Mashed potatoes? You betcha. While not the main course – in store sales still hold the majority of Black Friday sales – online sales are an ever-growing, essential component to Black Friday weekend shopping. And much like mashed potatoes compared to turkey, many people prefer shopping online to dealing with the crowds and hassle that going out on Black Friday can entail.

The trend of the last few years continued this year as online sales over last weekend continued to rise, breaking records all over the place. CNBC reported that online sales for Black Friday soared to a whomping $3.34 billion, breaking the previous record set on Cyber Monday 2015, which reached just over the $3 billion mark. Many believed the Black Friday online sales would eat into Cyber Monday revenue and cause a decrease in the projected sales.

Boy, were they wrong.

Cyber Monday proceeded to smash its own record from the previous year, and Black Friday, with $3.45 billion in sales, noting a 12% increase from the year before. (Read article here.)

So, locally what did we see?

About the same.

Driving consumers to your site during the months of November and December has never been more important. People are realizing they can get the same deals available in-store from the comfort of their couches. You don’t even have to open your laptop; mobile sales held a significant portion of online sales this year, also showing large growth from the year before.

No crowds. More sleep. Same deals. What’s not to love?

It’s not just big-name businesses like Amazon, Walmart, or Target that are being affected by this shift in shopping trends. Small businesses must make themselves seen and heard among the cacophony that is Black Friday and Cyber Monday. How, you ask? Well, let me tell you.

If Online Sales are Mashed Potatoes, Social Media is the Gravy

Eleven out of twelve months of the year your social media content should be engaging and based on creating a human connection. The twelfth month is Black Friday. I know what you’re thinking: Friday is a day, not a month. But hear me out.

Black Friday isn’t just a one-day phenomenon anymore. It’s an entire month of sales, advertising, and catching the attention of deal seekers. For the majority of our eCommerce clients, Black Friday begins November 1st. Getting your ads/deals out early and often is crucial if you want to be a part of the conversation on Black Friday.

Good conversion rates on social media are generally very low – like 1.5% low. However, in the last week we saw growth in ourt client’s conversion rates of 10-12%. Already those rates have declined back to normal, showing just how important social was to last weekend’s sales numbers. Consumers are obviously looking for deals while on social platforms during Black Friday to Cyber Monday.

Driving Traffic to Webpages Comes in Not-So-Hot as the Cranberry Sauce

It’s kind of important to some but most can live without it. Again, hear me out on this. The more prominent your presence on social media is, the less important it is to drive people to your website. Bold statement? Maybe. But note this: if your audience is receiving the interaction they need based solely on your social media presence, they don’t need to rely on the information on your website. Four out of four of our local retail clients saw a steep increase in sales from Thursday to Sunday and all experienced less traffic to their websites than the year before. Those clients also saw increased engagement rate on Facebook of 180% during that same time frame.

Display Ads for Branding are Like Burnt Turkey, Radio has a Niche

Unlike social media advertising, display ads still suck. They were greatly overshadowed by the social conversions. As for getting people into the store on Black Friday, a more traditional method of advertising, radio ads, shown brightly this year for one of our client’s in-store sales. A pre-week Black Friday radio push proved successful in getting people into the store and spending. While radio is not always the most lucrative marketing method, for short pushes, such as Black Friday, it can be very beneficial for sales and foot traffic.

And the Winner is…

Overall the main winner of Black Friday and Cyber Monday was definitely online sales, generated by social media advertising. And from the looks of it, this trend will continue to grow throughout both the rest of the holiday season and years to come.

More people are also using social media to search for deals that are relevant to them, causing an increase in sales that cannot be attributed to website traffic. Let your social media work for you by starting the month of November with creative ads meant to capture the attention of your audience and keep them waiting for Black Friday to finally arrive.