How Target is Planning to Dominate the Holiday Season

Target is juicing up their social media campaign just in time for the holidays, using Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and other platforms to capitalize on this shopping frenzy. Just to show how dedicated they are to social, Target has increased social media marketing spending by 30% for the holiday season. Colleen McDuffe, senior director of social media at Target said, “Holiday this year represents Target’s most ambitious social spend for a single campaign…For the first time, Target will be leveraging Snapchat to engage our guests during the holidays.” The two goals for Target this Holiday season are to start early and to be more social.

This campaign comes at a good time for Target, seeing as they have struggled recently in the social media category. For being ranked 36th on the Fortune 500, Target ranks just 325 in the 2015 Social Media 500 (a database that ranks retailers based on the percentage of their overall traffic coming from social networks).  Last year just 3.14% of Target’s traffic came from social networks. This year, Target is dedicating 61% of its media spending to digital, an increase from last years 51%.

The result of this increased spending is The Holiday Odyssey, a season long campaign that starts from early holiday planning going through the end of the holidays. The first episode went live on October 30th through Youtube, followed by ads on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest on Nov. 4. So how exactly is Target using social media across different platforms?

On Facebook, Target is starting to use Facebook Canvas, an ad unit that gives shoppers an array of images. This allows shoppers to browse through products in a simple platform without having to leave Facebook. If users decides they want to purchase a product, they are taken to This helps drives Target traffic without immediately taking consumers away from Facebook. Target has tried using cleaner and simpler Facebook ads to entice users engagement. Here is an example of their Black Friday ad on Facebook, viewed almost 3 million times. Target will also be using Facebook’s canvas e-commerce ads to increase sales of Wonderpacks, craft-activity packs that help families make things like ugly sweaters and mistletoe.


Facebook’s e-commerce ads in action

On Instagram, Target is using Instagram’s Marquee, an ad unit that helps generate brand awareness and expand the reach of the brand. This ad unit can help bring awareness to larger events, such as Target’s 10 Days of Deals special.

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 9.34.02 PMTarget is also using Pinterest to present customers with buyable pins, allowing customers to purchase products directly within a pin on the social network’s mobile app. For example, a shopper could click through a Thanksgiving recipe, adding certain ingredients to the Instacart.


I don’t use Pinterest, but this looks handy 

On Snapchat, Target is unveiling a series of holiday filters. They already released ones for Thanksgiving and Black Friday and they plan to release a new one everyday between December 1st and Christmas. With these new filters, Target will be looking to increase consumer engagement by reaching the 100+ million snapchat users. This will be the first time Target uses Snapchat for holiday marketing, so it will be interesting to see how it turns out.

Conclusion: I believe Target’s increased spending and strategy of utilizing a multitude of social media platforms will lead to a drastic increase in traffic and engagement for the retailer.


Shown by L2’s Digital IQ index, Target is already doing well in 2015 on Facebook amongst retailers. While they are posting less frequently than other retailers, they are seeing positive engagement numbers. Through putting out more content during the holiday season, Target’s positive engagement numbers will drive the Target’s traffic. I am interested to see how often I notice Target in the social media space over the coming month.


  1. Thank you for sharing this post. It is very fascinating to see Target join in the race, with social media. It takes companies some time to understand the importance of social media, for them to decide to start using it to their own benefit. I was impressed to see Target increasing their social media marketing spending by 30% for the holiday season, and even more impressed to see the company dedicating 61% of its media spending to digital. I loved the Fb Canvas idea, and the Instagram Marquee was totally new to me too. Using Pinterest and Snapchat is a big transition for the company. I loved the pictures you posted. They helped explain the content greatly. I am looking forward to see the effect their social media marketing will have on Target’s Sales, ROI and financials. Thanks for sharing again!!

  2. This is a great post! It seems that Target has a very clear strategy on its social media campaigns. It’s a fascinating idea to try out different social media platforms and strategically use them differently based on the features and advantages of these platforms: Facebook Canvas for images, Instagram’s Marquee for brand awareness, Pinterest pins for mobile purchase, and recent Snapchat holiday filters for more customer engagement. I also like that you illustrate Target’s use of each platforms one by one with pictures. I’m also very surprised by how quickly and dramatically Target increases its traffic from social media! It’s definitely evidence of the efficiency and effectiveness of its strategy on social media. But I also notice that companies do develop very different strategies in terms of successful social media engagement, some of them like Target actively use a series of popular social platforms to build up broad brand awareness, while some others deliberately choose only one or two platforms to deepen engagement of their target market. Very interesting and worth thinking! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Target is definitely moving in the right direction with the new social media engagement campaign. They are posting important and creative material instead of flooding the social media pages with as much material as possible. I think other brands can learn from this strategy because it is not about simply pushing posts in front of consumers, it is about carefully exhibiting material consumers care, which draws attention and raises awareness.

    I am wondering if this strategy is strong enough to win against Walmart, Target’s most sought after competitor. This will raise target’s awareness with consumers; however, Target needs a complete rebranding. People see Walmart as the lowest prices around, while people don’t really know what to associated Target with. If Target rebrands to differentiate itself from Walmart using the new social media engagement, this will really lead to success for the company.

  4. This is a great post! I am totally obsess with Targets marketing, I think they do a great job with their marketing strategy (I will love to work on that marketing team), I think they are everywhere. For me is impressive to see their marketing in every media. They are all the time in TV commercials like The Holiday Odyssey, which I feel is really cool because it invites costumers to go on social media to finish the story. I really like the commercial about The 10 day of Deals they did for Thanksgiving, which I didn’t know they were also doing it through Instagram. I really like this commercial, because everyday they had a different want depending on the deal, which makes it not be so repetitive.
    I don’t follow Target neither on Instagram nor Facebook, but it seems they have a really good strategy in both. I really like when companies use different types of information or ads in different social medias, because it means they understand the different uses of each one. Sometimes is really annoying when you follow a brand and they say the same thing in every media. I think Target is one of the best companies doing advertisement, because they understand that the customer doesn’t want to see the same ad a million times or the same communication through social media. I remember watching the falls Target commercials, and it felt like every 3 days they had a new one on air. Finally, I love the Target snapchat filters, the think I most like, ties up with what I was taking before, is that they change every couple of days, so it feels really refreshing.

  5. This was an awesome post! As we’ve gone through the semester I’ve started to pay attention to big company’s presence on social media. I saw their black friday filter and I look forward to using their christmas ones as soon as they unveil! I have noticed Target ramp up their social media presence leading up to the Holiday season. At the beginning of the semester they had a number of snapchat filters relating to back to college and ‘nerding out’. I think they’re doing a really great job with snapchat and engaging with a generation of users they may have been missing out last year. I know I’ll definitely be going to target to do some of my holiday shopping.

  6. I really enjoyed reading this post and learning more about Target’s social media campaign for the holiday season. Your blog concluded by showing that target is doing pretty well in terms of customer engagement among retailers for 2015. Target’s resurgence is a testament to the fact that it is not merely about having a social media presence but more about engaging customers which can translate to increase in sales revenue. By increasing its social media marketing spending by 30% for this holiday season and having better customer engagement, we can conclude that Target is moving in the right direction. It would be interested to see how Target matches up to Ikea, Walmart and other leaders in the field by the end of the holiday season.

  7. Hey Hunter, based on your findings and detailed explanation, I agree that Target’s social push should lead to increased engagement, traffic, and perhaps profit for the company. What I found valuable was the consistency that seems to exist across all social platforms. Regardless of the space, the brand has made an effort to establish a voice through sticking to their Holiday Odyssey campaign. With this in mind, Target is certainly utilizing advanced technology to reach consumers. Through targeted advertising, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of and engaged by the company during the start of this holiday season. Such an effort is a great example of how the capabilities provided to companies by social can help to drive business innovation and profit. Aside from potential purchases, I am interested to see how the brand will engage its followers within the weeks leading up to the holidays.

  8. Great post! Target is realizing the power of the social and digital markets and is going after it. Its amazing to see how much they dedicated to social media and digital commerce this year compared to past years. I’m defintiely noticing it already. On snapchat Target has been putting ads in between snapstories that are universal to all snapchat users. Also, I have been noticing Target’s ads on facebook. I even came home to my mom going through Target’s catalog. Target is going after consumers from every direction; we’ll see if it pays off!

  9. ariellebudney · ·

    Nice post! It’s interesting to see how Target is planning to increase their awareness and engagement over the holidays. I’ve never thought of Target as having a strong social media presence, so these new campaigns seem like a way to give them more influence. I think when you’re a big company on multiple social platforms, it’s important to use different strategies to drive engagement. Companies can’t simply take the same ad and repeat it on multiple platforms because it will lead to fatigue; consumers become tired of ads if they’re seen too much and they become a nuisance. It seems like Target is attempting to avoid this by using each platform differently, and tailoring the message accordingly. I also love the idea of the snapchat filter, especially changing them daily. This holiday strategy seems like a great way to increase engagement with customers, and it will be interesting to see how effective it is and if they decide to maintain their social presence after the holidays.

  10. Hi Hunter, cool post. I liked your detailed analysis of the strategy and use of the different platforms that Target is pursuing this holiday season a lot. I’m sure that now that I’ve read it I’ll notice Target ads popping up all over my feed (not having noticed any in particular to date). It’s cool to see already that their commitment to social media appears to be paying off, and they’re clearly also getting people engaged and wanting for more by hinting at future campaigns etc. Looks like a lot of other big box retailers have their work cut out for them with Target leading the pack on social media. Thanks for sharing!

  11. Interesting to see how more traditional retailers are beginning to use digital tools in more innovative ways.

  12. Great post! I agree with @geraldckane, Target is a prime example of a well known retailer utilizing social media to accentuate their business. As a company, the increased spending on marketing initiatives in the digital domain portray Target’s embrace of new media, which in turn speaks volumes as to how adept the company’s marketing team is.

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