The Elf on the Shelf® has quickly become a nationwide phenomenon. Adopted elves are in thousands of families’ homes, watching to see if children are naughty or nice and reporting back to Santa at the North Pole. Upon their return each night, they often play games and are discovered in the morning midway through their mischievous antics. (For a look at some of these shenanigans, visit this The Elf on the Shelf® Pinterest board.)
The team of elves at The Elf on the Shelf® are tapping social media to connect with families and using Shoutlet to execute their plans. The “elves” took a break from their holiday preparations to answer a few questions for us about how they’re using social media and how they keep the magic of the holiday alive on the social web throughout the year.
1. The Elf on the Shelf® has seen incredible growth in the past several years. How do you think social media has helped this?
Social media is very important to The Elf on the Shelf® because it gives everyone at the North Pole access to all the fans and families that have adopted the tradition! Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and our new social community, the North Pole Playground, help us keep in touch with our core audience in fun and creative ways year round! Social media has expanded the ways that the North Pole can interact with the rest of the world at any given time, and while it continues to change and grow – so do we!
2. The elves have become a phenomenon everyone talks about during the holidays. How have customer comments, photos, and videos influenced your social media program? How do you leverage this content?
Of course! The Head Elf spends hours upon hours each and every day going through comments, photos, videos, and everything else in between and by seeing what families love and find interesting, we have been able to take that content and put it to good use – whether it’s featuring it on our page or creating something our fans have asked for. During the holiday season, we get thousands of comments, photos, and videos each day and we make sure to go through them all for inspiration!
3. As a holiday-focused brand, The Elf on the Shelf® has its most active season in the last quarter of the year. What’s your strategy for keeping your social media fresh and relevant throughout the year?
Every day at the North Pole feels like a celebration, so we try to take that specialness and apply it to the world of social media – giving our audience a little bit of Christmas magic with each and every interaction whether it’s a Facebook status update or a new activity sheet pinned to Pinterest. Since elves love to have a reason to celebrate anything, we try to base our social media presence as fresh and relevant as possible – so all the elves can get in on the year-round fun!
4. Lately visual content has been a major topic of discussion. How do you tap into this on your social media presences? How has Pinterest played a role in this effort?
Visual content is very important to us. Since the North Pole is such a private place, we like to share as much as we can through images. We recently rolled out a new program called Elfcam, which gives our social media followers a sneak peek at what goes on around the workshop and a look into some of the fun things we do. Since The Elf on the Shelf® families love to take pictures of their own elf and share them with us, visual content is endless. Pinterest is a new platform for us to explore, but last season – we were in awe at all The Elf on the Shelf® families posting images of the funny and memorable antics their elves participated in. We look at the use of visual content as a great way to share the specialness that is The Elf on the Shelf® and the relationship it has with families all over!
5. Brand voice is an important part of social media outreach. You’re doing some fun things with the voice of Santa’s elves, such as signing tweets with “xo, #ScoutElves.” Tell us a bit about how you found this voice and how you use this in your social media messaging.
We try to stay as true to our voice as we possibly can here at The Elf on the Shelf®. Working for Santa and living each and every day as an elf helps us communicate to our audience in an authentic way similar to our daily communications at the North Pole. For example, signing our tweets “xo, #ScoutElves” is a personalized touch we established after one of our techie bloggers, Widget, coined it over on The Elf on the Shelf® blog in 2011. Being consistent in our voice and messaging not only helps to solidify the brand, but it also makes Santa very happy!
6. What have been successful holiday social efforts you’ve executed in the past?
In 2011, The Elf on the Shelf® had its first movie premiere of An Elf’s Story at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. To raise awareness for the charity, Santa asked some of his celebrity friends to tweet about The Elf on the Shelf® and of course, they did. Also, last year, for the first time, we sent Santa out on Christmas Eve with a smart phone and he had his techie elves, Widget and Scroller, help post updates from where he was in the world! Santa was able to communicate through social media all of his travels and holiday surprises!
7. You recently concluded a holiday photo contest on Facebook that will send one family to New York to see the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which includes a balloon of The Elf on the Shelf®. Can you give us a sneak peek at what else is in store for holiday 2012?
The Elf on the Shelf® loves to have fun especially during the holiday season, so you can expect a lot of exciting content throughout the month of November and December. Beyond our coverage of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and spreading Christmas cheer amongst our social platforms, The Elf on the Shelf® is planning to focus on giving back to those who serve in the armed forces. Starting in November, we will encourage all of our social media followers to write a letter to a soldier and we will make sure they are delivered straight from the North Pole to those overseas by Christmas!
8. For other social media managers reading this, what’s one tip you’d give, based on the success you’ve had?
The Elf on the Shelf®’s social media success comes from carrying Christmas in our hearts. By staying true to the brand and always focusing on the things that matter most to our audience, we have been able to build successful, interactive platforms that both kids and adults can enjoy year round!
The Elf on the Shelf® spirit has even come to Shoutlet headquarters. Look who we found playing in our Madison, Wisconsin office!