5 Social Media Hacks to Give the Gift They Never Knew They Needed


Is there anything more depressing during the holiday season than finally resolving to type “Christmas gifts for mom” or “what should I get my brother for Christmas?”
Other than making a mistake while coloring in your Starbucks cup, not much comes to mind.
Every year, we find ourselves grasping at straws, searching for some semblance of an idea towards what to gift to a loved one. For some reason, holiday shopping lists and gift guides just don’t cut it.
We want to give that perfect, thoughtful gift that we’re sure our parent, sibling, friend, or significant other will love. That gift they never knew they needed. The problem is, how do you find that perfect gift?
If only there were some place for people to share personal aspirations, favorite activities, preferred products, and idolized brands. If only a place like that existed.
Someone should build that.
Wait, we already have that?
If you don’t already, start looking to social platforms as a launching point for your gift-giving needs. There is a plethora of inspiration, ideas, and direction available across social platforms. You just have to know where to look.
So, let’s begin.
5 Holiday Shopping Hacks Using Social Media
1. Be a creep. The quickest and easiest way to find that gift? Stalk their Instagram activity. Go ahead. Open the app. Go to your notifications section, tap “Following” at the top, and start scrolling. Inevitably, you’ll find a line (or several) reading “[So-and-so] liked 7 posts.”

Each post will hold its own interests and gift ideas, so if that’s all it takes, that’s all it takes. But, the real brain stumpers and “how did you even think to get me this”-style gifts come in the commonalities. Try to connect dots across those 4-10 posts Instagram told you they liked. Look for themes or recurring products.
This section is chronological, so you’ll have to sift through the dozens or hundreds of people you follow to find that specific person, but it’s worth it. And don’t stop at one line. The more of those “[Person liked 8 posts.” from the same person (just keep scrolling), the better your ideas and intuition about gifts that person will like will be.
Additionally, by seeing what they’re posting, liking, and sharing, you’ll improve your likelihood that the gift you’re giving will be share-worthy. What better “I gave an awesome gift” affirmation is there?
After a little digging, you’ll start thinking things like “Wow, this person really likes coffee and camping.”
BOOM. Over-the-fire coffee set.
2. Check their followers. Another tool across all platforms will be to see who they’re following. Social media is founded on following brands, celebrities, and topics that users personally care about. What’s more, accounts this special someone follows will vary from platform to platform. People use Twitter for different reasons than they use Instagram, which they’ll use differently from Pinterest.
Now, we’re not saying scroll through every single account of the 869 accounts on each Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram, but odds are, if you’re looking this hard for gift ideas, it’s worth it to dig through a solid amount on each platform.
By looking at followers on all three platforms, you’ll develop a very thorough understanding of what personalities and topics your giftee look to for entertainment and inspiration.
Oh, she likes musicians, being outdoors, and hanging out with friends?
How about tickets to that next music festival? Man, we’re good at this.
3. Check out their idea catalog. Instagram does this cool thing where users can save posts they really like or ones they’d like to come back to at a later point. Unfortunately, unless you can steal this person’s phone or log-in info (maybe you can), there’s currently no way for you to access these posts.
Disclaimer, The Social Lights does not condone or encourage stealing phones or hacking accounts. However, if it makes for an amazing Christmas gift, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

While you can’t view these saved posts on Instagram, those sound an awful lot like what another platform does, right? Right! Go to Pinterest!
You know the drill. Pinterest is home to billions of pins, each aimed at a finished project, recipe, or home makeover. Users are able to categorize their favorites by project type, topic, use case, or however else they’d like to do so.
Similar to Instagram, start perusing pins and boards to draw commonalities and recurring themes.
The best part of these pins? Pinterest is killing the visual search game. If you’ve got a picture from somewhere or a simply a pin from their account, search it to receive thousands of related and similar pins, expanding your gift-giving brainstorm 10-fold.
One more advantage? Pinterest recently announced the ability to nest pin boards. Now, users can create subcategories of their interests, letting you get even more specific in your gift giving.
This person is really into fixer-upper projects, home décor, and craft cocktails?
How about supplies to build your own home bar cart?
Too easy.

4. Listen retroactively. One of our favorite native tools here at The Social Lights isTwitter Advanced Search. The tool offers a searchable database of public tweets based on keywords, phrases, accounts, hashtags, location, and date.
Given that your person has a public account, advanced search literally lets you search every tweet they’ve ever tweeted for keywords and phrases.
To get your wheels turning, search phrases like “love this,” “need this,” and “I need”, along with their handle. You’ll get tweets talking about interests from last week, last year, and even further back (nothing shows you care like a nostalgia play).
Your Secret Santa likes cabin life, cool/fall weather, and the cast of a particular show?
How about a gift basket of extra-warm socks, an apple cider-and-mug set, and the complete collection of New Girl?
We are, as they say, cookin’ with grease, my friend.
5. Just pay attention. Good gifts stem from caring about the person you’re gifting to. On or off social media, engage in topics and conversations they hold dear. Take an interest in their favorite projects, and start up conversations on hobbies.
Oh, and if that someone sends you a message, commenting on how great, cool, interesting, or cute something is, in the name of all that is good, save that message!
It’s that simple.
Gift giving is easy. You just need to know where (and how) to look.

Want to work with us? Contact us here.

Want to learn from us? Get insights, context, and actionable intelligence on what’s trending in the world of culture, social, and the future when you sign up for our newsletter.

Background on The Social Lights
The Social Lights® is a social-first agency headquartered in Minneapolis that partners with clients to grow their business through strategy development, creative production, media buying, and social media management. Current clients include General Mills, Ecolab, Cargill, Caribou Coffee, Kwik Trip, Polaris and Massage Envy. The Social Lights was founded in 2011 and is a WBENC-Certified Women Business Enterprise. Learn more at The Social Lights.

More articles