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Thanksgiving on Social Media – Lessons for Modern Marketers

Ranjani Raghupathi

This article was powerd by Unmetric Discover – the world’s largest branded content database.

As someone who loves celebrating all holidays, this Thanksgiving was a real shocker for me. I had the misfortune of finding out that what I thought were sweet potatoes were actually yams. Did you know that yams are orange and sweet potatoes are cream?


Being a vegetarian, I don’t enjoy the traditional turkey, so instead I turned to Pinterest and sought out what looked like doable Thanksgiving DIY ideas. Big mistake. What was supposed to be a rustic, autumn themed center piece became an uncoordinated clump of plastic leaves and my pie art looked like silly string had fallen on it.

To get over my DIY fails, I went back to social media – the only arena from where I can watch all the holiday action live, even from halfway across the globe.


Similar to previous years, I noticed a never ending stream of recipes from brands. However, the post below from Pillsbury was the most engaging brand post amongst the 25,000 brands that Unmetric monitors on Facebook. It received over 130,000 Likes, 5,000 Comments and 118,000 Shares and had an engagement score of 1,000. True to the brand’s positioning, there were also plenty of other Thanksgiving related updates with recipes, and the performance of those posts was just as impressive.

Not only did the brand recieve amazing engagement, it also experienced a spike in fan growth after this post was published. Pillsbury’s Facebook page grew at a rate of 1.8% while the average brand from the Food & Beverages sector only grew at a rate of 1.1%

No prizes for guessing the second most engaging brand content. In spite of the Ferguson protests, Macy’s still won everyone’s heart with the parade – offline and online. The brand received an engagement score of 795 on their 2013 Thanksgiving parade post while this year they received a score of 954.

HLN TV Network took the opportunity to appreciate and showcase all the brands that gave the day off to its employees on Thanksgiving day. The post went out in early November and couldn’t have performed better for the brand – perhaps its most viral post ever on Facebook as it remains the most liked, shared, and commented post.

To give this a little more context, it has been shared more than twice as much as Ellen Degeneres’s most shared post in the last 30 days.


Oreo is no stranger to creating great content on social media and never seems to miss a beat with its timely tweets. This year it posted a recipe for a delicious chocolate dessert and it was easily one of the most favorited and most engaging Thanksgiving related brand tweets. The social community obviously couldn’t get enough of this innovative recipe to try at home. Even though the brand used the hashtag #OreoCookieBalls only three times, users plugged it in to their tweets over 1,900 times.

I’m not just a fan of Taco Bell’s food (veg, of course), their social media content and strategy is one of my favorites as well. Their smart Thanksgiving tweet breaks the oft touted rule of social media that good content needs an image to make it better. This simple one line is a definite win, according to both the data and me. It got over 1,000 Retweets and 2,000 Favorites in less than 24 hours.

Three Thanksgiving Takeaways For Social Media Marketers

1. Recipes are winners, especially if they’re for desserts.

Thanksgiving on Social Media - Lessons for Modern Marketers


2. It’s Thanksgiving. Everyone is looking forward to quintessential holiday traditions. Talking about the parade, the NFL games, family – that’s a sure fire way to stay relevant and to get your audience listening.

Social Media Marketing

3. People get emotional; it’s a good time to portray your brand’s human side.

Thanksgiving On Social Media

In one of our other recent studies, we found that the amount of content brands are posting about Thanksgiving is on the rise too. There were over 6,700 posts on Facebook up to the 26th November and it now stands at over 17,600 posts! Despite the glut of content, creative brands are still able to cut through the noise and pull viral hits out of the bag. With Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year right around the corner, brands need to bring the festivity to social media.

Just as I finish up my brand stalking and pseudo Thanksgiving meal, I realized I’m thankful for sweet potatoes (or yams), cranberry sauce, dessert and all the vegetarian sides. For all those of you preparing to make full use of the Black Friday sales, here are 18 recipes for lip-smacking meals with nothing but leftovers to keep you energized.

Happy Black Friday and Cyber Monday everyone, remember not to burn your wallet this year!

All data has been compiled and analyzed using Unmetric Discover which helps content creators like you to find anything a brand has ever said about any topic by searching through 500,000,000+ items of branded content published by over 100,000 major brands over the last 5 years.