Christmas season is here, which means that it’s time for your business to up its social media game. Even if you’re running a brick and mortar based store, it isn’t enough to simply put up a beautiful display and put some products on sale. You need your online presence to be incredibly strong because so many customers are choosing to shop online these days. Additionally, social media is a great way to find new customers. Millennials and Gen Zers especially are using the Internet to find out about where they can find the best deals and the most exciting new products.

One of the most important social media platforms is Instagram, which is why you need to master it this holiday season. By using the right strategies, you’ll get more followers, more customers, and more sales--and get more attention than your competitors. Here’s how.

Understand what your customers want

Social media, at the end of the day, is a way for you to connect with your customers on a personal level. It’s where they’re going to engage with you as a brand, and keep coming back for content that’s targeted to them. They’ll even re-post some of your pictures, and comment, tagging friends who they think might benefit from buying your newest product. So the better you understand what your customers want, the better you’ll do on Instagram.

If you’ve been running your business a while, chances are you’ve already created some buyer personas and know who your ideal customer is. But with such a busy season as Christmas, you need to even better. Send out surveys in your newsletter (and DM followers on Instagram), with a chance for customers to win a gift card when they fill it out. Use free Instagram analytics tools to understand your followers’ behavior, and what is most effective about what you’re doing on Instagram. Stalk your followers, and find out who’s following your competitors. This way, you can improve your Instagram aesthetic, decide what content to include in posts and Stories, and other factors such as how much to slash prices in sales.

Considering that 60 percent of users find products on Instagram, knowing who your audience is will make a huge difference to your sales.

Connect with influencers, and engage constantly with followers

Social media wouldn’t be what it is if it weren’t for the fact that so many people are on it. That’s why you have to think of it as a party where making as many connections as possible can help you on the journey to success. And during a busy time like the holiday season, it’s not a bad idea to hang out at this party with the cool kids: that is, influencers. There’s so much stress about what to buy and what to spend during this time of year, and by partnering with an influencer, you’ll suddenly have someone on your side who your customer base understands and trusts. To find someone to work with, look up industry hashtags related to your business--and if you’re a local brick-and-mortar-based business, see if there are local community influencers near you, too.

Another way to up your engagement is by using the right hashtags. According to HubSpot, “an Instagram post with at least one hashtag averages 12.6 percent more engagement than a post with no hashtags… Hashtags are powerful. They can help your posts reach a target audience, attract followers in your niche, increase engagement, and develop a more positive and recognizable brand image.” So use industry-related trending hashtags (especially seasonal ones, such as #christmassale), and hashtags related specifically to your business.

Then, once you’ve gotten on your followers’ radar, you can engage with people who follow you, like posts, and comment. If you need some extra help with this, use a service like Social Gone Viral so you can focus more on your content and running your store.

Use Instagram Stories

Finally, Instagram Stories are a great way to get customer attention. Because these are stories posted daily that then disappear, it’s a great way to get customers excited about sales and sweepstakes. You can also post cute holiday-themed videos of your staff all dressed as elves, or of how you make customized toys, or anything else that you think will get your customers checking in with you each day. Especially if you’ve got lots of younger customers, this is a smart idea.

Considering that Instagram Stories now has twice as many daily users as Snapchat’s service, this is a great way to get more engagement.

These are some of the best ways to up your Instagram engagement during the busy Christmas season. What other ways do you get customer attention on social media?

Author's Bio: 

Author, Freelance writer