’s outdoors – not tethered to a computer right?

Right – but many are still connected on mobile and tablet and the great user experience with native social apps on these devices means people are even more likely to engage through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram whilst out and about.

mobile device outdoors

To make any outdoor focused promotion effective, build it around simple-to-use functionality like hashtags for entry via Instagram and Twitter.  For Facebook make your applications super mobile-friendly, with clear calls to action and bold, uncomplicated messages.

A compelling reward and simple entry mechanism will maximise entries giving you great opt-in customer data – a perfect place to start efforts to convert your new audience with an offer.

Influencers

Coverage with blog influencers is an excellent way to connect with potential customers, especially when they are researching travel or purchasing decisions, looking for recommendations and peer reviews.

Articles, features, product reviews, photo galleries, interviews, competitions and coupon offers can all do a great job at raising awareness for your offering at key times – and drive some sales too.

For canny marketers, this approach is becoming a bit more common and you may find yourself competing for the best of the blogging talent, so how to get the edge here and guarantee you really get noticed when it counts?

One strategy we’ve had great success with is taking seemingly niche content from our clients (…let’s say a crime novel) and using it with influencers and bloggers from another seemingly un-related interest area (…say travel).

The article we’d pitch here could be, “Your Top 10 Travel Reads this Summer” or “Perfect books for Perfect Holiday Views”.  Because the content is featured on a travel blog, it secures great stand-out on the site and often generates better than usual comments and engagement from readers. We’ve mixed and matched Spa Resorts and Fashion bloggers – “What to wear on the Beach” and flavoured coverage for Tourist Destinations with Foodie writers – “Best Summer recipes with this unique local produce”.

This impactful, thought out contextualised coverage is a winning formula for raising awareness and driving a some high quality traffic – and quality traffic converts!

Partnerships

When activation of your big summer social media campaign is the challenge, ambitious commercial partnerships offer a great way to maximise your organic reach, save media spend and increase sales with highly relevant niche audiences.

Plan summer partners who can offer you a sizeable audience and strong engagement on their own social media channels.

Partner combinations here could be:

This service comes as standard for our bigger campaigns and we’ve written an informative and useful guide to this common sense commercial approach – (read more).

Incentives

Our final tactic is an obvious one for driving sales – but in social nothing is quite as straight forward as it seems.

We’ve had great success with offering discount vouchers and coupons on campaigns selling everything from high end outdoor wear and travel insurance to spa breaks, but there’s sometimes real value in offering a low cost prize that’s just right for the promotion and audience.

One of the best examples of this was for a global car hire brand who wanted to increase awareness with UK holiday makers for their brand.  We ran a simple “everyone wins” promotion – giving away branded beach balls for people to take away on holiday with them – in return for their email address.

We used a simple Facebook sweepstake mechanic to gather names and our influencer network to get word out with family bloggers and travel communities.  The promotion went viral and our client distributed 10,000 beach balls to holiday makers across the UK at peak booking time for holiday car hire.

Not only was there an immediate benefit in brand awareness for bookings, but 10,000 balls went on holiday with families across the UK and Europe and did a great job bouncing brand awareness up for our client.

For more creative tactics and effective ideas to drive sales and more from social media, contact us here.