The winter holidays are traditionally a time when brands trot out their best marketing ideas. Whatever channel you choose for advertising, you need to have a unique angle to catch the eye of customers who are subject to countless numbers of festive spots at this time of year.

Well-executed social media campaigns can keep people excited about your brand even after December ends. In fact, they often don’t need to promote a particular product to be highly effective. These campaigns should demonstrate your company’s ethos and your general attitude toward social media. From candy to credit cards, here are four brands that have nailed their social media holiday promotions.

1. Peeps

For a brand of candy most closely associated with Easter, Peeps has made a strong push to be equally relevant during the winter holidays. The company has taken an unorthodox approach to its holiday campaign with a set of e-cards called “Peeps Offering.” The e-cards feature a cartoon marshmallow chick along with an apology for some wrong that might have been committed during the year. Most of them are very silly, such as, “I’m sorry I defriended you. Again.” and “I’m sorry I pocket dialed you 38 times.”

From the Peeps Offering Facebook App, you can share any of the existing e-cards by email, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. It’s a great way of inserting a little offbeat humor into a holiday campaign, and provides a great example of how you can distribute your visual content across multiple social media networks.

2.¬†Allrecipes and Ladies’ Home Journal

Another great example of a cross-platform holiday promotion is the “World’s Biggest Cookie Swap,” presented by Allrecipes.com, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Nestle. Pinterest is the main focus of the program, where people are encouraged to pin or repin at least 10 cookie recipes from the accounts of Allrecipes or Ladies’ Home Journal. Once a contestant has pinned 10 recipes, he or she can submit an entry to the contest on Facebook. The grand-prize winner receives a trip to New York City for lunch with renowned chef Ina Garten, while 10 second-place winners will receive signed cookbooks authored by Garten.

This program takes advantage of Pinterest’s focus on sharing holiday inspiration, as well as the prevalence of food and recipes on the network. The sponsors have given extra incentive for participation by pledging to donate $1 to Cookies for Kids’ Cancer for every pin board created for the cookie swap. Both Allrecipes and Ladies’ Home Journal have apps for the cookie swap on their Facebook Pages and boards on their Pinterest accounts, which means a large potential audience for the program. It’s a great example of how to leverage multiple networks to get fans to follow your brand on more than one platform.

3. Bravo

Hispanic marketing agency Bravo launched one of the most successful holiday hashtag campaigns with #holitweet. The company provides seasonal cards in the form of Twitter art created by Matthew Haggett. On the Holitweet website, people can select Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s tweets to post on Twitter. The missives can be retweeted with a direct mention to a friend or family member.

This is a really clever way of taking the concept of holiday cards and applying it to social media. It also helps bring a striking visual to Twitter, a social media platform that usually requires a focus on short, snappy text. This helps the shared #holitweets to stand out and catch the eyes of casual readers.

4. Capital One

Capital One and Pinterest may seem like an unusual pairing on the surface, but the credit company has demonstrated a solid understanding of how to operate a good holiday campaign on the image-focused network. For the 12 Days of Pinterest program, Capital One created pinboards for each of the days between December 12 and December 23, with titles such as “Day 1: The Gift of Comfort” or “Day 7: The Gift of Adventure.” Each board features pins from retail partners such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman-Marcus, Best Buy, and Kohl’s that could be appropriate presents.

Followers of the brand’s Pinterest feed can enter daily for a chance to win $100 Capital One Visa gift cards. The campaign successfully combines a sweepstakes with one of the main tenets of successful Pinterest accounts: inspiration. Gift ideas are a great holiday tie-in, and the 12 Days of Pinterest campaign shows how a little creativity can make any brand into a powerhouse presence on the network.

How is your brand approaching holiday promotions on social media? Let us know in the comments!

[Image credit: Orihimehimex3]