This year, it seems Christmas is truly social. And for many brands social media marketing is definitely playing a big role

in the festive push to consumers. M&S and John Lewis are integrating TV with their social media efforts, whilst Argos is pushing out a Facebook wish list.  Even Angry Birds is jingling with their advent calendar downloads.

The next few days will see the final turbo charge of social activity – leaving brands dripping in new fans, followers and influencer relationships.

And after the turkey is but a memory, what exactly will happen to all this hard-won social engagement. How will companies capitalise on the nascent connections with consumers? How you can refresh the relationships, tap into the long term value, and maybe learn a thing or two to inform your 2011 initiatives. The first steps to spring-boarding from your festive success into next year are:

Intelligence

What data can you extract from your Christmas activity? Are there trends in purchase behaviour? What were the triggers that inspired sharing, friendship, interest? Look for the associated interests and the reasons people engaged with you during the festive season.

Filter

Distil your new communities. Who is an advocate, who is leading the pack and can your community be divided into segments or tribes? The aim is to pinpoint those consumers that have influence – the connections that will deliver lifetime value. Look for the people with whom you can connect and form relationships.

Nurturing

Don’t stop talking to your newly connected consumers – manage them as you would any community. This requires curation by the brand. Of course you need content, but you also need to start weaving stories, creating reasons to participate, and inspiring sharing amongst your followers, fans and advocates.

If your Christmas campaign was successful, you punched through the festive noise to extend your marketing reach. Now you need to think about the frequency and longevity of your activity. Done right your investment in Christmas this year could last all through 2011. Now that sounds like a great Christmas present.

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