(Originally posted in LonelyBrand)
In 2013, analysts projected consumers would spend $72.5 billion on back-to-school gear. But before the number of chino sales gets you too excited, there’s another important trend you need to take into account: Consumers are spending less and shopping smarter.
In that same year, consumers planned to spend 8 percent less on school supplies, and 32 percent of parents said they would comparison shop online before making purchase decisions.
So companies looking to get a piece of this year’s back-to-school pie have to deploy every resource they have.
Fortunately, marketing teams have access to unprecedented amounts of data that can inform their back-to-school marketing campaigns. It’s simply a matter of using that data creatively.
Use Social Media to Boost Back-to-School Marketing
One of the biggest challenges for marketers during the back-to-school season is connecting with youth through authentic, meaningful interactions. That’s where mobile and social marketing have become integral to narrowly focused campaigns.
Engaging with brands that use hashtags and other social conversation tactics is a form of expression for teens. And when they latch on to a brand as a form of individualism, high levels of engagement can follow.
Here are four ways you can use social media data to fuel your back-to-school marketing campaigns:
1. Use Online and Offline Location-Based Marketing Tactics
The most effective social media marketing managers understand the digital and physical locations of their target market.
While the digital platform with the highest concentration of your audience will give you amazing detail about demographics, usage, and shopping habits, the majority of customers will enter a physical location to complete their purchase.
To provide a seamless online-to-offline experience, utilize data about your audience’s behaviors to advise campaign-related decisions. Employ geotargeting data to identify shopping and movement habits, and develop location-based coupons to entice customers to enter your brick-and-mortar store.
2. Channel Analytics to Determine the ‘What’ and ‘Where’
Once you’re monitoring the right audience, you need to make sure you’re using the right words in the right places. Identify trending hashtags and topics on all social sites, then plan your content from there.
Take H&M. There’s an overlap between the audience that interacts with it on Twitter and the hashtags used. H&M’s audience is drawn to giveaways and contests. By incorporating these in its back-to-school campaigns, H&M can further engage with consumers.
Use this insight to determine where your target market spends the majority of its time and shares the most content, and move your campaign to that platform.
It might mean you need to move your promotions from Facebook to Instagram. Wherever the majority of outbound links are headed, you should follow.
3. Excite Audiences With Visuals
While text-based social sites are still popular, visuals are a critical part of solid content strategies. Images and videos get more click-throughs and shares from younger audiences, which almost automatically expands your reach. Share experiences, humor, culture, or news — anything that helps your brand naturally fit into real conversations.
4. Shift the Focus Away From You
Teens are influential in the buying process, and because they’re accustomed to products, services, and media that cater to them, they’ve lost the ability to care about you, your products, or your services. To get youths’ attention, keep them at the center of your efforts.
Simple tweaks can make a big difference in shifting the focus of your promotions to the audience. Offer contests positioning them as the stars of an ad or YouTube video. Ask for input regarding something influential in their lives. Attach your brand to a celebrity or event that’s meaningful to them. Use what you know to provide relevant and interesting promotions, and you’ll take their attention — and their dollars — away from other brands.
Too often, marketers run back-to-school campaigns that don’t speak to the right audience, or they try to engage with them in the wrong places. But with all the data available from social media analytics, you have no excuse. Offer something valuable, and keep it simple. If people see a clear benefit, they’ll share it. If it’s a simple message, it’ll be more engaging. Use real-time, honest insights to craft the perfect message every time.