Black Friday is only a few days away. After that comes Small Business Saturday, then Cyber Monday and then the retail race is on until Christmas. This year's holiday shopping season is short compared with past years', which means businesses have to get creative to maximize sales. 

Of course, social media is a great tool for getting your brand in front of your customers, which means it's worth looking at ways you can use it to make the most of the Black Friday shopping weekend.

Here are seven ways social media can help you crush this holiday shopping season:

1. Create a Stylized Gift Guide

You can help your audience find the right gift by putting together a curated selection of gifts for different audiences, and sharing them across your social network. For example, you might have guides for men's items, children's, and women's, and share each at different times over the coming weekend. Each time your audience sees one of your guides, they'll be inspired to find the perfect gift for someone on their list.

2. Hashtag Everything

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Come up with a natural hashtag to use for your Black Friday or Small Business Saturday sale and drive extra attention. Encourage your customers to use the hashtag when they purchase from you in order to help attract additional awareness of both your brand and your holiday sales.

You should also use hashtags for the items you promote to make sure that potential customers find your products searching on Instagram, for example. Even if you don't use your own, you can still benefit from the attention on social media by using hashtags like #blackfriday or #shopsmallbusinesses. This can be especially useful when people are looking for gift ideas or what's on sale right now.

3. Hold a Facebook Live Flash Sale

In general, a sense of urgency goes a long way in getting customers to pull the trigger. In fact, a flash sale can be a great way to generate sales in a short period of time. Using Facebook Live to do it draws more attention and allows your customers to get in on the action wherever they are. 

4. Share Behind-the-Scenes Instagram Stories

Instagram's Stories feature is a great way to generate excitement for your brand and your Black Friday or Small Business Saturday sale. Instead of just posting items that are on sale (which isn't a terrible idea), get creative and share behind-the-scenes videos about your brand and what you're selling.

Ahead of time, you can even use it to generate some buzz by having a countdown until your sale goes live. Of course, as always, be sure to take advantage of tagging your products in Instagram to make it super easy for your customers to make a purchase. 

5. Create an Exclusive Offer

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Whether you sell via a retail location or online, you can use social media to create an exclusive offer only for your social media following. This is a great way to tie into the holiday shopping season, drive sales, and reward your followers. Even better, make it time sensitive to drive people to make a purchase now.

6. Use Facebook Messenger for Targeted Offers

There's no question that showing ads in Facebook Messenger might seem a little creepy. Not everyone wants to see ads in their feed of personal messages. At the same time, they work. That's mainly because you're targeting people who are already interested in your business, which means they've followed your page. Capitalize on that interest by sending them a special offer. 

7. Don't Forget Your Email List

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Your email list isn't technically social media, but there's no question it's one of the most effective ways to keep your brand in front of your customers. In fact, the one-two punch of social media and email together can be a powerful combination to drive sales, especially for Black Friday. Customers are already on the lookout for great deals, which means they'll actually open your email. Your job is simply to provide them with what they're looking for.