Social media isn’t a 9-to-5 job in retail, especially at Christmas


That title should be quite an obvious statement to most, but a number of stores seem to need reminding of it in the busy run up to the holidays this year.

At a time when capturing consumer attention is fraught with more noise than ever, any sort of social activity that has the ability to cut through should not be restricted to the standard Monday to Friday routine. Yet many of them are…

Not to pick on John Lewis, but in this instance it’s the most obvious example. The UK department store has been running an advent calendar competition via Twitter with the hashtag #JLChristmas.

A nice incentive-based initiative (and no doubt a traffic driver), it invites @johnlewisretail followers to guess what festive treat is behind the door of its advent house to be in with a chance of winning it.

Every day between 10am and 3pm, it tweets out clues. At 4pm it then reveals the answer as well as a winner. Every day except Saturday and Sunday that is.

As the press release reads: “We won’t be running our competition on Saturdays or Sundays, but that means we’ll be giving away three lovely prizes instead of just one each Monday so there are even more chances for you to win.”

You could argue it’s because Mondays are the strongest selling days for e-commerce over the holidays, which would be fair. But in this case, that’s thoroughly illogical. If the aim was to increase traffic on a Monday you could still up the content on those days while maintaining the usual over the weekend too. For the record, eBay UK expected Sunday, December 2 to be its busiest online shopping day of the year.

So the simple answer, of course, is resources. Retail marketing is not a 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday job. It hasn’t been for a very long time. It certainly isn’t now, yet with social it’s frequently still seen like it is.

Customer service departments are a lot better at working around the clock (M&S has doubled the number of those in its e-commerce call centre), but enormous marketing opportunities are being lost by brands who only focus on pushing out messages at the times they’re also sat in the office. How many of the individuals on such teams then go home and browse through Facebook, or better yet do a spot of online shopping themselves I wonder?

And that’s exactly the point.

As Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of DreamWorks Animation, famously said: “If you don’t come to work on Saturdays, don’t bother to come in on Sunday.” Not a bad takeaway for Christmas traders…