steal targets instagram holiday strategy

The businesses that experience high order volume during the holidays all have something in common – they know how to command a presence on social media. Sales driven by social media – or social commerce – are becoming increasingly important year after year.

One of the most active and heavily trafficked social media sites is Instagram, which boasts about 1 billion monthly users. That’s enough to put it in the number 2 spot of biggest social sites, right below Facebook. This year, brands should use strategic Instagram posts to help drive sales.

In regard to why social commerce (and Instagram in particular) are key to revving up holiday sales, here are a couple of quick facts you may like to know:

  • In Q1 2019, social commerce accounted for 9.1% of inbound ecommerce traffic.
  • Sales driven by social commerce are estimated to reach $29.3 Billion in 2020.
  • The average value of a sale referred through Instagram is $65. Out of all social media channels, this is the second highest order value.
  • 50% of consumers follow a brand’s social media channels to be notified about discount offers.

Why are we highlighting Instagram above other social channels? Because Instagram is image dense and light on content. It’s an ideal channel to show off products and let your items do the talking for you (some text is expected, of course).

Hashtags are used and searched often, granting you ample opportunity to connect with a wider audience than just your followers. Even though all ages have been shown to use Instagram, the heaviest user demographic is under the age of 30.

Because of the younger average age of users, the overall tone is expected to be light, fun and engaging. Instagram is a great outlet for you to share your brand in a creative and captivating way.

To master holiday Instagram marketing and capitalize on sales, do what Target does. They win with their clever, imaginative and inviting posts.


1. Involve the audience.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to ask them a question. This can be holiday themed, but keep it centered on your brand and what you offer. For example, if you sell books, ask your followers their favorite novel to cozy up to during winter months.

Another good way to do this is to post something humorous, silly, or even a little controversial and ask followers to tag their friends that could relate.

Target does this as a way that seamlessly displays their products, without feeling pushy or too promotional. And if you haven’t noticed, there are 1,100 comments on this picture. Take that as a cue that people want to get involved in the conversation. Give them an opportunity to do so.

holiday instagram marketing idea 1: involve your audience


2. Start a debate.

Nothing too impassioned, of course – just something that may make followers jump at the chance to share their thoughts. Keep it centered on the holidays, like – white vs. color lights, eggnog vs. hot chocolate, turkey vs. ham for holiday dinners…you get the gist.

If you sell fashion, you could post two party outfit options with very different styles, and ask followers to pick their favorite. Whatever you decide to discuss, make sure your product is a feature.

Target could have taken their naughty vs. nice post a step further and received more engagement by asking followers to “like” if they are nice and tag a friend in a comment if they’re getting coal in their stocking this year. This post only has 31 comments vs. the 1,100 seen in the post from above.

start a debate on instagram


3. Promote your items.

This one is pretty obvious, but it takes tact to do it masterfully. You want to keep it fun and engaging, without followers feeling like they are being sold to. When it comes to promotional posts, you need to find a balance between clever and converting.

If done right, these posts are highly effective – a reported 33% of consumers act on a brand’s promotion. Use pictures of your items in use (no stock photos allowed!), and be clear about what you’re offering in terms of discounts or BOGO deals.

Though Target does not offer a specific promotion associated with these pajamas, its still a great example of how to creatively advertise your items.

holiday instagram marketing idea 3: promote your products on target


4. Create urgency.

Here is your chance to call out last-minute shoppers (in a friendly way, of course). A sense of urgency or missing out on deals encourages buyers to follow through with the purchase. A study by Marketing Experiments concluded the following.

  • In one case, a time-sensitive $100 savings incentive with a deadline increased conversions on that item by 992%.
  • In another report, mentioning the quantity of the product left increased conversion rates by 500%.

Tell followers what items are running out, which ones have a time-sensitive deal and which are limited edition. Make sure they know the clock is ticking.

create urgency when posting


5. Share user content.

Invite followers to share pictures of their finds, buys, and how they are using your items this holiday season. Create a campaign-specific hashtag, and ask that followers post their pictures with the hashtag and tag your brand. “Regram” as many of your follower pictures as you can.

Giving them some time in the limelight will help strengthen their attachment to your brand, and will have a positive impact on other followers as well.

If you followed along during our emotional marketing series, you’ll remember that brands that can establish an emotional connection with customers can effectively charge up to 200% more than competitors. Besides, who wouldn’t want super cute pictures like this in their Instagram feed?

share your user's content on your profile


6. Use pop culture.

Having pop culture references in your posts helps establish your brand as a relevant presence that can contribute to the conversation. When done right, pop culture posts show off your product in a way that drives high engagement, without being pushy or promotional.

There is a very fine line to nailing this. Followers can smell inauthentic or forced posts from a mile away and will call out bogus attempts to blend in.

Some brands are pros (remember Arby’s Phrarrell Grammy tweet?), while others – like this list of brands who try to force millennial slang – fail miserably. Not too long ago we put together some rules on how to seamlessly blend pop culture into your social media presence, but as a general rule – if you have to look up what “on fleek” means, you probably shouldn’t use it.

Target does a great job of blending pop culture and their products in timely and authentic posts.

use pop culture references on instagram


Make it your own

For those that haven’t read the book Steal like an artist, I invite you to check it out. While we mention stealing Target’s ideas, we don’t actually mean recreate each post above and paste it on your Instagram profile. Take these ideas listed above, make them your own and fit it to your target audience.

And if I were you, I’d start planning your Instagram holiday posts today. After all, 40% of consumers begin holiday shopping before Halloween.


social media calendar
Holiday Social Media Calendar Template

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