marketing and communications agencyWhile many of us may just be starting to think about the holidays, some retailers have been busy marketing for months. Retailers aren’t just advertising through the television, radio and internet anymore; they’re saving money by marketing themselves with social media year round. Regardless of your industry or the season, there are a few tips you can learn from holiday retailers who promote themselves through social media.

1. JCPenney uses their Facebook page for both customer service and marketing. They welcome comments and complaints on their Facebook wall, and they are quick to respond to both, which is key in today’s viral world. JCPenney is also interactive with their customers on Facebook by posting pictures of sale items, links to fashion and style videos and creative polls. They have over 2 million Facebook “likes.”

2. Walmart, one of the most-visited retailers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, uses Twitter to announce sales and layaways, but more importantly, to communicate with their customers. A recent tweet said, “Who watched the Sesame PBS special last night about hunger? What did you think? Photo w/ some of our muppet friends.” This tweet clearly isn’t about Walmart, but that’s okay. The tweet allowed Walmart to interact with their customers and vice versa, which will pay off.

So what can we learn from JCPenney and Walmart? Listen to what your customers are saying on social media websites and respond appropriately when you’re marketing yourself or your company this year. Don’t be afraid to post neutral material on your Facebook or Twitter that isn’t directly related to your organization or company. Postings of fun videos, questions or polls will help you interact with your customers and get them talking in a positive way.

Have you used social media for your marketing and communications? If so, what techniques do you use to keep in touch with your customers? If not, would you consider doing so? Why or why not?