The holidays are a very lucrative—but also competitive—time of year for brands. Marketers are in a frenzy to finalize their creative and prepare months-long campaigns to help their businesses meet year-end sales goals.

Which naturally begs the question: If every brand is aiming to drive large amounts of traffic, can anyone hear the deals through the noise? One thing to remember during this time is that consumers aren’t just shopping for gifts; they’re shopping for gift ideas. More than half look for ideas and deals on social channels.

But here’s the thing—it’s hard to stand out and drive user engagement on social media. In fact, 67% of millennials say they’ve never clicked a sponsored post. The reason for this is probably that around 95% say that their most credible source of information is their friends.

[clickToTweet tweet=”67% of millennials say they’ve never clicked a sponsored post.” quote=”67% of millennials say they’ve never clicked a sponsored post. The majority (95%) say their most credible source of information is their friends.”]

When running a growth marketing strategy on social media, the best way to engage with your target audience is through influencers. Influencers—from food bloggers and YouTubers to Instagram celebrities—are far more trusted than brands. And for every dollar brands spend on influencer marketing, they can see $6.50 in return.

Here’s how major brands are creating great influencer content for holiday campaigns.

When Old Navy wanted to promote certain lines of holiday clothes, the brand decided to get an expert on the case. Meghan Rienks has 1.3 million followers on Instagram and 2 million subscribers on YouTube. Old Navy worked with Rienks to debut three different fashion styles for the holidays, which promoted the brand’s clothing lines and put Old Navy in front of Rienks’s followers.

  • Takeaway:
    Any brand can work with influencers to showcase their products in action. Even tech companies can have a user go through the user interface or talk about their brand experience. Highlighting influencers using products is a built-in testimonial—with shareable content to boot.


During the holiday season, Hallmark wanted to showcase a special ornament collection, so the team decided to work with a number of influencers who had the specific audience that Hallmark wanted to target. While they may not have the million-plus reach of big-time social media personalities, these micro-influencers can have just as big an effect by connecting different crowds around one event. For Hallmark’s campaign, each influencer took a picture of the ornament collection and linked to the product page within his or her bio.

  • Takeaway:
    By working with influencers to photograph how your product can help build special moments, you can create brand affinity that is less of a sales pitch and more experiential in nature.


I seriously wonder if tiny things could mean so much to tiny people. A small and thoughtful gift could mean so much and then as the years pass by, offer a tangible reminder of thoughtfulness and connection. This gift signifies our first year of homeschooling together and means so much to us. I love a lot of the offerings from the @Hallmark Keepsake Ornament Collection. They have the sweetest small brass ornament hooks, Keepsake miniature trees for a child’s playroom or bedroom, and darling, magical ornaments under two inches tall. SO sweet and makes a beautiful gift idea for a niece or nephew or child. Simple and thoughtful. When wrapped up in crinkle paper and a silk ribbon, they make for the smallest act of generosity plus the younger babe is generally just happy to have the crinkle paper. Win-win. Get yours via the link in my bio #KeepsakeIt Together #ad

A post shared by Johnna (@foxmeetsbear) on

Amazon wanted to get more awareness around Amazon Prime, so the company worked with YouTube influencers Ingrid Nilsen, who has 4 million subscribers, and Alex Wassabi, who has 8.5 million.

[clickToTweet tweet=”For every dollar brands spend on influencer marketing, they can see $6.50 in return.” quote=”And for every dollar brands spend on influencer marketing, they can see $6.50 in return.”]

By building the sponsorship into a preexisting story (e.g., Nilsen talked about how she wants to get something special for her dog for the holidays and used Prime to order), Amazon created engaging video content without pushing the product too hard. In the end, Nilsen’s video garnered 1.3 million views.

  • Takeaway:
    While video marketing is undoubtedly a fast-growing marketing channel, it has been challenging for brands to create popular video content. Working with YouTube celebrities, who already have established audiences, can help companies break through into video and grow a following.

Ingrid Nilsen

Alex Wassabi

For the past few years, Starbucks has hosted the #redcupcontest to encourage customers to come up with their most festive ideas for the holiday season. Winning designs are featured on Starbucks cups across 25 thousand different stores around the world. By highlighting their followers’ creativity, Starbucks gets everyone engaged and encourages participation from top fans. There have been thousands of entries, and the hashtag was shared more than 40 thousand times.

  • Takeaway:
    By crowdsourcing content, you can connect to influencers and audiences with much broader campaigns. For the holidays, you could compile different stories from influencers who work in the industry or are interested in your space.

Smaller brands can work with influencers, too. Watch brand Original Grain often features photos of their watches taken by different photographers. For the holidays, the brand showcased a watch with Christmas decorations around it.

Caitlin and Dani, the bloggers who took the picture, have around 10 thousand followers—meaning the brand still got access to a crossover audience without spending budget on paid ads.

  • Takeaway:
    You don’t have to be a Fortune 500 company to work with influencers. Microinfluencers with up to 10 thousand followers still reach a big audience and create a ripple effect among their fans.

Setting up an influencer outreach program

Identifying your influencers means identifying the audiences you want to reach. To do this, we recommend a few steps:

  • Search through hashtags
  • Post requests for expert advice at
  • See who your existing influencers follow
  • Ask influencers to recommend friends

[clickToTweet tweet=”Micro-influencers have as big an effect as celebrities by connecting different crowds around one event.” quote=”Micro-influencers can have as big an effect as the largest celebrities by connecting different crowds around one event.”]

When you’ve narrowed down the list to a handful of influencers who might work for your brand, there are 5 effective channels through which to reach out. Remember, keep your asks short and to the point:

  • Email
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Agency (if they’re represented)
  • Events
The Creative Brief

When someone has agreed to work with your brand you’ll want to send through a creative brief that outlines the requirements associated with the sponsorship. Build a creative brief that specifies the campaign objective, what success looks like, and exactly what you’re hoping the influencer will contribute in terms of design, message, and content.


To view an example of how to set up your own creative brief, and to learn more about how to run successful holiday marketing campaigns across multiple different platforms, check out our full new ebook including: