Updated July 2019.
It’s back-to-school time and brands are doing all they can to capture consumers’ attention. Sales during this period can act as an early indicator of upcoming holiday potential, so doing well here is essential. We used our Next Generation AI-powered analytics to learn what retailers should steer clear of, and what they can use to their advantage.
“Back to school” as a keyword phrase
Sentiment for the keywords “back to school” has been pretty high over the past month at 79% positive. All those parents are happy to be shopping if it means getting the kids out from underfoot after a busy summer.
Sentiment took a dip on July 15, dropping to 53% with stories around challenges students face going back to school. One story in particular is driving this conversation – about the challenges a young girl has been having since a traumatic brain injury.
On July 3 sentiment soared to 100%, due largely to folks sharing a different kind of “go back” sentiment – stories around successes adults experienced by going back to school:
The key term used in both dips and spikes in the conversations above is the same – and that’s instructive. Understanding why a term is trending, the sentiment behind it and the context that surrounds it is super important. Brands really need sophisticated social media intelligence, powered by accurate artificial intelligence-powered analytics to make these distinctions.
There are lots of others top terms to consider besides, like Fortnite Millionaires, as many kids dream of making money from playing video games and a few lucky kids have actually done it. And there are many, probably more realistic terms, to hone in on – though selling gamer gear as part of your ‘back to school’ offerings isn’t a half-bad idea, considering:
Clicking on any of these terms gives you sound bites of posts, revealing the topics within the terms. Brands can use these topics to further explore what consumers want, and deliver that in their messaging.
The one hashtag you can’t ignore – and it’s not “back to school”
Social listening is incredibly helpful when it comes to anticipating trends in a given vertical. And “go back” is one to watch. Should it figure in to your brand’s campaign planning? Are you potentially missing segments that struggle with returning to school for a variety of reasons – or those that are excited about a new start? Both are certainly avenues to explore.
#Giveaways are always huge, as are #contests and the desire to #win things, but we see others hashtags outshining those this year:
The top hashtag trending is a clever Back-to-School Kit promotion from Chinese boy band, WavV:
Would a “back to school kit” containing some BTS gear go over well with the crowd you’re marketing to? Perhaps. It’s certainly worth a look.
And then a trend toward #minimalism and #debtsucks as consumers search for economical ways to create #dormdecor. #Etsy is always a popular option for the DIY crowd, and the back to school crowd apparently too. Maybe a vegan bag is in some students’ futures? Possibly one “going back” to school as an adult? They should add that hashtag for greater impact. Social listening would have alerted them to that:
Click on any hashtag in the Top Hashtags cloud for a similar snapshot of top conversations for that hashtag.
Which brands are “schooling” the others?
Looking at Top Brands, the aforementioned Fortnite tops the charts, as those millionaire gamers talk smack to those who aren’t gaming millionaires as they head back to school. Hershey has a sweepstakes to win some chocolate emoji bars:
And Apple is already hard at work with a bevy of back to school promotions for students:
Walmart, Target, Nike, Polo Ralph Lauren and Vera Bradley are all doing a good job of standing out as well:
Click on their names in the word cloud to find out why – and don’t be afraid to borrow strategies that could also work for your brand. That’s what social competitive analysis is all about!
People worth knowing in the back to school conversation
What about the Top People? These are great names to explore as potential brand advocates and influencers – or at least as people to talk to your audience about if they are passionate fans.
Jin is a member of the K-Pop band, BTS – lately known as the most popular member, as his standing here supports. And he has a back to school kit contest that’s wildly popular:
Killer Mike is a rapper in the news for hosting free haircut events for disadvantaged Atlanta students. Seeing the real-world and kind-hearted impact this celebrity is making captures an important component of back to school messaging – a #nonprofit and #inspirational focus (from top hashtags) that can be extremely impactful online. Yet another great avenue for brands to explore.
Dial into your audience’s specific back to school preferences
There’s a lot of information to be gleaned from social data, but you need a starting point to expand from. NetBase is one way to find basic information like gender and age for a given topic, as well as trending hashtags and more.
With basic insights in hand, look more closely at the areas that matter most to your brand. Then deliver more specific messaging that will resonate with your particular audience – or a chosen segment.
The window is closing for back-to-school, which means it is nearly time to focus on the upcoming holidays. The strategies you apply here, and the insights you glean, will carry you through the end of the year and into 2020.
Just keep searching for real-time trends, and getting to know your audience, and you’ll have a successful back-to-school season – and happy holidays to boot.
Want to hone your skills even more before the holidays hit? Reach out and we’ll show you how!