The holidays are here, and businesses everywhere are working to attract shoppers to their stores. And with nearly $617 billion in estimated sales (, it’s no surprise that businesses are getting better and better at using a sophisticated marketing mix to create extra jingle. That mix includes social media, mobile and digital campaigns. In fact, forecasts online sales growing up to 11 percent this season.

“Twitter is especially geared to help business owners target customers,” says Bernard Perrine, CEO and cofounder, SocialCentiv, a patented Twitter marketing app to help businesses find new customers. “With keywords, shops can find out who is looking for their merchandise via Tweets. When they find someone, they can Tweet directly back with an offer or discount to get that customer in the door.”

Looking for ideas for a #jollyholiday Twitter campaign? Try these five, says Perrine:

1)    Use a holiday-themed contest to increase engagement. Twitter and its hashtag language are especially great for creating a network around a contest. Ideas are limitless – anything that provides a good incentive (like winning a holiday gift set) and incorporates a hashtag works well. This will get more people engaged, make your business more visible via Twitter and increase purchases.

2)    Promote holiday specials. More than 90 percent of users say they follow businesses on Twitter to get discounts and promos (MediaBistro). Since potential customers look to Twitter for deals, providing them with holiday specials is sure to boost sales. Share holiday discounts via Twitter by running a Promoted Tweet or by sending @Replies to specific users that would be interested in the special.

3)    Increase sales and engagement with “Twitter-specific” offers. In addition to promoting existing holiday specials, create Twitter-specific specials that people can only learn about by following you on Twitter. Fun example: Cupcake bakery Sprinkles uses this tactic especially well. They post phrases on their social media accounts that users can whisper while in the store to get a discount. Not only will the discount encourage users to buy, but you will also be able to directly attribute these sales to your Twitter efforts to track their social return on investment.

4)    Engage your Twitter community with the excitement of the season! Most shoppers love a little holiday cheer. Celebrate the season with your customers and post holiday-spirited, shareable images via Twitter. Customers are likely to favorite and Retweet images, drawing more visitors to your Twitter profile and increasing the chance of holiday sales.

5)    Leverage Tweets – both positive and negative – about great holiday purchases, shopping experiences and highlights from followers suggesting others buy from your shop. Twitter’s primary purpose is for users to share thoughts, experiences and ideas through the platform. If you have great customer service, good deals and cool merchandise, you are likely to read about it. Join in the conversation with hashtags, Retweets, replies and favorites. If negative comments pop up, take the chance to apologize, offer a second chance or improve.