The quickest way to audience social engagement is to talk about what’s happening right now - remember how brands had fun with #covfefe? - which means company community managers will often jump on seasons and holidays as a quick and easy way to get in on social conversations.
That’s why right now, while mince pies are starting to creep into supermarkets and excitement builds over this year’s John Lewis Christmas ad, social media is awash with Halloween-themed content. Tutorials on how to perfect the IT clown Pennywise’s look, and horror over Anne Frank and “burnt zombie child” costumes for kids, are proving positively viral.
But how are brands harnessing the seasonal interest in Halloween? And can we use social insights to infer when it makes sense for a brand to jump on seasonal content? We used the Linkfluence platform for a broad-sweeping search for Halloween conversations in the first half of October and found authenticity and timing remain key, no matter what you’re sharing.
Halloween content: who, where, how?
First, a quick sweep of the audience on social. We searched for the simplest of terms, “Halloween”, and confined the search to just the first two weeks of October. What we found is hardly surprising.
The audience is centered largely in the USA; almost 67% of conversations were found by authors from that territory, compared to 0.6% in the UK, 0.2% in France, 0.1% in Germany, and just 0.01% in China. Of those authors, an overwhelming majority were young females in the 18-24 age group. There’s a second small demographic spike at 45-54 years - potentially mothers and grandmothers - but for the most part, Halloween is something for the kids.
The key is to know your audience well, and make a judgment call: is it worth your brand jumping on board the Halloween ghost train if you are mainly targetting, say, 50+ males? And if you’re in the right demographic, dig a little deeper into the topics of interest; millennials will want hip costumes for parties, while mums will be worried about age-appropriate dress and healthy treats for their little munchkins.
When should a brand get spooky?
But when does it make sense for a brand to utilize Halloween? There are a few natural bedfellows for this holiday: make-up, fashion, party accessories, food, and drink, maybe even bars and restaurants. This is a season that firmly centers around scares and fun. While in the US supermarkets will shout about candy specials and pumpkins galore, in other parts of the world the content becomes a bit more nuanced and simple. Take, for example, UK high street accessories chain Accessorize, who opt for a simple black and white shot of a couple of headbands.
— Accessorize (@Accessorize) 15 October 2017
The wide-sweep of social chatter, though, reveals make-up as the biggest Halloween content opportunity. Brands such as Kat Von D, Mac (who even have their own hashtag, #MacHalloween), and NYX Cosmetics are among the most-used keywords in the first half of October, largely helped by Instagram - if there’s anything that a beauty blogger loves, it’s showing off make-up skills for special occasions!
Likewise, for food and drink brands, or for large supermarkets and chains, social media is a great place to show off your wares. Yet it seems not many UK supermarkets are getting in on the action; the audience and the food brands themselves are doing the job for them so far this year. Perhaps we’ll see more appear in the final week of October? It’s unlikely, though; looking at 2016’s data, only @asda made the top keywords list for UK accounts talking about Halloween.
Halloween, like other seasons, really presents a chance for brands to be creative. Fashion and beauty brands are already right on it. What we don’t see, though, is DIY stores talking about their range of great potential props - perhaps a missed opportunity?
The positives of seasonal content
It’s difficult to cut through the noise at peak conversation times such as Halloween, so authenticity will help your content ring true with your audience. Otherwise, you’ll end up looking like uncle Harold pulling out his Thriller costume for the 30th year running, and insisting he’s still got it.
The other thing to keep in mind is timing. Campaign timing is key - as is the right channel. Instagram is getting almost 80% of impressions for Halloween keywords in the makeup industry because it’s the best channel for showcasing visual prowess.
As experts say, if you can overcome the challenges when creating seasonal content, there are plenty of opportunities to be found. Avoid shoehorning your seasonal tie-in - ensure there is still relevance for your brand - and make sure you get the timing right, and you could find yourself with jaw-dropping seasonal content that really engages your audience. It also helps to show your brand is current, that you know your place and audience.
Halloween is really the last chance to play around with seasonal content ideas before we enter the crunch period of Christmas and New Year - a time when every man and his dog gets in on the action. So get creative and have some fun, while remaining authentic and ensuring it’s all in the right place at the right time. And share your stories with us at @LinkfluenceUK; we’d love to share your successes and get ready for the festive season together!
Researching social engagement is vital to understanding how customers interact with your brand - and how you can get their attention. Discover more about how Linkfluence can help, here.