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How to Ideate a Winning Back-to-School Campaign

Darsana Vijay

(This post has been updated many times since 2016 and the recent update was in August 2018)

Working on a back-to-school campaign really pays off. Literally. Did you know that on average, every family (with children in grades K-12) spends about $684 on back-to-school merchandise alone? We’ve all grown up watching innumerable TV ads that made us hate our hand-me-downs.

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The number of families who do their back-to-school shopping on their mobile phones is on the rise. Consumers are using their phones to research the products they want to buy on their phones as well. About 25% of the parents said that social media influenced their purchasing decisions in 2017 and the number one reason parents used social media is to find back-to-school promotions and offers.

I know I am just putting you under more pressure to get to something that’s already on your content calendar. Fret not, here’s the how-to on creating a kickass social media campaign.

  1. Go to the Discover homepage. This is the freemium version of Discover. You can also sign up for a free trial of the Discover Pro here.
  2. On the search bar, search for back-to-school related keywords or hashtags like #backtoschool and “back-to-school”

    Image from Gyazo
    As you can see, brands publish back-to-school Posts mostly between late July and early September.
  3. Change the date range to July 15th – September 30th, 2017. Now you will be able to see all the brand Posts from that period that contain ‘BTS’, ‘back-to-school’ or any of the other keywords. You can also see the brands that are posting around back-to-school on the left pane and the number of posts around the topic. Zoom in on content published in your Industry alone for more relevant content ideas.
    You can always look up Posts that have any other keyword of your choice by using the search bar.
  4. You can sort the Posts by relevancy, recency, most engaging, likes, comments, and shares across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Now you can browse through the most engaging Posts from last year. 
    Here’s how the Discover feed for the most engaging content from the Retail industry looks like:
    Image from Gyazo
    Take a quick glance at the words that brands commonly used in their back-to-school campaigns. You can get valuable hints on how to frame your copy!
  5. When you find a Post that you particularly enjoyed and would like to take inspiration from, add it to a board.
    Ever felt handicapped when your teammates were working remotely? A board, quite like the Pinterest version, is a shareable virtual scrapbook. Your teammates will be able to see which Posts you have added to the board. They can add their favorites too!
    Take a peek at what my back-to-school board for top Posts by Consumer Electronics Brands:https://gyazo.com/c76ae5420d69212a20a42a66b2e89b55
  6. Now you have a template to work off of. Content ideation is by no means mere duplication. Discover can help you ideate, collaborate and strategize a content plan. But you have to breathe life into your campaign by bringing in currency.
    It helps to talk about something that is all the rage at the moment. For instance, check out what Whataburger did

Compared to say, retail brands, QSR brands put out a negligible amount of content around back-to-school. However, this Post was able to rope in a great deal of engagement.
Whataburger placed their product in the limelight and addressed the target demographic directly. Take a look at Whataburger’s Fan demographic:Whataburger_Age_Profile_Jul_3_2016_to_Jul_9_2016.jpegIt is definitely a smart move to create content around events that concern a major chunk of your Fan base. You can employ whitespace analysis to do this. Tap into chatter generated by Brand Posts from other industries, or even around other events. You can reap rewards by staying on top of what your audience is interested in.

If you’d asked me to look to data to solve my writer’s block, I would have scoffed at you. What keeps us from writing often is not that we’ve forgotten how to use language, but that we don’t know what we should be talking about. By using data, we can locate what people enjoy reading. And thereby, create content that delivers.

There you go! Get cracking on the next campaign that kids won’t be able to resist. Parents will rue the day you read this article.