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The Holidays' Most Unique Big Business Social Media Campaigns When it comes to decking the halls, big brands are pulling out all the stops this year. Here are some holiday-themed social media strategies that small businesses can learn from.

By Shira Lazar

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Starbucks Red Cup Campaign

Big brands are getting social for the holidays, maybe you should too.

According to Chicago-based market research firm Lab42, 61 percent of holiday shoppers plan to research that perfect gift through their social networks before they pull out their wallets. That's a lot of digitally reliant festive buying, which inspired me to scour the Web to find the most unique ways brands are using social media to cash in during the holiday season. And who knows, these campaigns may even provide inspiration for your own company's seasonal social media efforts.

Contests
Big names in retail are taking to Facebook to engage with potential customers. Gap's "12 Days of Joy" Photo Contest invites fans to upload their favorite holiday pictures along with captions in order to enter to win a $500 gift card. The page also offers a "Joy It Up" mixtape of new holiday music.

Kohl's is encouraging consumers to submit stories and pictures about why they enjoy giving gifts. The winners will receive gift cards for up to $2,500 and help direct $10,000 to $25,000 in donations to charities.

Holiday eCards
Ralph Lauren has opted to go paperless this holiday season -- creating its own ecard microsite. Incidentally, the site also allows customers to see and interact with their winter catalog along the way. Just create your message and share it via email or over Facebook and Twitter.

Social Giving
In a nod to the season of giving -- and to promote LEGO Star Wars -- the toy maker launched LegoSantaYoda.com. For every egreeting sent from the site, the LEGO Group is giving away one toy to the U.S. Marine Corps' Toys for Tots program.

EBay also partnered with the nonprofit with its "Give-A-Toy Store" window promotion in New York's Herald Square and San Francisco's Post Street. Using eBay's mobile app, customers can purchase a toy, scan its QR code and then instantly donate a toy valued at $2 to $25 to Toys for Tots. The window lights up when you make a donation. And, you can share your gift giving activities with your Facebook friends.

Off the Wall
Bloomingdales's decided to capture shoppers in real life by taking pictures of customers strolling by their famous window display in New York City and posting them to their Holiday Windows app.

Then, caffeine addicts are buzzing about Starbucks' holiday augmented reality app. Just point your phone at one of the coffee giant's red holiday season coffee cups and watch an animation come to life. The "Starbucks Cup Magic" also works on 47 other products available at their retail locations. And the app promotes social sharing -- allowing users to send ecards as well as other holiday offers.

Shira Lazar is the host and executive producer of What's Trending live Tuesdays at 10 a.m. Pacific and Partners Project, interviewing your favorite YouTube stars weekly.

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