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Think big, shop small: How to rev up your small business holiday marketing strategy

The events of 2020 have been far from kind to small businesses, with some reports estimating 25-36% could close permanently as a result of COVID-19. In hopes of salvaging small businesses, nearly 83% of consumers would now rather shop at small, local businesses than a big corporation. As small businesses ramp up their holiday marketing strategies, they can take advantage of this trend and capitalize on events like Small Business Saturday, which falls on November 28 this year.

To identify more small business holiday tips and uncover ways marketers can leverage people’s desire to support local and small businesses this holiday season, we used our Sprout superpower: social listening. In the last 12 weeks, between September 1 and November 22, we captured more than 1.5 million Tweets related to small businesses from over 688,500 unique authors.

Even though it’s evident that the struggle is still very real for small business owners, the listening data we gathered from Twitter showed that there is hope yet. People are eager to shop small, show support and spread awareness and joy to SMBs.

Shopping close-to-home for the holidays

Throughout the pandemic, people have been staying close-to-home and now they’re looking to shop close-to-home as well. The top five most frequently used hashtags in conversations about small businesses were:

  1. #ShopLocal – used in 130,314 Tweets
  2. #ShopSmall – used in 109,737 Tweets
  3. #SmallBusiness – used in 48,220 Tweets
  4. #SupportLocal – used in 16,730 Tweets
  5. #SupportSmallBusiness – used in 16,356 Tweets

Twitter conversations about Small Business Saturday are quickly gaining steam as the holiday approaches. Since November 1, the message volume around the topic has increased by 252%. In the final stretch leading up to the shopping holiday, small businesses can leverage hashtags like #SmallBizSat and #SmallBusinessSaturday to further boost their small business holiday marketing strategy.

There is a sense of urgency that comes with the calls-to-action to #ShopSmall and #ShopLocal because there are real fears that some of our favorite small businesses may not survive. Over 311,300 Tweets about small businesses in the last 12 weeks included the word “help” or “support,” suggesting that consumers are aware of the challenges small businesses are facing and want to show their support.

There are several benefits to shopping locally, especially in an economically challenged area. Data shows that local businesses return 52% of their revenue back into the local economy, whereas national chain retailers return just 14%. Many consumers might not know this. Small business owners and marketers should use Twitter to amplify the benefits of shopping small and provide updates on business information, their differentiators and initiatives to drive additional support.

Engage, expand and be merry

Engagement is essential for small business holiday marketing. Don’t hesitate to strike up or join conversations on Twitter to increase your business’s visibility. The platform is an effective medium for creating real connections and reaching new customers.

Marketers for SMBs should consider responding to Tweet threads with high visibility for increased awareness. For instance, American journalist Dan Rather, who has over 1.6 million Twitter followers, continually Tweets about supporting independent, local bookstores. Threaded on those Tweets are messages from consumers and brands directing people to those small businesses. The 14 messages from Rather that popped up in the small business listening topic aggregated over 23.3 million impressions and 86,400 engagements.

Similarly, Lili Reinhart, famous for her role in “Riverdale,” asked her 3.2 million followers for suggestions for small businesses from which she could purchase her Christmas decor. Fans responded with their favorites, but this type of request is also an opportunity for small business owners or marketers to raise their hands and expand their reach.

Another effective awareness play for independent business owners and artisans is quite simple and gives people a way to support SMBs for free. In the listening topic, we found that 855 people Tweeted a version of the message, “It costs $0.00 to RT and support a small business. My next customer could be on your timeline.” The Tweets came from a relatively small group, but together, the messages garnered just under 1.1 million engagements, 2.7 million impressions and 577 engagements per message. Never underestimate the power of a Retweet.

#BuyBlack Friday

Small businesses as a whole had a tough year, but an estimated 41% of Black-owned small businesses became inactive during the pandemic, compared to 17% of white-owned businesses. This is devastating, to say the least, but people are rallying around Black and minority business owners.

Tweets with hashtags and keywords related to Black and minority-owned businesses garnered over 225,000 engagements, 299 million impressions and a 58% positive sentiment rating. Driving a lot of that are big brands and prominent figures who have teamed up to create initiatives that support black businesses and raise awareness among consumers.

Instead of hyping the typical Black Friday sales and promotions, Google and Wyclef Jean came together to boost #BlackOwnedFriday. Every Friday leading up to Black Friday, Google is using its social platforms to highlight unique Black-owned businesses in the hopes of helping customers find new favorites to support. Brands can also join in by downloading a full kit of custom designs and GIFs created by Google for them to post on their own social platforms.

There’s more in store for small and local businesses

Small Business Saturday is right around the corner, but it’s not too late for businesses to tap into Twitter conversations to build brand awareness and connect with new customers. The holiday season may come and go quickly, but the belief in doing the right thing for your community will last well after the Christmas lights come down.

Continue sharpening your social strategy through the holiday season and beyond with our complete guide to small business marketing.



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